Biotechnology

The mobile app allows students with special needs to monitor their own behavior,

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — When Sara Estrapala began her career as a high school educator supporting students with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, learning disorders and challenging behaviors, she quickly recognized a challenge — her teenage students wanted to make their own decisions and their own. teachers struggle to keep them engaged and following directions.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — When Sara Estrapala began her career as a high school educator supporting students with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, learning disorders and challenging behaviors, she quickly recognized a challenge — her teenage students wanted to make their own decisions and their own. teachers struggle to keep them engaged and following directions.

Now a research assistant professor at the University of Missouri College of Education and Human Development, Estrapala leads a four-year, $519,939 early career development and mentoring grant aimed at increasing academic engagement and reducing disruptive behavior by empowering selected students to self-regulate. own behavior.

“Interventions that teachers provide to support secondary school students may not be sufficient for their needs, because students want the opportunity to make their own decisions and have a voice in everything they decide to do,” says Estrapala. “Ultimately, we want students to have the skills they need to increase their academic engagement and reduce their disruptive behavior so they can access the school curriculum.”

To test the intervention, about 50 public high school students from Jefferson City, Hallsville, and Fulton will participate. Students will first set goals for how they want to improve, whether that is paying more attention to the teacher or following directions better. Then, they will monitor and self-evaluate the progress of their goals using a self-monitoring application called I-Connect.

After downloading I-Connect, students will receive periodic alerts with prompts to determine if they are engaging in goal-oriented behaviors, such as paying attention or participating in classwork. In addition, the app creates graphs of student progress, which students, teachers and support staff can analyze to track progress.

Estrapala will be mentored by Erica Lembke, a professor of special education at MU, and by Howard Wills, a professor at the University of Kansas.

“We need to capitalize on the developmental need for students to make independent decisions and have a say in what they want to do, and I wanted to combine that with some of the evidence-based practices that we already know work, like goal setting, self-regulation. -monitoring and self-evaluation,” said Estrapala. “Adults often feel they know what is best for students, but going forward, let’s ask students themselves what their goals are and then have them go through a learning process about their own behavior and how to change it systematically. who can help in class.”

Funding was provided by the US Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences.


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