Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) Tools to Enhance Success in School for Secondary Students with Special Needs

Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) Tools to Enhance Success in School for Secondary Students with Special Needs

Katherine Mitchem (California University of Pennsylvania, USA), Gail Fitzgerald (University of Missouri, USA) and Kevin Koury (California University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-120-9.ch034
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This chapter introduces the use of electronic performance support systems (EPSS) as an assistive technology for students with mild disabilities, especially those with special learning and behavioral needs. This approach is a new development to use technology to support students in educational environments. In this chapter, the authors describe the need, rationale and technical development process of an electronic performance support system (EPSS), StrategyTools, a software program designed to support the successful integration of secondary students with mild disabilities in inclusive classrooms. In addition, they report the results from two federally funded projects related to research-based social and behavioral outcomes for secondary students and discuss recommendations for implementation of EPSS tool approaches. The authors hope this information on the innovative use of EPSS to support students with mild disabilities will improve success at school through the innovative use of technology.
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Review Of Relevant Literature

Computer-based training and support mechanisms are an innovative approach for helping children/youth gain control over personal behaviors. Although there are limited data on the use of computer-based instruction to support behavior change in children, research results are promising. Fitzgerald and Werner (1996) reported success with a computerized verbal mediation essay as a cognitive retraining procedure to assist a student with significant behavioral disorders in changing his behavior. In this case study utilizing a single subject research design, the computerized essay provided consistent practice and focused the child’s attention and thoughts on behavioral choices and consequences. In another case study, the same researchers reported a procedure in which software templates were developed for a student to create self-monitoring materials to guide his behaviors (Fitzgerald & Werner, 1996).

In a recent study with high school students, Hartley (2001) found students could learn strategies from hypermedia computer programs, but learning of these strategies did not impact performance. Hartley hypothesized that better outcomes might occur if instruction in learning strategies was integrated with opportunities to utilize the strategies in realistic settings. His conclusion with secondary students, that the use of strategies ultimately depends on the decision for usage, lends support to the EPSS approach by providing the tools to support strategy use, thus building self-responsibility for the student’s performance.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assistive Technology: Any item used to increase or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

Self-Regulation: The ability to set goals, self-monitor use of goals, and self-evaluate.

Students with Mild Disabilities: Students who have mild learning or behavioral disabilities that impact their educational performance and require specially designed instruction.

Cognitive Behavioral Modification: Process that integrates cognitive restructuring with behavior modification to support change of a dysfunctional pattern of behavior.

Electronic Performance Support Systems: Tools that include information, user guidance, procedural tools, and feedback.

Learning Strategies: Techniques that facilitate the acquisition, integration, manipulation, and retrieval of information across situations and settings.

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