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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Self-Management - Topic 27

What is it?

Teaching students self-management skills means teaching students to be in control of his or her own behavior. When a student has learned to self-manage, the student is reinforced intrinsically (self-directed) rather than externally (teacher/adult directed). Self-management requires the development of clear routines in which students can anticipate when he or she will receive behavior-related feedback. When a student has developed self-management skills he or she has learned to self-reinforce desired behavior by using self-praise or delivering a self-provided tangible reinforcer.

The four essential components of self-management are self-monitoring, self-instruction, self-evaluation/assessment, and self-reinforcement. The chart below provides more detailed information regarding the four major components of self-management (See Jolivette et al., 2013).

Why is it important?

There have been many important benefits identified in teaching students self-management including (a) improved maintenance of newly acquired positive behaviors, (b) freeing-up teacher time and resources to attend to other issues, (c) building student independence, and (d) enhanced perception of responsibility and ownership over one’s own behavior and choices (Jolivette et al., 2013).


Fitzpatrick, M. & Knowlton, E. (2009). Bringing evidence-based self-directed intervention practices

to the trenches for students with emotional and beahvioral disorders. Preventing School

Failure. 53(4), 253-266.

Jolivette, K., Alter, P., Scott, T. M., Josephs, N. L., & Swoszowski, N. C. (2013). Strategies to

prevent problem behavior. In Cook, B.G., & Tankersly, M. (Eds.), Research-Based Practices in

Special Education. (pp. 149-152). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. [Hardcover. ISBN:0-13-702-876-8.]

Web Links

Teaching Self Management Skills (University of Kansas)

Major Component

In collaboration with his or her teacher, a student must…


Acknowledge whether the target behavior occurred and record the occurrence or nonoccurrence of the behavior.


Identify the problem, attend to the situation, and work through the plan.


Conduct a performance assessment, set observable and realistic goals, develop a schedule for data collection and evaluation, and compare student performance to the goal that was set.


Identify effective reinforcers, set up a schedule of reinforcement, and decide on rules for reinforcement.  

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