Increasing Engagement with Neurodiverse Learners

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Byron, Michelle Ross
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This professional development study was undertaken to expand my learning around how to best engage neurodiverse learners that refuse tasks in the classroom. Low task completion and excessive demands for teacher attention commonly characterize reluctant learners. (Abramowitz & O'Leary, 1991). Task refusals can lead to aggressive behaviors such as shouting, hitting, and eloping. The student's behaviors can then become the focus of time spent in the classroom while their learning becomes secondary. In the literature, I examined different approaches to motivating behavior. Through my research, I discovered that extrinsic motivation and ABA therapy appeared often in the literature as an intervention for neurodiverse learners and were deemed to be the gold-standard by the Center for Disease Control (Center for Disease Control, 2022). I also examined Self-Determination Theory and intrinsic motivation and a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic approaches. My findings showed extrinsic motivation was not always successful as a singular approach, and that a combination of extrinsic motivation combined with an environment that supported intrinsic motivation was most beneficial to the student. My research also found that before employing motivational interventions, a keen understanding of the student and a trusting relationship between student and teacher needed to be established. Only then was a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivational interventions most effective.
extrinsic motivation , intrinsic motivation , task refusal , behavior , neurodiverse , autism , engagement
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