Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Jaci Urbani, PhD


Though extensive studies exist regarding teaching life skills at the middle school and high school level in special education to support students’ transition to adulthood, a comparable amount of research is still needed to examine the use of life skills-based programs in elementary special education programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate how a six-week intervention using research-based practices targeting specific life skills impacted 2nd - 5th grade students with moderate to severe disabilities. This study involved a group of 7 students with varying disabilities and behavioral challenges, using video and peer modeling to enhance specific life skills twice a week, over a six-week period. The skill areas that were targeted included: hygiene (handwashing), social skills (appropriate greetings) and money skills (collecting money). The life skills were practiced during a weekly coffee cart activity that the class had started a year prior. During the coffee cart activity, the students practiced proper hygiene, learned how to make coffee, collected orders, and delivered coffee to staff within the school community. This research used a mixed methods approach, utilizing multiple data forms, including classroom observations during life skills instruction and interviews with teachers and parents. The findings demonstrate that the use of video and peer modeling to teach specific life skills is valuable to special education students. In addition, the results of the study show there are many barriers special education teachers face that deter them from implementing life-skills based programs including the lack of life skills standards and curriculum readily available.