Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Child, Family, and School Psychology

First Advisor

Gloria Miller

Second Advisor

Phillip Strain

Third Advisor

Jeanine Coleman

Fourth Advisor

Nancy Leech

Fifth Advisor

Kim Gorgens


Preschool, Challenging behavior, Intervention, Teacher training


Challenging behavior (CB) is a major barrier to service delivery in preschool classrooms. Persistent CB has been found to significantly impact children’s academic and social success long-term, especially amongst children from historically minoritized populations and those with disabilities. Numerous evidence-based intervention strategies exist to prevent and reduce CB, yet preschool teachers continue to voice a desire to increase their capacity to do so in the classroom due to high rates of CB continuing to be observed. This dissertation seeks to address this research to practice gap by ascertaining the current baseline intervention practices utilized to manage CB in preschool classrooms and identify areas for improved teacher training and coaching.

Manuscript one presents a systematic literature review of reported preschool classroom interventions for CB. Due to the multitude of manualized interventions implemented in preschool classrooms in recent years, only studies evaluating practices outside of a manualized program were included. Six studies met criteria for review, indicating a gap in the literature related to what is currently being utilized in practice, and why those practices are chosen. Across studies, high rates of CB were reported, and teachers consistently endorsed a desire to increase their training and management of CB in their classrooms. Of note, function-based interventions, which have been identified as the strongest evidence-based intervention to reduce CB, were rarely mentioned across studies, and indicated as an area for future research.

Manuscript two presents a qualitative research study of preschool teachers’ experiences managing CB in their classrooms through semi-structured interviews. All teachers were trained in the Pyramid Model, which includes specific training in implementing function-based interventions. Teachers consistently reported high rates of CB, particularly externalizing behaviors (e.g., temper tantrums, elopement, hitting) that introduced safety concerns into the classroom. Teachers described utilizing a wide variety of interventions, many of which were responsive in nature, and most often resulted in assigning an individual paraprofessional to the child in question. Teachers rarely reported completing function-based interventions, indicating confidence in completing them and the required time investment to do so as the major limiting factors. Recommendations to address these limitations are discussed.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Eleanor Bold


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


134 pgs

File Size

1.7 MB


Psychology, Early childhood education, Behavioral sciences