miércoles, 9 de marzo de 2011

On-task behavior within SIOP Model in college students

On-task behavior within SIOP Model in college students

Daniel Pardo Vásquez


Throughout this paper, the sheltered instruction observation protocol (SIOP) is analyzed and described, focusing on on-task behaviour of first semester students at Universidad Colombo Americana (UNICA). This SIOP Model is an approach designed to teach second language. It includes academic content and controls all the aspects of pedagogy, including behavior. The use of this model has been successful in schools in the United States and Japan. However, the study of behaviour management within this model has not been studied enough. That is why the analysis and study of this approach in the area of behaviour is important to determine the efficiency of this Model and how it works, especially in a college setting.


Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (better known as the SIOP model) is an approach to help students learn academic material and a second language at the same time. Books, articles, and research studies referring to this model affirm the effectiveness and success it has had in foreign countries. However, there is not enough information showing how this methodology works in settings where the mother tongue is spoken. There are no research studies addressing how SIOP controls and manages on-task behavior issues in class. Thus, I have a strong interest in knowing whether this teaching model limits itself to academic issues or also addresses behavioral issues.
As a method, the SIOP model has been applied in schools with significant, positive results, (Echevarria, 2000). At UNICA University, this model is being applied at a college level. Although the results of valuable research studies are not public yet, based on my own experience as a student and as a student-teacher, I can assert that it has a favorable impact on the quality of the education offered there. However, the research done until now regarding on-task behavior has been limited.
My interest in describing and analyzing this method may support other future studies, but at this point in another area of pedagogy that is as important as the academic field: behaviorism. I strongly believe that first semester is a good starting point, due to the transition that students have to face changing from a school to a college settings. This transition is a strong change in their lives. At a college level, rules, procedures, and thought processes are extremely modified as the structure of learning becomes more flexible and permissive. That is why this study is focused on students in this educational setting.
Hopefully, my research can help form a better idea of how SIOP model can not only help students academically and linguistically, but also as a tool to manage, control, and improve on-task behavior in class. Through the description of the management of this approach in the field of behavior, this research study expects to contribute other future studies within the SIOP model but in a different context and with a different type of population.

Area of focus statement

The purpose of this study is to understand and describe various strategies applied in the SIOP Model in order to improve attendance, misbehavior, and work accomplishment.

Research Questions

a. How does SIOP Model manage students’ behavior in class?
b. How does SIOP Model control and encourage students’ attendance?
c. How does SIOP Model help students efficiently accomplish their work?
d. Does the SIOP model influence attendance?

Theoretical framework

As the number of English learners increases in ESL schools throughout the United States, a group of researchers and educators, looked for effective ways to help students succeed in academic settings as they are becoming bilingual. After systematic observation, the SIOP model developed as the result of the work of Jana Echevarria, MaryEllen Vogt and Deborah J. Short. The model was implemented in different schools where immigrants are considerable in number.
This model supports teachers in planning and delivering classes that promote students’ second language development, while making school subjects comprehensible for students of other languages. (Echevarria, 2000)

The SIOP Model includes eight correlated components:
Lesson preparation: Concerns what teachers have to take into account when preparing lessons [such as clearly defining content objectives for students, clearly defining language objectives for students, content concepts appropriate for age and educational background, supplementary materials designing a clear and meaningful lesson (e.g., graphs, models, visuals), and adaptation of content (e.g., text, assignments for all levels of student proficiency). Meaningful activities that integrate lesson concepts should also be included (e.g., surveys, letter writing, simulations, and constructing models) with language practice opportunities for reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking. (Echevarria, 2000)
Building Background: Here, teachers need to consider what concepts should explicitly be linked to students' background experiences, links explicitly made between past learning experiences and new concepts, where key vocabulary should be emphasized (e.g., introduced, written, repeated, and highlighted for students to see). (Echevarria, 2000)
Comprehensible Input: Here, teachers learn what kind of appropriate speech to use properly for students‘ proficiency level (e.g., slower rate, careful enunciation, and simple sentence structure for beginners). The teacher must present a clear explanation of the academic task, and a variety of techniques should be used to make content concepts clear (e.g., modeling, visuals, hands-on activities, demonstrations, gestures, body language). (Echevarria, 2000)

Strategies: There should be ample opportunities for students to use strategies and consistent use of scaffolding techniques (incrementing the difficulty of the task step by step) throughout the lesson, thus assisting and supporting student understanding. A variety of question types should be used, including those that promote higher-order thinking skills throughout the lesson (e.g., literal, analytic, and interpretive questions). (Echevarria, 2000)
Interaction: Here, teachers should offer frequent opportunities for interaction and/or discussion between teacher/student and among students with the purpose of encouraging elaborate responses on lesson concepts. Grouping supports language and content objectives of the lesson. A sufficient “wait time” for student response should be allowed, and ample opportunities for students to clarify key concepts in L1 (as needed with aide, peer, or L1 text) (Echevarria, 2000).
Practice/Application: Teachers should think of hands-on materials and/or other resources for students to practice using new content knowledge, activities for students to apply content and language knowledge in the classroom. Finally activities that integrate all language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) should be planned (Echevarria, 2000).
Lesson Delivery: Teachers need to identify content objectives clearly supported by lesson delivery and language objectives. Also, students should be engaged approximately 90-100% of the period and the pacing of the lesson should be appropriate for the students’ ability level (Echevarria, 2000).

Review/Assessment: Here, teachers must provide comprehensive review of key vocabulary, comprehensive review of key content concepts, and regular feedback to students on their output. To end the lesson, teachers must assess student comprehension and learning of all lesson objectives. (e.g., spot checking, group response) (Echevarria, 2000).
In the classrooms, many "behavior problems" are often the result of the lack of understanding by the students in relation to what they are supposed to do. (Echevarria, et al., 2000. p. 67). The techniques the SIOP promotes provide meaningful lessons for students learning English and content areas, including adapting the content to students' proficiency levels; highlighting key vocabulary; using scaffolding techniques and providing opportunities for students to use their own strategies; and providing activities that allow students to apply newly acquired content and language knowledge. (Echevarria, et al., 2000. p. 70). Besides, the use of these eight SIOP components mentioned above allows teachers to design and deliver lessons that address the academic and linguistic requirements of English learners keeping in mind that students must not only English vocabulary and grammar but also the English used in core content classes (Echevarria, et al., 2000. p. 8).

In addition, effective classes within the SIOP are characterized by a variety of grouping structures such as individual work, peers, triads, small groups, cooperative learning groups, and the whole-group. Groups also vary according to language proficiency, language background, and/or ability (Echevarria, et al., 2000. p. 104). The variety of groups helps to maintain students' interest and varying group structures increases the chance that a student's preferred mode of instruction will be matched (Echevarria, et al., 2000. p. 104).

Review of Related Literature

There are many controversial points of view regarding discipline. Based on my experience observing classes at some schools and at a college, I have noticed the discord among teachers and students as to whether on-task behavior is directly related to academic proficiency. Some teachers assert that on-task behavior is strongly related to students’ academic development, and this way teacher can control and manage behavior through on-task progression. However, on the other hand, students and a few teachers do not agree. They see on-task behavior and academic proficiency as unrelated elements. Therefore, to discern what is true, it is necessary to analyze disciplinary practices to determine if these help teachers control students’ behavior in class or, on the contrary natural class flow is enough to manage and control any kind of on-task behavior.
In order to create an ideal environment for learning, it is essential for institutions to provide rules and clear bylaws that may be regulated. The majority of the reports, reviews and studies through this literature review support five practices that have been studied for a long time in different educational centers of The United State and European countries, such as England, France, and Germany. The practices will serve as parameters to support this research study. Punishment, supporting stimulus, reconciliation, socio-cultural understanding enhancement, and classroom control are the variables that serve as reference. If SIOP is utilized, but is not accompanied by these practices, is it enough to control and manage on-task behavior, or, on the contrary, is their application necessary?

Disciplinary Practices:


Cotton and Savard (1982) have thought that punishment can be a good method of remediating misbehavior at an individual level, improving conduct in the classroom, as long as this is established ahead of time and it does not include acts such as physical punishment, insults or anything that goes against to the rights of the student (Allen, 1981; Cotton and Savard, 1982; Doyle, 1989; and Miller, 1986). A good example of this is suspension. The programs of suspension that include guides, support, planning change, and opportunities to create new skills have demonstrated to be effective regarding the improvement of students’ behavior. Nevertheless, the punishments are often applied incorrectly. In these cases, they have the opposite effect. However, with SIOP this type of control is apparently unnecessary because students are involved in a variety of scaffolding and dynamic activities that are of their interest, thus avoiding misbehavior.
To solve the problem regarding incorrect application of punishment, a disciplinary system called Assertive Discipline, developed by Lee and Marlene Canter (1976) was developed. This system helps students to understand the consequences of their behavior; "As its basic premise the reinforcement of appropriate behavior" (Render, Padilla, and Krank, 1989, p. 609).This disciplinary approach is a good tool in order to use punishment in a suitable way. Thus, the next requirement of assertive discipline is followed: corrective action, when rules are broken.
Additionally, to facilitate the use of Assertive Discipline, punishment consequences should be established for classroom management to be assertive, for instance, a method of rewards and punishments are devised by the teacher to let students know when they have performed correctly or incorrectly. Moreover, more severe penalties should be given to students who keep making unacceptable choices.

Supporting stimulus

Miller (1986) asserts that students frequently need motivation to improve their behavior as well as a guide on how to do this. The key to “Assertive Discipline” is that there should be positive reinforcements from the teacher, including lots of praise (Canter, 1988). According to Hitz and in contrast to Canter, these extrinsic motivations should be just a small part of the teacher’s strategy, not the center of the class (Hitz, 1988). For example, when a teacher tends to give lots of praise to the students depending on their behavior, the pupils will behave well because of the reward and not because they understand the importance and the consequence of their actions. That is why sometimes teachers prefer not to use this practice in normal conditions. This is usually applied when misbehavior problems persist (Crockenberg, 1982).
Students need a guide to know how to perform according to what the norm establishes or what the teacher expects. Canter (1988) states that the rules should be observable and concise, i.e., a specific rule for specific actions that everybody in the classroom can understand through examples provided by the teacher. In this way, students are sure about what they can or cannot do. In SIOP, the same practice is seen as a behavior control. Students and teachers clearly know what to do or what is expected from the class through exemplification of every activity and the statement of content and language objectives (Lesson Delivery, Comprehensible input).


Brophy (1983) says that centers of conciliation (points where both parts, teacher and students, agree in mutual solutions) are required for students with unacceptable behavior. These students have difficulties understanding the rules or interpreting them in the right way. Many positive results have been achieved in schools where this practice has been used. Students learn their limits efficiently and assume their responsibility seeing or analyzing the consequences in a more individualized and specific manner with the help of a tutor or a guide. This teacher is in contact with the homeroom teacher and the student, monitoring the process change.

Most of the time, when a child has trouble following teacher’s instructions or classroom norms, it is because the child misunderstands what these rules mean. In these cases, moments of conciliation, through a tutor, personalize the teaching of this set of laws. For example, when a child is used to hitting his classmates, it is because possibly at home, he has been educated in this way. At school, these actions are not allowed, but the student does not consciously understand why this norm exists if at home it is a normal act. In these cases, the application of reconciliation practice is recommended. Within the SIOP model this issue is not mentioned, but I hope to find out evidence of its use after my study.

Socio-cultural understanding enhancement

Fillmore (1991) explains how teaching and learning are social, not individual activities. Socio-cultural understanding enhancement takes place when students from different backgrounds and experts (teachers or other students) work together to solve a common problem. In this practice, the roles of student and teacher are more permeable and flexible than in traditional classes because both work at the same level of hierarchy. Thus, nobody knows more than the other, but everyone comes up with valuable ideas focused on one purpose.

This purpose is a joint productive activity. Joint refers to who participates and how; while productive refers to what the objective is and the cause for working as a group, and activity refers to what the participants are doing in collaboration. This kind of activity may help to improve understanding of the school rules because the community participated in creating them.

Other examples of socio-cultural enhancements are agreements of contingency (Allen, 1981; Cotton and Savard, 1982) and the approach of organizational development (Gottfredson, 1989). Agreements of contingency are established with the participation of the students’ spokesmen. Through this participation, the consequences which students would face in case they break an agreement become clear. This practice helps to understand why rules are necessary and why everybody should follow them. Additionally, the approach of organizational development has, as its main component, institutional reforms towards disciplinary improvement. The participation of students, professors and educational administrators with the same intensity and with no hierarchy has contributed meaningfully to understanding and creating better disciplinary policies. The SIOP model is used in ESL schools in the United States as a tool for socio-cultural understanding (Echevarria, 2000). This socio-cultural aspect is the most related practice to the SIOP with concern to behavior control and management because in both (SIOP and the practice described above) the agreement and the mutual participation of both parts (teachers and students) plays an important role when establishing the rules for a class without behavior problems.

Classroom control

Glasser (1984) suggests that the practice of classroom control is frequently carried out by discipline and academic coordinators along with teachers in order to ensure the quality of the learning process and student’s well-being. Glasser (1984) also relates discipline to classroom control. “In schools, the most widely and practiced interpretation of the word discipline is control" (Wlodkowski 1982, p. 2.). Glasser (1984) complementarily says children need to be taught how to control their behavior. People read the world in different ways. These perceptions are based on their needs and how these are fulfilled. "Most people, however, do not believe they have a choice" (Glasser, 1989, p. 2.). The cause is that they were not taught how to make choices. Thus, teachers are directly responsible for teaching students how they should choose and act. "The teacher's task is to help students make good choices by making clear the connection between student behavior and its consequences" (Emmer, 1986, p. 7.).

Through this practice, the teacher shows the student the consequences of his/her actions and helps him/her to identify inappropriate behavior. This exercise should be done by the student and not by the teacher for it to be more meaningful. Then the student is encouraged to design a plan to change his/her misbehavior. Here, the teacher helps the student to carry out the plan. Otherwise, he will have to face the consequence (Edwards, 1993). Edwards (1993) and Emmer (1986) report that all of the studies using classroom management that assessed effects on student variables showed at least one student change that differed significantly for the E [Experimental] and C [Control] groups. This application is strongly related to the seven SIOP components, especially “Lesson Delivery”, because in this part of SIOP, the teacher applies his/her skill all their own skills and experience in controlling the class both academically and behaviorally.

Most educators see misbehavior as the number one problem in public schools (Wlodkowski, 1982). This is the process of understanding and internalizing a set of rules, norms and agreements previously established between all members involved. The understanding of these rules would be reflected in the actions of individuals that follows them. Although on-task behavior is expected from every student; students, teachers, and educational administrators have different viewpoints with regard to what this entails. A harmonic environment with expectations of discipline should be clarified and established before starting any activity in a group. Many problems in a classroom are attributed to the misbehavior of students. Thus, the topic of discipline is very complex and polemic and needs many studies in order to apply efficient policies that can help solve the conflicts that result from disciplinary motives. Yet, the question is if on-task behavior can be used to control and properly manage classrooms within the SIOP model.

Data Collection

Qualitative data collection techniques were used as the primary research methods for this study. Most of the time, the author of this paper is an active observer because he is the student-teacher. However, in some opportunities, he is a passive observer because his participation is not required. However, many times he teaches classes using all the components of the SIOP Model. In addition, he uses surveys at the end of his observation for students and teachers and interviews for teachers.

Data Sources

Surveys: 24 students and 5 teachers filled out a survey designed independently to provide insights regarding their thoughts about the classes procedure and the management of on-task behaviour. The results of the survey aim to know if students are pleased with the class in terms of behavior and methods applied.
• Interviews: 6 teachers who use the SIOP model are part of these interviews in order to provide valuable insights that can help me support my evidence in my observations.
• Observation and field notes: They are taken to keep record of all events, to describe and analyze each activity, and to provide me with more variables for the surveys and interviews.
• Journal: Its purpose is that my perceptions of the activities and personal conclusions are recorded for later analysis. This is important when analyzing all the data because it may help me understand certain aspects that other sources cannot answer.
• Attendance record: It provides quantitative information that measures one of my research questions: improvement in attendance

Data analysis and interpretation

The next triangulation matrix states what kind of sources was used to answer each of the research questions. It is important to highlight that in order to answer each question, it was necessary to use at least four sources as the following chart displays below.

The following results are organized according to the analysis of each component of the SIOP, the practices used to apply in classrooms to control behavior, and the evidence that was found through data sources.
In the surveys, students and teachers who have a clear idea about the SIOP assert that the relationship between the application of the SIOP and work accomplishment and behavior is strong. All the students answered that with this approach, the class, in general, works more efficiently. The misbehavior showed in other classes decreases considerably in the two classes where the SIOP is applied. However, the evidence presented here regarding attendance is not enough to confirm whether the SIOP improves it or not.

Only 15 out of 24 students surveyed had a clear idea of what the SIOP model is about. Those 15 students were the ones who were taken into consideration for the survey. The next chart shows students` and teachers` agreement about the effectiveness of the class implementing the SIOP model.

In addition, students state that they feel more secure through clear instructions, clear objectives, and scaffolding activities full of examples. The surveyed students coincide in saying that they feel better accomplishing their work and feel the results have a higher quality. Regarding behavior, students realize there is a change compared to other classes because they clearly know what to do and what is the objective of the lesson. Also, misbehavior is rarely a problem due to the activities’ time limit. Students are involved in these activities and there is no time to do other things.
In the interviews, teachers emphasize that through the use of the SIOP, they have improved their lesson thanks to the eight components that help teachers reduce all kind of behaviors than interrupt the class. Teachers within the SIOP have found a reduction of misbehavior through the use of the whole approach. They believe that by using the SIOP, students know what to do and where the class is leading. In this way, students feel involved in the class procedure and leave distracting actions aside. Also, referring to work accomplishment, most of the surveyed teachers state that it is not an issue the SIOP should be in charge of, but it is something that the teacher and students previously agree.

Surveyed teachers agree on four points. First, using effectively “Lesson Delivery” students feel more comfortable and sure about what they have to do and hand in at the end of class. Also, students identifying the objectives can carry out their work easily and more creatively because they know what goals they have to achieve. Second, planning their classes while taking into account the needs of the class and students and keeping in mind the elements that are part of the “Lesson Preparation”, teachers emphasize that the class is enough to avoid task behavior problems because students are led towards the topic and have no time for actions out of the class tasks. Third, efficiently using the “Building Background” component, helps students realize that the objectives are meaningful and sufficiently relevant to motivate and engage active participation. When students are motivated, interruptions are reduced and students behave properly and accomplish their responsibilities.

Fourth, when using “Practice/application” component, teachers affirm they can control misbehavior in class by using a variety of materials and activities within a limited amount of time ensure the attention of students; diminishing distractions; monitoring the work and behavior of students.

Lastly, in the observations, journal, and field notes I could identify the teachers’ point of view. In behavior, I see a huge change between the first classes I taught at the beginning of my practicum and the ones I taught later within the SIOP model. Students seemed more encouraged with the class and with the topic. Also, I had identified a group of problematic students that interrupted class and had behaviors that distracted their partners, for example, standing up several times and talking to others about other subjects. Yet, by using SIOP these actions decreased because this group was meaningfully involved in activities and class procedures.

Concerning work accomplishment, I observed substantial changes as well. When the teacher asks students for a product after the objectives have been explained, the quality of this product and the creativity shown are really outstanding, compared with the first classes. However, when these products are complemented at home, the results varied and I cannot find strong evidence to confirm that students achieved the objectives.
Lastly, referring to attendance, I cannot provide any evidence that proves the efficiency of the SIOP controlling or improving the attendance of the students analyzed in this study. Nevertheless, I noticed that students that were absent several times had different motives which were not related to the method of the class. In the surveys, interviews, journal, and attendance record, less than half of the students provided positive information referring to the connection between the SIOP model and the attendance control.


After analyzing the data, I conclude that two factors are managed and controlled efficiently within the SIOP model, behavior and accomplishment of work. The data collected from the students, teachers, and my own intervention are enough to assert that using the whole SIOP approach helps to improve, control, and manage behavior without the use of additional practices used in most educational settings. By using SIOP, teachers do not have to spend time of their classes in addressing behavior problems.
However, no evidence related to the improvement or management of students’ attendance was found. The data gathered does not point to a specific conclusion or direction so in relation to this variable, this research study does not determine anything in this regard.

Action Plan

Based on the results and findings emerged from this study, the following changes will be made:
• I will apply this research study in different setting, not only at a college level, but at a high and primary school in order to see if the results change, especially the variable that I could not find strong evidence -attendance improvement.
• I will show this research study to teachers that are not working with the SIOP model, in order to make them realize how this approach works not only in academic but also in behavioral areas.
• I will provide this document to future student teachers that need help in the area of on-task behavior.


In conclusion, this study shows that the application of the SIOP model, including the eight components, is enough to control and manage on-task behavior without the need to apply the most common practices used to regulate behavioral issues in formal education. According to Emmer (1986) and Glasser (1989) who assert in their studies that teaching and controlling behavior in class, using disciplinary techniques, are necessary. This study has shown that keeping students busy through scaffolding activities planned carefully within the SIOP model is more than enough to avoid any kind of misbehavior, at least at a college level.

Final thoughts

The students chosen for this study are facing the transition between school and college. I strongly believe that this study can be carried out at different levels of formal education. Starting at the elementary school level, the effective use of the SIOP model can bring results that help teachers expand and enrich their classes and at the same time control and positively manage on task behavior in class. Finally, the time used for this study (5 months) is enough to find evidence and arrive at results to conclude that this approach is an excellent tool to control disciplinary actions.


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