Special Education ETDs

Publication Date



Adolescents with emotional disturbance and those incarcerated present high risks for poor outcomes in high school, and as adults (e.g., Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004). Poor social competence is often a characteristic of this group of students (e.g., Kauffman, 2005; Maag, 2006). Historically, schools have responded to the social needs of this group of students through opportunities to participate in social problem-solving interventions (e.g., Cook, et al., 2008). Results of the research investigating these interventions, though, have shown moderate gains in student social problem-solving skills, yet limited to no effect on behavior in authentic social contexts (e.g., Maag, 2006; Quinn, Kavale, Mathur, Rutherford, & Forness, 1999; Smith & Travis, 2001). One explanation for the limited success of interventions may be the frameworks used to guide understanding of social problem solving and intervention practices. Social problem-solving frameworks may be conceptualizing the components and processes in too simplistic of terms. Other factors that influence behavior in social interactions were not represented in these instructional frameworks and as a result have not been attended to in intervention frameworks and curricula. To address this gap viii between research and practice, three studies were conducted to (1) establish the social validity of the cognitive and behavioral components of the proposed social problem-solving intervention model, (2) examine the characteristics of high-risk adolescents and the ways high-risk adolescents include social reflection, social problem-solving and social decision making in their narratives, (3) investigate the efficacy and effectiveness of an individual, narrative-based, cognitive-behavioral, social problem-solving intervention. The model was established as socially valid by both adolescent and adult respondents. Student personal oral narratives were analyzed and found to reflect limited narrative structure and limited inclusion of social problem-solving skill components. A single-subject, multiple-baseline across participants design was used to assess the efficacy of the intervention. Results of this study showed significant positive effects for inclusion of social problem-solving steps, inclusion of story grammar elements, and landscape of consciousness words in personal narratives following intervention. Students reported being satisfied with the program and skills learned. The replication of these findings, in other settings and with other interventionists, is recommended for future studies.


Youth with social disabilities--Psychology, Youth with social disabilities--Rehabilitation, Social skills--Study and teaching, Conflict management--Study and teaching, Narrative inquiry (Research method)

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Blalock, Ginger

Second Committee Member

Nielsen, Elizabeth

Third Committee Member

Oetzel, John