Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Edward J. Daly III

Date of this Version

Summer 5-2020

Document Type



Kane, Elisabeth J. (2020). Training Teachers to Differentiate Instruction to Address Work Completion Problems in Math (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (School Psychology), Under the Supervision of Professor Edward J. Daly III. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2020

Copyright 2020 Elisabeth J. Kane


This dissertation investigated an adaptation of functional analysis methodology, performance deficit analysis (PDA), and its use in training teachers to differentiate instruction for students having difficulty completing independent math seatwork. Participants included three middle school teachers and one of their students who was referred for having difficulty completing his or her work. Behavioral skills training was used to individually train each teacher to interpret her student’s PDA data, determine if the student had a skill or performance deficit, and select appropriate motivational and instructional strategies to increase the student’s performance. To answer the research questions, a multiple-baseline-design across teachers was used to measure the effects of training on both teacher instructional behavior and student responding during independent seatwork tasks. During baseline and intervention, teachers were observed in their classroom to measure the percentage occurrence of instructional and motivational strategies provided to their target student during independent seatwork time. Instructional strategies were measured as antecedents and consequences. Results of the experimental analysis indicated that teachers immediately increased their use of instructional strategies relative to their baseline levels of responding. A staggered pattern of increases across teachers conformed to design requirements, indicating that experimental control was achieved. However, teachers displayed variability in their use of instructional strategies across the intervention phase and did not consistently implement key reinforcement strategies. Results did not generally confirm significant improvements in student work completion or accuracy. Teachers’ ability to generalize training to a case example was also measured with mixed results. Limitations in terms of teacher training and environmental conditions are examined. Areas for future research are discussed.

Advisor: Edward J. Daly III, Ph.D.