Tier 2 Behavior Interventions: By the Student, for the Student

Key Takeaway

As educators, we know that learning is always more meaningful when there is student involvement and ownership. When designing Tier 2 behavior interventions, student participation and feedback in the process increases effectiveness as student investment increases with involvement. —Nika Espinosa 

Tiers of Behavioral Support

The paper by Mallory et al. dives into the importance of student involvement in the design of Tier 2 behavior interventions and provides a framework to help educators involve students.

“Positive behavior interventions and supports is a multilevel approach to behavior support implementation that involves three tiers of interventions targeting students’ various levels of needs.”

  • Whole-school or class-wide implementation is found at the Tier 1 level, where agreed-upon behavioral expectations are defined and implemented. Students are presented with opportunities to develop these skills. 
  • Tier 2 support is for those who need targeted intervention or need something more than what can be provided by the Tier 1 level if at-risk behaviors manifest. This could look like individual or small-group sessions, with more opportunities for reinforcement and/or support plans. 
  • Tier 3 students need intensive reinforcement, with an intervention team constantly monitoring, as well as assessing. 

Involving Students in Behavior Interventions

“It has been argued that if children are not involved in the design and implementation of interventions, then the student will be less likely to commit to, or be compliant with, the treatment.”1 

The authors provide the key stages to help design tier 2 intervention. Starting with determining the function of challenging behavior, the student can either complete a functional assessment interview or do a self-assessment of recorded unexpected behavior. 

The authors believe that a primary source for data should be the student. Then, the intervention team and the student need to determine the target skill or behavior that should be optimized. 

The likelihood of a student being motivated to change the behavior increases when they themselves identify what behaviors they see as an opportunity for growth. “If a student believes that a behavior is not worth changing, it may be difficult to get them to make significant changes in the behavior.”

Once the behavior is identified, the goal criteria are determined. “Essentially, goals should follow the Goldilocks principle: They should be neither too easy nor too difficult to achieve; they should provide a challenge without being overwhelming for the student. It is at this level of difficulty in which learning is optimal.”1 

Once that is in place, the student needs to be involved in choosing reinforcers. These reinforcers need to be highly motivating. Student involvement is crucial as it boosts their chances of working towards desired behaviors. 

Data Collection

When collecting the data, it is imperative that the student is also present. According to the authors, the easiest way to collect data is to have the student do so. “The student can be taught to identify and record data when they are engaging in the target behaviors, using a number of self-management principles, thereby decreasing the reliance on external prompts and increasing awareness of their own behaviors”. 

As the student’s involvement increases in Tier 2 interventions, so does their self-awareness, self-advocacy, and self-determination in achieving desired targets.

Summarized Article:

Mallory, P. J., Hampshire, P. K., & Carter, D. R. (2021). Tier 2 Behavior Interventions: By the Student, for the Student. Intervention in School and Clinic, 1053451221994812.

Summary by: Nika Espinosa — Nika believes that personalized learning is at the heart of special education and strives to collaborate with educators in providing a holistic, personalized approach to supporting all learners through the MARIO Framework.

Additional Reference:

  1. Kennedy, E. K. (2015). The Revised SEND Code of Practice 0-25: Effective practice in engaging children and young people in decision-making about interventions for social, emotional and mental health needs. Support for Learning, 30(4), 364–380. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9604.12106

Researcher Patrick Mallory participated in the final version of this summary.

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We are a dedicated group of learners that are constantly seeking to improve the lives of the children we care for. Whether you are a teacher, parent, assistant, or administrator, we give you free access to the most recent special education related research and practices available. Our twice monthly MARIO Memo summarizes and shares studies from peer-reviewed journals, while our learning letters provide insights from MARIO classrooms.

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