Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


Social skills are a central part of educational development. Students develop social skills through peer interaction, modeling, role-playing, sports, and games. Social skills are not always directly taught to students although many teachers would agree that students often lack appropriate social skills. Finding ways to increase students' appropriate social skills is a challenge for special education and general education teachers alike. Significant research has been done in the special education population because a common characteristic of students with disabilities is a deficit in social development. This research project, through literature review and active application, explores educational methods to provide special education students with a variety of social skills activities in an effort to improve their social competencies. It specifically examines what impact the use of direct instruction has in teaching the skills necessary for the social development of adolescent students with disabilities. In order to create this study, participants’ Individualized Education Programs, the New York State Learning Standards and Alternate Performance Indicators, researcher observations, and input from parents and school therapists was incorporated. Integration of various social skills activities coincided with daily classroom routines and the weekly schedule during this four week study. These activities captured a variety of learning styles to assist student’s mastery of lesson objectives. Activities were adapted to meet each student's individual developmental level. Research data gathered included pre and post-tests assessments, parent feedback, and anecdotal observations by the researcher. Assessments were administered to note any increased social ability and to determine the effectiveness of the social skills activities utilized. Research conclusions support the concept of direct instruction to teach and increase social skill development. Additionally, an increase was noted in students’ independence toward attaining their social development goals.


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