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Higher Education: Description and Links

Brief Overview

Positive behavior support is taught in undergraduate and graduate level courses across the United States. While a number of universities offer dedicated courses in positive behavior support, other professors embed positive behavior support into courses dedicated to topics related to special education, classroom management, school improvement planning, and related topics.

Leaders in positive behavior support can be found across different departments in higher education including but not limited to Special Education, Psychology, Education, Communication Disorders, and in many other related departments. Professors who have made positive behavior support an important part of their research and training efforts tend to focus on certain areas within the field of positive behavior support based on their strengths and natural interests.

Many of the academic professionals who are interested in positive behavior support also place an emphasis on the importance of research to practice. As a result, opportunities for individuals to learn more via universities and colleges are becoming easier to find for professionals working in education, mental health, children and family services and in the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Online training systems are now being offered in a number of universities for individuals who are interested in learning more about positive behavior support.

Universities around the world are actively expanding research in positive behavior support with funding from a variety of different sources. Technical assistance and research-to-practice projects funded by federal and regional sources have helped to increase awareness of positive behavior support within local communities. Large-scale systems change efforts implemented in collaboration with state departments of education to embed positive behavior support into schools, districts, and provinces, are available in most states and in a growing number of countries.

The Members' section of apbs.org has been organized to provide individuals with more information about what universities and colleges with which APBS members are associated. Individuals interested in graduate programs can use this information to learn more about the universities that do provide training in positive behavior support.

The APBS member’s section includes posting and advertisements about graduate studies and jobs available in higher education. If you are interested in learning more about the APBS higher education community, please consider becoming a member of APBS. Visit the Student Network associated with APBS. The Student Network is a community of practice that includes undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States. The Student Network is an active group involved in activities occurring throughout the year and with activities scheduled during the Annual APBS conference as well. Click here to learn more about the APBS Student Network.

You may also be able to learn more about the types of higher education opportunities available in your area by becoming a member of an APBS Network. APBS Networks are regional community of practice groups that have organized across the United States and in other countries. Some of these networks focus on particular topic areas at a regional level while other networks are interagency in focus. Several APBS networks are organized at a national level around topics including home and community services and SWPBS.
Learn more about APBS Networks or find an APBS Network.

Learn more about Positive Behavior Support by becoming a member.

Visit the Member's Area

Get involved in a local APBS Network

Tertiary Level: PBS Practices From the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center

PBS Practices are brief fact sheets that describe effective practices in Positive Behavior Support. Each Practice includes a rationale, overview, examples, issues and needs, and frequently-asked questions on a designated topic. The purpose of the series on PBS Practices is to provide information about important elements of positive behavior support. PBS Practices are not specific recommendations for implementation, and they should always be considered within the larger context of planning, assessment and comprehensive support.

  • Methods of Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) PDF
  • Collaborative Teaming in PBS PDF
  • Proactive Support Strategies PDF
  • Positive Consequence Strategies PDF
  • Teaching Replacement Skills PDF
  • Systems Change in Positive Behavior Support PDF
  • Competing Behavior Model PDF
  • Group Action Planning and PBS PDF
  • Addressing Cultural and Economic Diversity in PBS PDF

Examples of PBS Plans

Hannah’s PBS plan: http://www.apbs.org/Hannah.aspx

Britney’s PBS plan: http://www.apbs.org/BritneyStory.htm

Research-based Case Study Summaries

The following vignettes come from peer-reviewed research articles or chapters found in the literature. These summaries are intended to provide ideas that are related to validated intervention strategies that are implemented in the field. While these vignettes are helpful in learning more about positive behavior support and behavior intervention strategies, they are only intended to be examples. All PBS plans should start with person-centered or wraparound plan and functional behavioral assessment. The functional behavioral assessment is used to identify interventions that are based on the function maintaining the behavior and that are individualized for the person receiving support. Please gather valuable information from these vignettes, while being cautious not to over-generalize to all individuals who engage in challenging behavior.

Intervention Case Study 1:


Todd, A.W., Horner, R.H., & Sugai, G. (1999). Self-monitoring and self-recruited praise: Effects on problem behavior, academic engagement, and work completion in a typical classroom. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 66-76.

Intervention Case Study 2:


Dunlap, G. and Fox, Lise (1999). A demonstration of behavioral support for young children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 77-87.

Intervention Case Study 3:


Todd, A., Horner, R., Vanater, S., & Schneider, C. (1997). Working together to make change: An example of positive behavioral support for a student with traumatic brain injury. Education and Treatment of Children, 20, 425-440.

Intervention Case Study 4:


Dunlap, G., White, R., Vera, A., Wilson, D., & Panacek, L. (1996). The effects of multi- component, assessment-based curricular modifications on the classroom behavior of children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Behavioral Education, 6, 481-500.

Intervention Case Study 5:


Dunlap, G., & Plienis, A.J. (1991). The influence of task size on the unsupervised task performance of students with developmental disabilities. Education and Treatment of Children, 14, 85-95.

Intervention Case Study 6:


Clarke, S., Dunlap, G., & Vaughn, B. (1999). Family-centered, assessment-based intervention to improve behavior during an early morning routine. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 235-241.

Intervention Case Study 7:


Vaughn, B.J., Wilson, D., & Dunlap, G. (2002). Family-centered intervention to resolve problem behaviors in a fast food restaurant: A case example. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 38-45.

Intervention Case Study 8:


Mirenda, P., MacGregor, T., & Kelly-Keough, S. Teaching communication skills for behavioral support in the context of family life. In J. M. Lucyshyn, G. Dunlap, & R. W. Albin (Eds.), Families and positive behavior support: Addressing problem behavior in family contexts (pp.185-207). Baltimore: Brookes.

Intervention Case Study 9:


Horner, R.H., Albin, R.W., Sprague, J.R., & Todd, A.W. Positive behavior support. In M. E. Snell & F. Brown (Eds.), Instruction of students with severe disabilities (5th ed) (pp. 207-243). Upper Saddle River: NJ: Merrill.

Intervention Case Study 10:


Durand, M.V. (2004). Description of a sleep-restriction program to reduce bedtime disturbances and night waking. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6, 83-91.

Intervention Case Study 11:


Horner, R.H., Day, H.M., Sprague, J.R., O’Brien, M., & Heathfield, L.T. Interspersed requests: A nonaversive procedure for reducing aggression and self-injury during instruction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24, 265-278.

Intervention Case Study 12:


Sigafoos, J. & Meikle, B. (1996). Functional communication training for the treatment of multiply determined challenging behavior in two boys with autism. Behavior Modification, 20, 60-84.

Intervention Case Study 13:


Reichle, J., Drager, K., & Davis, C. (2002). Using requests for assistance to obtain desired items and to gain release from nonpreferred activities. Implications for assessment and intervention. Education and Treatment of Children, 25, 47-66.

Intervention Case Study 14:


Davis, C.A., & Reichle, J. (1996). Variant and invariant high-probability requests: Increasing appropriate behaviors in children with emotional-behavioral disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 29, 471-482.

Intervention Case Study 15:


Stiebel, D. (1998). Promoting augmentative communication during daily routines: A problem solving intervention. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1, 159-169.

Intervention Case Study 16:


McGee, G. & Daly, T. (1999). Prevention of problem behavior in preschool children. In A.C. Repp and R.H. Horner (Eds.), Functional analysis of problem behavior: From effective assessment to effective support (pp. 171-195). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Intervention Case Study 17:


Todd, A., Haugen, L., Anderson, K., & Spriggs, M. (2002). Teaching recess: Low cost efforts producing effective results. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 46-53.

Intervention Case Study 18:


Taylor-Greene, S., Brown, D., Nelson, L., Longton, J., Gassman, T., Cohen, J., Swartz, J., Horner, R.H., Sugai, G., & Hall, S. (1997). School-wide behavioral support: Starting the year off right. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7, 99-112.