Children with psychiatric disorders are at risk for experiencing poor psychosocial, emotional, and behavioral adjustment after leaving school (Heijmens Visser, Van der Ende, Koot, & Verhulst, 2003; Wielemaker, 2009). These children thus need a good educational environment in order to optimally develop despite their impairments. Yet, some of these children have such complex special educational needs that they are placed in settings for special education. Especially these children could benefit from education that also targets their social, emotional, and behavioral skills in an educational environment that is adapted to their needs. Research has consistently shown that children’s social, emotional, and behavioral classroom adjustment is affected by the dynamic and reciprocal interplay between the child and his or her teacher and between the child and his or her peers (Pianta, Hamre, & Stuhlman, 2003; Gifford-Smith & Brownell, 2003). However, most of this research has been conducted in general education and not much is known about the social dynamics in special education. However, such information can contribute to improving the special educational environment. This thesis therefore focuses on the social classroom dynamics (i.e., the interplay between children, their teachers, and their peers) that are part of the environment shaping the classroom adjustment of children with psychiatric disorders in special education. In addition, to help improve the educational quality in special education settings, we implemented and examined the effects of an intervention, The Good Behavior Game, on children’s classroom adjustment, social classroom relationships, and teachers’ sense of competence and wellbeing. To give the reader a general introduction on the important topics of this thesis, this introduction starts with a discussion of special education from an international and national perspective. Next, the importance of positive teacher-child and peer relationships for children’s classroom adjustment is discussed. Subsequently, a short introduction to the Good Behavior Game is given, followed by an overview of the design of the study. Finally, the research questions of this thesis are introduced together with an outline of the different chapters.

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F.C. Verhulst (Frank) , P.A.C. van Lier (Pol) , T. Wubbels
Erasmus University Rotterdam
This research was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), project number 15700.3011.
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Breeman, L. (2015, March 26). A Special Need for Others. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/77867