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Application of the Choice Maker Curriculum for Teaching Self-Determination Skills to Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities in a Private Day Setting Open Access

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Self determination skills enable individuals to advocate for their needs, make decisions, and improve their ability to function independently in the world (Jones 2006). Students who receive special education services are not always part of the decision making process concerning their own progress. Under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, special education services end at age twenty-one along with the safety net they provide, the importance of explicit teaching of self determination skills cannot be overstated. This study identified a curriculum that would aide students with emotional, behavioral disabilities (EBD) in a private day setting developing and or enhancing their self determination skills in an effort to improve their ability to function independently. The purpose of the study was to determine if the "ChoiceMaker" Curriculum is a viable product to use with students who have EBD to improve their ability to set and attain goals. The students in the study were educated in a private separate day school in a self-contained classroom. Using self-determination theory and the construct of quality of life as the lens, the study examined the student's ability to develop and utilize self-determination skills with and without instruction. The study used a single subject multiple baseline design to track the students progress through out the intervention with a partial withdraw method. The cohort comprised of six students, three male and three female students who were interviewed, observed and then provided an intervention through the "ChoiceMaker" Curriculum to target self-determination skills through goal setting and attainment. The students set and tracked Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals each week over a thirteen week period. The expected outcome of this research was to: (a) promote student involvement in setting, achieving, and mastering goals set by the educational team; and (b) serve as the basis for future study of self-determination.The study yielded favorable results demonstrating that "ChoiceMaker" is an effective tool to use with EBD students in a private separate day setting, illustrating the need for further research in: students with dual labels including EBD and learning disabled, and students with EBD and a low IQ.

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