Behavioral classroom norms in special education: Associations with peer acceptance and rejection

Behavioral classroom norms in special education: Associations with peer acceptance and rejection

This study investigated the role of behavioral norms on concurrent links between problem behaviors (externalizing problems, internalizing problems, attention–hyperactivity problems) and social status (acceptance, rejection) in special education classrooms at four time points within and across school years. Two opposing models were considered, the “person–group similarity model,” suggesting moderation of behavioral norms, and the “social skill model,” suggesting no moderation. The sample included a total of 580 pupils (88% boys, Mage Time1 = 10.82 years, SD = .86) attending 37 classrooms from 13 Dutch schools for special education. Multilevel analyses revealed that the data generally supported a “social skill model,” meaning that higher individual levels of attention–hyperactivity problems and externalizing problems were related to lower acceptance and higher rejection, independent of behavioral norms. Support for behavioral norms as moderators of the link between individual behaviors and social status was limited to pupils with attention–hyperactivity problems being less rejected in classrooms in which this behavior was normative. In sum, these results provide an initial exploration of the role of behavioral norms in special education. Various explanations for the results, including special education characteristics and the value of behavioral norms, are discussed.

Samenwerkingspartners
Radboud University, Tilburg University & CED-Groep

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