Will direct engagement with learners change how you provide behavioral support?

The core of personalized learning lies in the direct engagement with our learners through one-to-one sessions and one-to-one conferences. This engagement allows students to connect, identify, activate and be empowered throughout their personalized learning journey.

Key Takeaway: The core of personalized learning lies in the direct engagement with our learners through one-to-one sessions and one-to-one conferences. This engagement allows students to connect, identify, activate and be empowered throughout their personalized learning journey. —Michael Ho

Summary: Nick James Gore, Peter McGill, and Richard Patrick Hastings share their independent research study that examines the impact of direct engagements with learners who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).

The study aims to: 

1) guide learners to develop a goal selection procedure 

2) engage directly with children to identify personalized goals and priorities for their future support

Here are the major takeaways

  • The study had 14 participants, aged 4 to 15, go through a Talking Mat (TM) method. The TM method consists of a set of symbols relevant to a subject area; the participants were asked semi-open questions in relation to each symbol and invited to identify their views, feelings, and experiences on the corresponding mat. The researchers could interview 9 out of 14 children. These 9 children were able to understand the TM framework, as they were able to express their views and experiences and select personalized goals.
  • “Direct engagement with people who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) reflects the person-centered values of positive behavioral support (PBS) but also a human rights agenda.” Most of the time, PBS involves the family and other stakeholders to support the child. However, this study found that direct engagement with children who have IDD, which was reflected in the researchers’ guidance and their interaction with the participants during the TM sessions, is at the heart of PBS.
  • Overall, children in the study appeared “happy and confident to work with the researcher in the context of proactive supports.” This indicates that when adults are able to directly engage with and actively support the learner, students will become happier and build more self-confidence.
  • “Positive behavioral support (PBS) seeks to enhance skills, opportunities, environments and interactions in ways related to an individual’s specific needs and aspirations and reduce risk of behaviors that challenge over both the short and longer term”. As researchers engaged in direct engagement with the children and provided them with quality guidance, the opportunities, environments, and interactions of what makes up PBS are enhanced.
  • The study shows that the researchers’ direct engagement with children with IDD led to greater increase in the childrens’ choice-making opportunities and self-determination.
  • “This study provides initial evidence of the potential for direct engagement with children/young people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) through a structured process to identify priorities and goals for future behavioral support.” However, future policy in education should also emphasize direct engagement with learners who have specific needs.
  • The direct engagement between the researchers and children led to establishing a stronger relationship and rapport with both the children and their families.

This study had some limitations, such that the data from this study was not compared to data from other sources. It was also not possible to complete interviews with five other participants, all of whom had limited verbal skills or were non-verbal. Despite the limitations, this study provided evidence that one-to-one engagement with children with IDD led to the development of personalized goals

Further research is needed to engage in direct engagement with a wider range of learners and to examine how these goals could support development of effective interventions and assessments

Article Summarized:

Gore, N.J., McGill, P. & Hastings, R.P. Personalized Goals for Positive Behavioral Support: Engaging Directly with Children who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. J Child Fam Stud 30, 375–387 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01867-2

Summary By: Michael Ho - Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.

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Join the MARIO Family

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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