University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

Paraeducator Supports:

The effect of continuous improvement training for teacher-paraprofessional teams on interaction and engagement of special education students in general education classrooms

Devlin, Patricia A. (2002). The effect of continuous improvement training for teacher-paraprofessional teams on interaction and engagement of special education students in general education classrooms.

Institution: Eastern Michigan University



In the delivery of special education services, an area of concern is the utilization of paraprofessionals providing support for students with special needs in general education classrooms. Various issues have emerged with this educational trend, including paraprofessional training, roles and responsibilities, and supervision. In addition, prior research has indicated that unnecessary and excessive paraprofessional proximity in general education environments could negatively affect the instruction and social development of students with significant disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether specific awareness and training for paraprofessional-teacher teams would reduce the potential of negative effects and improve the chances of student success in a general education environment. Student success was defined as moving away from primarily one-to-one paraprofessional support, gaining interdependence with classroom members, and maintaining student engagement. A quasi-experimental design utilizing a pretest-posttest control group with matched subjects was employed. Each group consisted of six students with significant disabilities, five general education teachers, and five paraeducators. A specific ecobehavioral software system (MS-CISSAR) developed for studying special education settings was utilized to collect and analyze student interaction and engagement. Teams in the experimental group participated in a ten-hour training that emphasized continuous improvement components of teamwork, goal setting, and data collection. Results indicated an increase in teacher interaction and a decrease in paraprofessional interaction following the training component. With the exception of one student, minimal change occurred in peer interaction. Engaged behavior was not found to noticeably change; however, it was most likely to occur when the paraprofessional was the teacher for this group of students. The probability of engaged behavior also increased when students participated in small-group and independent methods of instruction. A finding of this study was that when teacher-paraprofessional teams collaborated, established a goal promoting student interdependence, and monitored and adjusted actions towards their goal, they reduced the potential of negative effects and improved the chances of student success. Data also indicated that additional personnel are needed to promote student engaged behavior; however, the utilization of paraprofessional support requires careful thought as well as consideration of the overall organization of the classroom.

Last modified February 14 2008 11:22 AM

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