Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Materials (AFIRM): Supporting Teachers Use of Ebps
There is a national need for preparing teachers and other educational staff to implement evidence-based practices (EBP) with students with ASD. A report from the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) details 27 evidence-based practices, supported by research, that are effective for individuals with ASD (Wong et al., 2014). However, selecting and implementing EBP for individuals with ASD poses challenges for practitioners in special education and related fields. The US Department of Education recently funded a new, e-learning resource, AFIRM (http://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/), for 2 years. AFIRM is developing online, self-paced learning modules on these 27 practices for teachers of students with ASD. To assess the effectiveness of AFIRM, users complete surveys on the usefulness, relevance, and quality of the online modules.
- Describe the usage data (page views, session length) from the AFIRM site.
- Examine the usability, relevance, and quality of AFIRM modules through collected survey data.
- Examine how teachers and practitioners are using the AFIRM resources in practice
Google analytics will be used to describe usage data of the AFIRM site. Following completion of a module, users have the option to complete a survey addressing the usability, relevance, and quality of the modules with Likert-type questions on a four point scale with 4 being the highest possible rating. In fall 2016, a survey of 9000+ AFIRM users will be completed. The results will identify how these practitioners are actually using the resources and materials in their classrooms. Descriptive statistics will be used to address the second and third objective.
Collection of data is ongoing as the number of modules expands and more users complete modules. Currently, the AFIRM website has over 15,500 registered users. The AFIRM site has had more than 1,170,000 page views with average session duration approximately 13 minutes. Users rated the quality of the modules highly with a mean of 3.5 (n=12,329). Users found the modules relevant to their work (m = 3.54, n=12,329) and useful (m=3.5, n=12,329). Based on a pilot survey of AFIRM users, AFIRM users (n=50) found the step-by-step guides, implementation checklists, tip sheets for professionals, and data sheets to be the most useful resources available on the site. Eighty-eight percent of respondents (n=33) visit the AFIRM site at least once a month. Nine-seven percent of respondents (n=33) found the AFIRM modules moderately helpful or very helpful in improving use of evidence-based practices. Data collected through March 2016 will be used to describe findings.
Initial findings indicate that teachers, practitioners, and professionals who complete the AFIRM modules find them relevant to their work, useful, and the quality of the modules high. AFIRM users find the AFIRM supplemental materials and resources useful. Most AFIRM users return to the site on a monthly basis and feel the modules and resources are helpful in improving use of evidence-based practices.