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Training Series:
Teacher Problem Solving Skills in Behavioral Disorders

The over-arching theme of the training series is to provide flexible training materials to enhance problem solving of teachers preparing to serve children with social, emotional, and behavioral disorders. The materials are appropriate for special educators, general educators, and other professionals involved in serving these children. The presentation format makes it possible to use the programs in both preservice and inservice situations.

Three of the instructional programs utilize case study scenario simulations. Learners have access to computer, videodisc, and print resources to go through the problem solving processes of investigating for information, formulating ideas, and evaluating their decisions. Materials placed on the videodiscs and software programs allow users to observe children in a variety of school situations; gain background information relevant to behavioral disorders; gather case information regarding the child; solicit input from "experts" who talk about approaches and interventions; and carry out problem solving activities related to planning services for the child. Each of the programs provides a database of theoretical and applied information for building declarative knowledge relevant to the problem solving activities which are centered on the case study children and focus on a specific phase of educational services.

One of the instructional programs utilizes classroom videos to provide training and practice in systematic observation skills:

Research Findings

Initial research with the TPSS materials shows that students are enthusiastic about their learning experiences and cite the self-pacing, contextual situations, multiple ways of learning, and interactive participation as more motivating and realistic as compared to traditional instructional methods. Here's what three users said about working with the TPSS program:

I felt personally that it was very helpful because it made you feel like you were in the classroom looking at a particular child. You could focus on that child and then you could take you own personal notes, but go back and listen to what the experts had to say and what type of notes they felt were important when viewing the child. (Angela, 1995).

Everything is right there--the kids on the video--so basically it's not like I had to go out into a classroom. You know, I got hands-on experience right here in the computer lab. (David, 1995).

I think the program was really great. It had a lot of information ...things I really wouldn't have gone into or read about in the course if we were just going through the bookwork and doing normal papers and tests, and I think it provided another way of learning. The computer is so valuable. It should be used more like this. It just seems so much more effective...just because you could see it ahead of time before going in to student teach. And you're like, "Oh, this is what they look like and this is what's going on." (Karla, 1995).

These materials were under development for four years. Partially funded by a U.S. Department of Education Special Project, grant #H029K30201, the materials are being distributed to preservice and inservice personnel training programs. The programs are available without cost except for shipping and handling charges. Project co-directors are Dr. Louis Semrau, Department of Special Education, Arkansas State University; and Dr. Gail Fitzgerald, School of Information and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri-Columbia.


For more information regarding the TPSS Training Series, see:

Fitzgerald, G., O'Donnell, L., and Johnson-Gerard, M. (1997). Technology and behavioral disorders: A Missouri consortium training project.Counterpoint, 18(2), 7-9.

Semrau, L., & Fitzgerald, G. (1995). Interactive case studies in behavioral disorders: Looking at children from multiple perspectives. Education and Treatment of Children. 18, 348-359.

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