Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Education and Human Development

Committee Chair

Rudasill, Kathy

Author's Keywords

Motivational interviewing; First step to success; Teacher child relationships; Teacher behavior; Emotional behavioral; Behavior challenges


Teachers of children with disabilities--Attitudes; Teacher-student relationships; Developmentally disabled children--Education; Affective education


The First Step to Success early intervention program (Walker, 1998) is a secondary prevention intervention that targets primary grade children with moderate or emerging behavior disorders. While the effectiveness of the First Step to Success early intervention program has been documented repeatedly (see Loman, Rodriguez, & Homer, 2010; Walker et aI., 2009), it has also been shown to be less effective with more severely disordered children and has a less dramatic impact on behavior in the home than in the school setting. Efforts to enhance the program's effectiveness with even the most severely behaviorally disordered children have been undertaken, and completed. This research collaboration between the Oregon Research Institute and the University of Louisville examined the utility and feasibility of enhancements to the home and classroom components of the First Step to Success intervention. These enhancements, which rely heavily on the infusion of Motivational Interviewing (Miller & Rollnick, 2002) practices, broadened the ecological focus of the intervention and produced significant changes in the participating children and their families. The following dissertation examines enhancements focused on the classroom teacher's use of praise to help replace the intervention's systematic use of external reinforcers; and to reduce the attention for inappropriate behavior (reprimands) that often inadvertently maintains the challenging behavior teachers seek to eliminate. The resulting enhancement, hereafter referred to as the First Step Classroom Check-up, is largely based on the original work of Reinke, Lewis-Palmer, and Merrell (2008). An open multiple-case-study design (Meyers, Truscott, Meyers, Varjas & Collins, 2007) was used to investigate the intervention for the purpose of innovation and development. The observed increase in teachers' use of praise and decreased reprimands, along with overall positive responses in terms of the interventions social validity, and positive child outcomes provide support for the integration of the Classroom Check-up (Reinke et al., 2008) into an Enhanced version of the First Step to Success Early Intervention Program. These outcomes also demonstrate the promise of future investigations ofthese interventions separately, and as combined and the probability that the efficacy of the intervention could be investigated.