Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in School Psychology


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Dihoff, Roberta


Mentally ill children--Education; Problem solving in children; Social skills--Study and teaching


Educational Psychology


The purpose of this pretest-posttest descriptive study was to examine the efficacy of a SPS training intervention for emotionally disturbed children in the special education system, with respect to social skills acquisition, family environment, reduction in non-compliant behaviors and sociometric status. Participants included eighteen students in four self-contained classrooms of a Special Services Regional Day School. The sample included one white female, eleven white males, three black and three Hispanic males with a mean age of eleven years and ten months.

All classes were exposed to a six month program with lessons from the Readiness Phase of Elias and Clabby's (1989) Social Decision-Making Skills: A Curriculum Guide for Elementary Grades. Teachers completed the Social Problem Solving Checklist at pre and postintervention. Ex post facto data were collected from student files and sociometric data came from teacher interviews.

In general, percentage of change indicated that SPS training had positive effects on self-control and group participation skills and non-compliant behaviors decreased. This study highlighted the efficacy of preventative approaches and longitudinal research was recommended to evaluate the long term benefits of SPS training of emotionally disturbed children.