Printer Friendly

Team-assisted individualization with handicapped adjudicated youth.

Team-Assisted Individualization With Handicapped Adjudicated Youth

Recently, there has been a growing commitment by educators to provide educational and supportive services to handicapped adjudicated youth (Keilitz, 1984). Data indicate that a significant number of handicapped adjudicated youth have academic deficiencies (Bell, Parker, & Saunders, 1983; Morgan, 1979) and exhibit a variety of inappropriate behaviors that limit their ability to function in the mainstream of society and the educational system (Burnett, 1982).

One instructional procedure that may be successful with adjudicated youth in promoting academic, behavioral, and affective skills is Team-Assisted Individualization (TAI; Slavin, Leavey, & Madden, 1984). TAI is a cooperative learning system whereby heterogeneous groups of individuals work together to master individualized assignments (Slavin, Madden, & Leavey, 1984). In TAI, individual group members work on their own assignments and assist other group members with their assignments. Group members are then rewarded if their team's performance exceeds a pre-established criterion. Whereas several other cooperative learning strategies are group-paced, TAI is unique in that it combines cooperatively structured learning with individualized instruction.

Research by Slavin and coworkers has shown that TAI led to a significant increase in academic performance and peer relationships. They reported that TAI was superior to traditional group-paced instruction in promoting mathematics achievement. Additionally, they reported that TAI has been successful in facilitating the acceptance of handicapped students by their nonhandicapped peers, promoting propitious attitudes toward math, and improving teachers' perceptions of the behaviors of handicapped students. In related research, other cooperative learning strategies have been effective in teaching a variety of academic, cognitive, and social skills (Aronson, 1978; Sharan, 1980).

Although cooperative learning systems have been successful in promoting a wide range of skills in nonhandicapped and mainstreamed students, their use with handicapped adjudicated youth has yet to be evaluated empirically. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of TAI on the academic, behavioral, and social skills of several classes of handicapped adjudicated youth. In addition, data on the students' reactions (Greenwood & Hops, 1981) to TAI are presented.



Three classes of handicapped adjudicated youth served as subjects in this study. All were males assigned by the courts to live and attend school in a residential New York State Division for Youth facility. They were remanded to the facility because they had committed a variety of crimes including assault, robbery, car theft, rape, and murder. All had been labeled emotionally disturbed by multidisciplinary placement teams in accordance with New York State guidelines. They received their language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and vocational instruction as part of a departmentalized program, and they received supplemental instruction in a remedial math class. Descriptive data on the students are provided in Table 1.


The study was conducted during all three classes' 20-minute remedial math period. In all three classes, students worked on individually assigned worksheets without assistance from their classmates. The content of the individualized assignments on which students worked during all baseline and intervention phases came from Basic Skills in Mathematics (Mathematics Basic Skills Development Project, 1981), an individualized mastery-learning program. It was designed to assist low achievers in middle, junior, and senior high school in mastering basic math computation skills including whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.

Target Behaviors

Target behaviors included on-task behavior, cooperative behaviors, and academic performance. First, because the teacher indicated that off-task behaviors were interfering with learning, and research has shown that on-task behavior is positively related to academic performance (Cooley & Leinhardt, 1980), increasing on-task behavior was selected as one of the target behaviors. On-task behavior was defined as eyes and/or pencil directed at the required book, workbook, paper, or assignment. Also included were eyes directed at peers discussing the material and eyes directed at the teacher when instructions, directions, and feedback were given. On-task behavior also consisted of comments related to the material being covered in class.

Second, because many of the students exhibited inappropriate socialization patterns, cooperative behaviors were selected as target behaviors. Cooperative behaviors included both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Cooperative verbal behaviors were defined as: "(a) verbalized requests for assistance or instruction; (b) verbalizations of friendship, concern, or congratulations; and (c) cheering" (Frankosky & Sulzer-Azaroff, 1978, p. 315). Cooperative nonverbal behaviors were defined as "gestures of friendship, concern, or congratulations and gestures for assistance" (Frankosky & Sulzer-Azaroff, 1978, p. 315).

Third, because researchers should choose target behaviors that help students become effective learners (Winett & Winkler, 1972), academic performance also was included in this study. Academic performance was measured by the number of problems attempted and the number of problems completed correctly.

Data Measurement Strategies

Data on the target behaviors were recorded through a variety of data measurement strategies. Data on the classes' on-task behavior were collected by an independent observer using a whole-interval recording system, whereby the observer systematically sampled each student's on-task behavior for 15-second intervals throughout the observation period. Cooperative behaviors were recorded independently by the use of event recording. Academic performance levels for each student were documented by recording the number of both problems attempted and problems completed correctly.

Interobserver Agreement

Interobserver agreement measures of on-task behavior, cooperative behavior, and academic performance were obtained by having two trained observers independently record the target behaviors. Reliability for on-task behavior was calculated by dividing the number of agreements by the number of agreements and disagreements for each observation and multiplying by 100. Reliability for the cooperative behaviors was calculated by dividing the smaller number of cooperative behaviors by the larger for each observation and multiplying by 100. Reliability for items attempted and items completed correctly was calculated by dividing the number of agreements and disagreements for each observation and multiplying by 100. For all classes, interobserver reliability measures were taken on 33% of the sessions and across all phases. Interobserver agreement measures are presented in Table 2.

Sociometric Ratings

To examine changes in the sociometric ratings of the group members, the sociogram How I Feel Toward Others (Agard, Veldman, Kaufman, & Semmel, 1978) was administered at the end of the Baseline 1 and Intervention 2 phases. How I Feel Toward Others is a fixed-choice sociometric rating scale where each class member rates every other class member as "like very much" (friend), "all right" (feels neutral toward), "don't like" (does not want as a friend) or "don't know."

Client Satisfaction

Because an important aspect of social validation is client satisfaction (Greenwood & Hops, 1981), data on the students' preferences for intervention procedures also were collected by surveying the students at the end of the study. Questions comprising the survey included: (a) Would you rather work individually or cooperatively in teams? (b) What did you like about working cooperatively? (c) What didn't you like about working cooperatively? (d) When you worked in groups, what did others do to help you? (e) Did you like giving help to others? Why? Why not? An open-ended format was selected over a questionnaire with a Likert-type scale because it allowed for a greater range of responses and was easier for the students to complete.

Experimental Design

The study employed a reversal design (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968). The procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of the cooperative learning system across the target behaviors are described as follows.

Baseline 1. Before the intervention was begun, data were taken on each group's performance of the target behaviors using the data-recording strategies previously described. The teacher responded to the students' behaviors in her usual manner and made no unusual attempts to influence behavior. Baseline 1 conditions were maintained for Class A, Class B, and Class C for 7, 6, and 6 days, respectively.

Intervention 1. The intervention was a Team-Assisted Individualization system (Slavin, Madden, & Leavey, 1984). Within each class, the teacher assigned students to two- to three-member teams. The teams were composed of high, average, and low math achievers as determined by the Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational Battery (Woodcock & Johnson, 1977) and the High Intensity Learning System (Random House, 1974). The teams remained intact throughout the intervention phases.

Based on the assessment results, individualized units of instruction were developed for each student. Each unit contained a list of instructions, skillsheets, and answer sheets. Team members exchanged answer sheets and worked on the skillsheets for their individualized units, and they asked their teammates for assistance when necessary. To provide each team with a work area, each team member moved his desk into a clustered group so that each team member's desk faced that of another team member.

When each team member completed a minimum of four problems from the skillsheet, a teammate checked the answers using the unit answer sheet. If all the answers were correct, the team member proceeded to the next skillsheet. If any of the problems were answered incorrectly, the team member went back to the initial skillsheet until a minimum of four pboblems were answered correctly. Upon completing a unit and obtaining the consent of all teammates, a team member could take a practice test. A practice test was a 10-problem pretest that paralleled the content of the unit's skillsheets. A teammate scored the practice test. After receiving the results of the practice test, the team was consulted to determine if the team member was ready to take a final test, which was similar in content and difficulty to the practice test. If the teammate failed to receive the approval of the team to take the final test, the teacher gave the team member additional skillsheets. In addition to receiving assistance from peers, each student worked with the teacher for 5 to 10 minutes to review difficult items and concepts and to prepare for the next unit.

When each team member had taken at least one final test, a team's group average on final tests was computed. If the team's average exceeded 85%, reinforcement was delivered to the whole team. Reinforcers were generated using a reinforcement survey (Raschke, 1981) and included computer time, free time, and a popcorn party. Intervention 1 was maintained for 7 days for all classes.

Baseline 2. This period replicated the conditions described in Baseline 1. Baseline 2 conditions lasted for 6 days for all classes.

Intervention 2. This phase was characterized by a return to the experimental conditions described in Intervention 1. Intervention 2 conditions were maintained for 10 days.

Follow-up. This phase replicated the conditions described in the intervention phases. Follow-up measurements were conducted once a week for 4 weeks after the end of Intervention 2 conditions.


The results are presented in Figures 1 and 2 as well as Table 2. The findings showed that TAI resulted in an increase in the classes' on-task and cooperative behaviors. However, significant improvements in the academic performance of the classes were not noted.

Sociometric Ratings

The analysis of the students' sociometric responses indicated that TAI led to an improvement in the subjects' liking of their classmates. Of the number of changes in the scores students gave each other, 23% were in a positive direction, while 11% percent of the changes were in a negative direction.

Client Satisfaction

Student preferences were consistently in favor of TAI. All students (100%) stated they preferred TAI to working independently. Students reported that they preferred TAI because they like giving and providing assistance, receiving immediate feedback on their performance, getting to know their teammates, making group decisions, and completing more work. The concerns students had about working cooperatively included getting along with their teammates and finding enough workspace. The students noted that their peers assisted them by correcting their work immediately and by explaining the correct way to solve a problem. Finally, all students reported that they liked giving help to their teammates because it made them feel better and made it easier for them to ask others for assistance.


The findings of this study suggest that TAI is an effective method of increasing the on-task and cooperative behaviors in a self-contained class of handicapped adjudicated youth. Furthermore, the follow-up data indicate that the reactive effects of TAI were long-lasting, and student preference data showed that the students strongly preferred TAI to working independently.

Although students' math performance improved under the TAI conditions, it was not clear that academic performance did in fact increase as a function of the intervention. There was considerable overlap in the ranges across phases for Classes A and C; and the percentage data was high for Class B, which had an upward trend between Baseline 2 and Intervention 2. The failure of the TAI to promote substantial increases in math performance can be attributed to a ceiling effect, in that the original baseline performance was so high that there was little room for improvement. Moreover, the relatively brief duration that the intervention was in effect may have minimized its effectiveness on academic performance (Slavin, Madden, & Leavey, 1984). The latter explanation is supported by the follow-up data, which indicated continued and significant improvements in academic performance.

Since many handicapped adjudicated youth exhibit inappropriate social skills that can interfere with their ability to develop positive relationships with others (Burnett, 1982), the findings that TAI significantly increased the cooperative behaviors of the three classes and led to a concomitant improvement in the subjects' liking of their class members are particularly noteworthy. Several factors may have contributed to these developments. The group management aspect of TAI may have engendered group cooperation by requiring the group members to seek and provide assistance in learning the material, checking answers, and making decisions. Additionally, the group's common goal may have fostered group cohesiveness by promoting a mutual helping that can stimulate a sense of responsibility to the group as well as a desire to gain the respect of the group (Johnson & Johnson, 1978). Thus, TAI may be an especially useful procedure for educators to use in preparing handicapped adjudicated youth to enter the mainstream of society and the educational system.

The group's common goal also may have been instrumental in the increase in the subjects' liking for their classmates. This finding is consistent with the research that suggests that cooperative learning systems result in increased sociometric status for peers (Slavin, Madden, & Leavey, 1984) and more favorable attitudes toward other group members (Johnson & Johnson, 1978). Unexpectedly, negative changes in sociometric responses were evident in 11% of the subjects' responses. The negative reactions may have been related to the failure of some students to pass their tests, which can lead to lower achieving students' being rejected by their higher achieving peers (Steiner, 1972).

Previous research indicates that students experiencing cooperative learning arrangements prefer cooperative learning arrangements to competitive ones (Johnson & Johnson, 1974). The student satisfaction data of this study are consistent with prior research, in that all of the students in the three classes stated that they preferred to work cooperatively. The students' preference for TAI also was supported by the students' requests to "work with their partners" when reversal was introduced in Baseline 2. Students reported that they preferred TAI because they could receive immediate feedback from their teammates without waiting for the teacher.

Handicapped adjudicated youth have a variety of academic, social, and behavioral needs. TAI is a cooperative instructional strategy that educators can employ to address these needs. Future research is needed to examine which

aspect of TAI, the cooperative learning or the group contingency, affects change. Future studies also should collect social validity data to assess what teachers thought of the intervention as well as their perception of its effects on student and teacher behavior.


Agard, J. A., Veldman, D. J., Kaufman, M. J., & Semmel, M. I. (1978). How I Feel Toward Others: An instrument of the PRIME instrument battery. Baltimore: University Park Press.

Aronson, E. (1978). The jigsaw classroom. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.

Bell, E. R., Parker, L. G., & Saunders, J. C. (1983). Incarcerations and the rate of achievement of learning disabled juvenile delinquents. Journal of Experimental Education, 51, 54-57.

Burnett, D. J. (1982). The learning disabled delinquent: Teaching socially appropriate reactions to confrontations for negative behaviors. Journal of Special Education Technology, 5, 44-52.

Cooley, W., & Leinhardt, G. (1980). The instructional dimensions study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2, 7-24.

Frankosky, R. J., & Sulzer-Azaroff, B. (1978). Individual and group contingencies and collateral social behaviors. Behavior Therapy, 9, 313-327.

Greenwood, C. R., & Hops, H. (1981). Group-oriented contingencies and peer behavior change. In P. S. Strain (Ed.), The utilization of peers as behavior change agents, pp. 189-250. New York: Plenum Press.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1974). Instructional goal structure: Cooperative, competitive or individualistic. Review of Educational Research, 44, 213-240.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1978). Cooperative, competitive and individualistic learning. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 12, 3-15.

Keilitz, I. (1984, April). The handicapped youthful offender: Prevalence and current practices. Paper prepared for Corrections/Special Education Training Conference, Arlington, Virginia. (Available from C/SET Project, Arizona State University, Department of Special Education, Tempe.)

Mathematics Basic Skills Development Project. (1981). Basic skills in mathematics. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Morgan, D. I. (1979). Prevalence and types of handicapping conditions found in juvenile correctional institutions: A national survey. Journal of Special Education, 3, 283-295.

Random House. (1974). High intensity learning system. New York: Author.

Raschke, D. (1981). Designing reinforcement surveys--Let the student choose the reward. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 14, 92-96.

Sharan, S. (1980). Cooperative learning in teams: Recent methods and effects on achievement, attitudes and ethnic relations. Review of Educational Research, 50, 241-272.

Slavin, R. E., Leavey, M., & Madden, N. A. (1984). Combining cooperative learning and individualized instruction: Effects on student mathematics achievement, attitudes and behaviors. Elementary School Journal, 84, 409-422.

Slavin, R. E., Madden, N. A., & Leavey, M. (1984). Effects of cooperative learning and individualized instruction on mainstreamed students. Exceptional Children, 50, 434-443.

Steiner, I. (1972). Group process and productivity. New York: Academic Press.

Winett, R. A., & Winkler, R. C. (1972). Current behavior modification in the classroom: Be still, be quiet, be docile. Jrnl of Appld Behavior Anlyss, 5, 499-504.

Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, M. B. (1977). Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational Battery. Hingham, MA: Teaching Resources.

SPENCER J. SALEND is Professor, Department of Educational Studies, State University of New York at New Paitz. BARBARA WASHIN is Special Education Teacher, Eddie Parker Residential Center, Red Hook, New York.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Council for Exceptional Children
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Salend, Spencer J.; Washin, Barbara
Publication:Exceptional Children
Date:Oct 1, 1988
Previous Article:Decreasing violent or aggressive theme play among preschool children with behavior disorders.
Next Article:Financial implications of half- and full-time employment for persons with disabilities: a response to Schloss, Wolf, and Schloss.

Related Articles
Service coordination between correctional and public school systems for handicapped juvenile offenders.
Transition and other services for handicapped students in local education agencies.
Inclusion: one way a professional development school can make a difference.
Clinton's juvenile justice legislation proposes grants to states, localities.
YSI Signs Letter of Intent to Merge With Community Corrections, Inc.
breeders cup: Man in the news - Philip Johnson: Sixty years on: recognition at last for doyen of New York.
Esperanza USA Awarded National Grant to Help Latino Youth.
Assistant superintendent.
A new youth?; young people, generations and family life.
Making it personal; individualising activation services in the EU.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters