Can We Increase Educational Professionals’ Self-Efficacy to Teach the Autism Curriculum?

Saturday, May 13, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
J. Salt and K. Johnsen, HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL

As self-efficacy has been related to many positive benefits in the classroom, and related services, research has begun to look at self-efficacy effects during educator training. General self-efficacy measures appear to make little contribution. Autism specific self-efficacy measures are currently being developed and validated. The Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET; Ruble et al., 2013) holds promise and integrates well with our training model.

Our training program is a state-wide, intensive training based on structured teaching principles. The week long, interactive training provides an opportunity to receive in-vivo supervision and feedback from experienced trainers. Through lectures and hands-on construction of visual supports and materials, participants create a classroom, work with children with ASD and teach the autism curriculum. The training is open to teachers and other educational professionals (e.g. Speech, Psychology). To further study the effects of our training model, we added the ASSET measure to our evaluation protocol.


This study investigated the effectiveness of the training model to increase educational professionals competence in delivering the autism curriculum. The study addressed: (i) educator change in self-efficacy pre and post training.

(ii) the relationship of educator self-efficacy to professional experience prior to training.


All participating educational personnel (n= 62) who attended the hands on 5 day training workshop, completed the ASSET questionnaire pre and post training. ASSET is a 30-item self-report measure designed to assess ASD specific knowledge and skills. Each question is rated on a 1-100 scale.

To determine if individual variables affect self-efficacy, educators also provided information related to their educational qualifications, number of years in the profession, and experience with students with ASD.


i) T-test revealed that for the whole group, there was a significant (p<.001) increase in ASSET scores pre and post training.

ii) Baseline ASSET scores were divided by the mean score to create high and low self-efficacy groups. To determine the effect of prior experience on educator self-efficacy, data was entered in a logistic regression model with group membership (high and low self-efficacy) as the dependent variable, and lifetime number of ASD students, educational level, and years teaching as covariates. There were no significant effects of professional experience predicting self-efficacy group membership.


These results indicate the effectiveness of our training program. By attending the training, educators increased their confidence in their ability to teach the autism curriculum, at any level of ability, to individuals with ASD. Educators in both the low and high self-efficacy groups increased their scores over the training period. Furthermore, educators’ self-efficacy for autism strategies appeared to have little relationship to their prior professional experience, experience with autism or their educational level. This has important implications for training educational professionals. Even professionals who have many years teaching experience, or who have taught many students with ASD, can increase their autism teaching self-efficacy by attending an intensive training. Our follow-up study will determine if self-efficacy predicts implementation of specific strategies in the classroom following training.