Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Amy Lein


It is estimated that 0.7% (349,000) of students aged three to 21 have been diagnosed with an emotional disturbance (ED; NCES, 2018). Students with ED typically demonstrate social, behavioral, and academic deficiencies within the school setting. A large part of educating students with ED is providing positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) embedded within the structured school day. Antecedent behavior interventions (ABI), including the provision of choice-making opportunities, are examples of effective practice within the PBIS framework. Although there have been studies addressing choice-making for students with ED, most of the literature has focused on choice-making provided during mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) instruction. Therefore, this study employed a single-subject multiple-baseline across-participants design to examine the effect of choice-making provided in social skills instruction on both academic (i.e., correct responses) and behavioral outcomes (i.e., task engagement, disruptions) for three elementary-aged students with ED.

Results demonstrated improved behaviors of three student participants. All participants showed an increase in task engagement and a decrease in number of disruptions from baseline to intervention conditions, and one of three student participants increased the number of correct responses on social skills assignments from baseline to intervention condition. In this study, experimental control was not established and this precluded the establishment of a functional relationship. The results are inconclusive for social skills instruction. Limitations and discussion for future research in regard to choice-making for students with ED are provided.