Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Julia Ogg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Storch, Ph.D.


Appropriate behavior, undesirable behavior, children, Synthesis


Approximately 1.8% of students in the public school system have an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. These disabilities cause impairment in multiple domains of functioning. If these students also have challenging behaviors, such as noncompliance, aggression, and stereotypies, these behaviors have been found to cause impairment over and beyond those of the core symptoms associated with the disability. Challenging behaviors in youth with developmental disabilities do not typically subside on their own and need intervention. Thankfully, there are evidence-based behavioral interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities to reduce challenging behaviors and increase more functional behaviors including Applied Behavioral Analysis, Functional Behavioral Analysis, and School-Wide Positive Behavioral Support and Interventions (SWPBIS). There has been much research and positive effects found on the effectiveness of behavioral interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities, and there have been numerous meta-analyses conducted to synthesize these results. However, there have been only a few meta-analyses examining the effectiveness of school-based behavioral interventions for youth with developmental disabilities. A gap in the literature exists in understanding the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in schools from a SWPBIS perspective for youth with developmental disabilities. There also is a need to examine a wider range of dates and to examine the use of parametric statistical metrics. The current study addressed these issues by conducting a meta-analysis of single-case design studies over approximately the past 20 years to add to the current understanding of the effect of school-based behavioral interventions on behavioral outcomes of youth with developmental disabilities. Additionally, moderator analyses were conducted on numerous participant, intervention, and study characteristics that have been deemed important in the literature. The effect size of behavioral interventions on youths’ behavioral outcomes was determined through the use of a parametric statistical method, hierarchical linear modeling. The effect size was found to be large for a single case design synthesis of 3.31 and there were two moderating effects located, one being the type of classroom a participant was educated in and the other the type of specific outcome studied. The current study is important for decision makers in schools in terms of deciding on the specifics of behavioral interventions for youth with an intellectual disability. Additionally, the results of the study may be pertinent to other practitioners who work with youth is schools and their caregivers so that they can utilize school-based interventions to help increase the presentation of appropriate behaviors and reduction of challenging behaviors.