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Cognitive Behavioral/Instructional Strategies (CBIS)

Instruction on management or control of cognitive processes that lead to changes in behavioral, social, or academic behavior.

Evidence Based
Ages: Skip to Evidence

Steps for Implementation

1. Cognitive Components

Teachers instruct students on strategies that promote self-regulation, increase positive behavior, and reduce inappropriate behavior. This includes giving direct instruction in a specific problem-solving strategy, self-instruction, communication skills, relaxation, and situational self-awareness. Components of problem solving include:

  1. Recognition of the problem. Students are instructed in problem recognition and given opportunities to practice recognizing problem situations. Role-playing, case studies, and both real and hypothetical problems are used to help students recognize the existence of problems.
  2. Define and articulate specifics of the problem. Students are allowed to practice describing the problem, including who is involved, where the problem occurred, and what happened. Students are encouraged to view the problem from their own perspective. Question generation and task analysis of situational problems assist students in learning how to articulate problems.
  3. Develop a procedural process for solving the problem. Students are explicitly taught all steps in the problem-solving process through teacher modeling. Students are then provided ample guided practice with corrective feedback and positive reinforcement, as well as independent practice. Students learn to order the steps in a sequential process that helps lead to an appropriate solution to the problem. Role- playing, group discussion activities, and self-monitoring are effective approaches to teach the systematic process.
  4. Generate alternative strategies to approach the problem. Using a systematic procedure, students learn to generate alternative solutions through brainstorming multiple strategies for solving the problem. Students are taught to respond to the probe, “What are your possible solutions?” Because learning to generate alternatives is positively related to increasing problem-solving skills and social adjustments throughout life, generating alternatives is a crucial component of problem solving.
  5. Evaluate the consequences of each generated alternative. Students learn to identify the most effective solutions. Students are encouraged to identify the most feasible alternatives and generate possible consequences for each alternative in terms of benefits and risks. Students are encouraged to select alternatives that are safe and fair. This component provides essential practice in evaluating consequences and making appropriate future choices.
  6. Decide on a course of action and try it. Students are directed to decide upon the best alternative to resolve the problem and to try the selected alternative. Students are allowed to rehearse and implement the solution and then discuss consequences.
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the selected alternative. Students are assisted in determining if the solution worked. Students are made aware that the initial choice may not always resolve the problem and other alternatives may need to be considered.

2. Behavioral Components

The behavioral components of cognitive behavioral interventions (CBI) incorporate systematic procedures for rewarding students for the reduction of aggressive behavior and the use of problem-solving strategies. The behavioral components generally include the use of social reinforcers of praise and recognition, listening to CDs, playing computer games, token economy point systems, and behavioral contracting. Behavioral contingency contracts are most frequently used to motivate students toward desirable behavioral change. The following steps are involved in writing a contingency contract:

  1. The teacher determines and outlines the specific behaviors required of the student.
  2. Together, the teacher and student identify the reinforcement for which the student will work. The designated reinforcement should only be available to the student for performing the specified behavior.
  3. The teacher writes up the behavior contract, specifying the exact terms of the contract, including the amount and type of behavior required and the amount and frequency of the contingent reward. The contract should be fair to both the teacher and student and stated in positive terms. The contract should also state the method and frequency for data collection.
  4. The teacher meets with the student to explain the contract and ensure agreement. Both parties sign the contract.
  5. The teacher monitors for the specific behavior and rewards the student according to the terms of the contract.

Research and Outcomes

Research Summary

Age Range: 6-22

Skills: Communication, social, cognitive, school readiness, academic/pre-academic, adaptive/self-help, challenging/interfering behavior, mental health, self-determination

Settings: Home, school, community

Evidence Rating: Evidence Based

The information found in the Research Summary table is updated following a literature review of new research and these ages, skills, and settings reflects information from this review.

Outcomes Matrix

The Outcomes Matrix shows outcome areas by age for which this evidence based practice is effective
Age: 0-5 6-14 15-22
Academic/Pre-academic Yes Yes
Challenging/Interfering Behavior Yes Yes
Cognitive Yes
Communication Yes Yes
Joint Attention
Mental Health Yes Yes
School Readiness Yes Yes
Self-determination Yes
Social Yes Yes
More about Intervention Outcomes

Cognitive Behavioral/Instructional Strategy (CBIS) interventions are based on the belief that learning and behavior are mediated by cognitive processes. Learners are taught to examine their own thoughts and emotions and then use step-by-step strategies to change their thinking, behavior, and self-awareness. These interventions can be used with learners who display problem behavior related to specific emotions or feelings, such as anger or anxiety (e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). These interventions can also be used to support learners in acquiring social and academic skills through explicit learning strategy instruction. CBIS interventions are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including modeling, visual supports, prompting, reinforcement, social narratives, peer-based instruction and interventions and parent-implemented interventions (Steinbrenner, et al., 2020).