Evaluation of a Peer Education Program about Autism Spectrum Disorder for Elementary School Students
Objectives: Investigators evaluated the impact of the KfK program on elementary school students’ knowledge of ASD and attitudes towards an unfamiliar student. Our two research questions were: (a) Does the KfK program increase elementary school students’ knowledge of ASD? and (b) Does the KfK program increase elementary school students’ attitudes towards an unfamiliar student with ASD?
Methods: A total of 107 4th and 5thgrade students were randomly assigned to receive the KfK program or not prior to viewing a videotape of a student with ASD. Students completed two measures after viewing the videotape: (a) Knowledge of Autism (KOA; 16 items, = .55), a general measure of knowledge of ASD; and (b) a modified version of the Children’s Attitudes towards Children with Handicaps (CATCH-A; 36 items; = .93), a measure of attitudes about the student with ASD. One week later, controls received the KfK program and completed measures about the videotaped student while treatment participants completed measures about the student a second time.
Results: Two, 2 (Time) by 2 (Condition) mixed-model ANOVAs revealed significant time by condition interactions for knowledge, F(1, 99) = 19.28, p < .001, = .16, and attitudes, F(1, 90) = 8.62, p < .01, = .09. The treatment group reported higher knowledge than control group immediately after intervention, t(103) = 2.65, p < .01. The control group reported more knowledge after receiving the intervention, t(53) = 5.17, p < .001. Attitudes did not differ between groups immediately after the intervention (i.e., at Time 1); however, the control group reported more favorable attitudes after receiving the intervention, t(46) = 2.11, p < .05. Treatment group attitudes declined from intervention to follow-up, t(44) = -2.04, p< .05.
Conclusions: The KfK program resulted in increased knowledge of ASD for elementary school students. The KfK program resulted in improved attitudes over time; however, attitudes declined over a one-week period. The KfK results in improved knowledge and attitudes in an analogue experimental design; future evaluation should consist of testing the materials with actual students with ASD included in elementary school classrooms.