Students with emotional-behavioral disorders (EBDs) often learn in alternative classroom settings to provide more intensive instruction that meets their educational needs. Although research has demonstrated promise for several behavior intervention practices in general education settings, the generalizability of these practices to more restricted environments is unknown. Thus, this meta-analysis aimed to examine the class-wide behavior interventions tested in self-contained learning environments for students with EBDs. Studies investigating behavioral interventions in alternative elementary settings were systematically screened. Fifteen studies with 20 effect sizes met inclusion criteria and results from each study were synthesized. An estimated average effect was calculated (g = 0.93, SE = 0.16), demonstrating that tested interventions are typically effective in self-contained learning environments to improve student behaviors. A thematic analysis and multi-level meta-regression were conducted to determine which elements are most beneficial to students in these unique learning environments. Results indicated that interventions that included relational supports, such as daily parent communication, differentially benefited students (B = 1.26, SE = 0.15). Limitations include the small number of studies meeting inclusion criteria that have investigated behavior interventions in self-contained settings and the need for improved research quality. Implications suggest support for adapting standardized practice elements, such as group contingencies, to improve student behaviors in multiple learning environments.
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