The Intervention

Self-monitoring is designed to improve on-task behavior and increase classroom work completion by teaching students to recognize when they are off-task. Such interventions typically involve the student learning a monitoring system, having some sort of prompt to assess their behavior at given intervals, and reinforcing themselves for on task behavior.  

  1. Collect baseline data on the student’s work completion and on-task behavior throughout the day. This initial data collection should help to understand the times of the day or specific contexts that most require a self-monitoring intervention. The Beacon System will help you with this data collection.
  2. Decide on a self-management strategy that you feel comfortable with. This will require some type of prompt that alerts the student to monitor their behavior and a recording form that the student can use to track progress each interval.

    1. Most commonly this would include the use of a timer that vibrates or creates a very soft tone when time expires. Depending on the student’s age, baseline distractibility, and work period determine how often the timer should go off, and therefore, how frequently the student should engage in the self-monitoring.
    2. You can use the templates provided by the Beacon system to help create the tracking form. The specific items being monitored will vary based on the intervention goal. For example, the student may track the number of problems they have completed during each interval or simply record whether they were on task when the timer went off.

  3. Meet with the student to discuss your concerns about their work completion and on-task behavior and to introduce to the intervention. Try to have this be a discussion, providing opportunities for the student to ask questions and share their opinions. Review any concerns the student has about the use of the timer.
  4. Discuss a reward system with the student if appropriate. For example, the student may wish to earn a reward if they meet a goal for work completion or % of intervals on task.  External reward systems may be particularly useful for reinforcing these skills in younger children. As the student demonstrates improvement in their behavior, the goals can be made more difficult.
  5. Once the student understands the self-monitoring system, you can begin implementation. Early on, you should plan to provide the student with prompts at the start of independent seat work and praise their appropriate behavior (Nice job getting your math work out so quickly. Now would be a good time to start your timer). As the student becomes more familiar with the intervention, you can reduce the prompts and supervision of implementation.
  6. Meet with the student each day to review their self-monitoring sheet. This should serve to both check their completion of the self-monitoring record form and to discuss progress and provide reinforcement.
  7. Use Beacon progress monitoring tools to evaluate the extent to which this strategy is improving the target behaviors as intended.

  • For some students, having a timer in front of them may end up being an added distraction. Discuss expectations for having the timer with the student. If the student appears to be more distracted, this intervention may not be the best fit. Utilize the progress monitoring tools to evaluate student progress.
  • The goal of this intervention is to increase independent monitoring over time. For some students, engaging in this type of self-monitoring will be a big shift because they are used to frequent teacher prompts and reminders. At the start of the intervention, you may need to provide more guidance and prompting to ensure the student is using the self-monitoring system. Over time, these prompts can be faded.
  • It is important to provide reinforcement for appropriate behavior. This may be about the student’s use of the self-monitoring system, as well as their target behaviors (e.g., on-task, work completion). For some youth, a full reward system may be necessary. For others, simply meeting and providing verbal reinforcement will be adequate.
  • If you need help implementing or evaluating this intervention, it may be helpful to seek out consultation from your school mental health professional or intervention team leader.

Self-monitoring is rated as limited at the elementary and secondary levels.

Elementary: Research has demonstrated that self monitoring can lead to increases in on task behavior and classwork accuracy in elementary aged students.

Secondary: Research demonstrates that self-monitoring can lead to improvements in on task-behavior, out of seat behavior, interruptions, and invasions of personal space.

Recommendations: Self-monitoring may be a useful intervention for elementary students to help with on-task behavior and classwork accuracy. Similarly, this intervention may be useful to target these problems in secondary students as well as out of seat behavior, interruptions, and invasions of personal space. Although there have not been studies conducted to confirm, this intervention may be useful for all of the above presenting problems at both levels as long as the intervention is implemented in an age-appropriate manner.

Intervention Scorecard

This intervention is recommended for the following presenting problems.

Select an age group:


Other suitable presenting problems