Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational & Clinical Studies

First Committee Member

Tom Pierce

Second Committee Member

Kyle Higgins

Third Committee Member

Joe Morgan

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Tandy

Number of Pages



Students with emotional and behavioral disorders often present with social skills deficits that negatively impact their outcomes in the educational setting. The inability of students to demonstrate appropriate social skills may lead to placement in more restrictive educational environments, limiting opportunities for social interactions with general education peers. Students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are often overrepresented in the disability category of emotional and behavioral disorder and experience more frequent placement in more restrictive settings. Traditionally, students with emotional and behavioral disorders are taught social skills through direct instruction approaches. Limited research has identified if direct instruction approaches to teach social skills are also effective for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with disabilities. In addition, minimal studies have focused on using general education peers to support the instruction of social skills to students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Increasing opportunities for social interactions among students with and without disabilities may lead to increased demonstration of social skills across settings and student development of social competency.

Two different instructional approaches were compared, traditional direct instruction of cooperation skills and the combination of direct instruction and cooperation games with general education peers. Data were analyzed to compare the effects of the instructional approaches on student self-reports, general education teacher reports, and special education teacher reports of behavioral constructs as measured through the Behavior Assessment System for Children - Second Edition (BASC-2). Student knowledge of cooperation skills and peer perceptions of social interactions were also compared. Social validity measures across participants were also administered at the completion of the intervention.

The results indicated that neither of the instructional approaches influenced student knowledge of cooperation skills over time. Student self-reports revealed that students with emotional and behavioral disorders reported more positive relationships with their parents and more negative attitudes toward their teachers at the completion of the intervention, as measured through subscales of the BASC-2. The special education teacher at the treatment school reported a decrease in student social skills after the intervention. There were no significant differences in general education teacher perceptions of student behavioral functioning post-intervention. At the comparison school, differences were indicated between general and special education teacher perspectives of student behavioral functioning post-intervention. The general education peer participants reported that they were more likely to have a friend with a student with an emotional and behavioral disorder after participating in the cooperation games. Data from the social validity measures indicated that students at the treatment school had more positive views of the direct instruction lessons than students at the comparison school, and they enjoyed the cooperation games and interacting with their peers. Both general and special education teachers reported increases in student cooperation and interactions over the course of the study on a social validity measure.


Cooperation; Direct instruction; Emotional and behavioral disorders; Inclusive practices; Mainstreaming in education; Minority students; Social interactions; Social skills; Social skills – Study and teaching; Social validity; Special education; Students with disabilities; Students with social disabilities


Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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