Do Common Elements across Ebps Correlate with Child Engagement and Learning Outcomes?

Panel Presentation
Thursday, May 2, 2019: 11:20 AM
Room: 517B (Palais des congres de Montreal)
L. A. Ruble1, A. M. Love2, J. H. McGrew3 and V. Hang1, (1)University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (2)Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (3)Psychology, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
Background: It is a challenge for special education teachers to be competent in and implement evidence-based practices (EBP). This is particularly difficult given that the National Professional Development Center on ASD has identified 27 different EBPs. We propose a set of common elements, or evidence-based principles, that represent high quality teaching sequences that exemplify features common across most EBPs and within any effective teaching plan.

Objectives: The presentation will propose and test a measure of common elements and examine the association with child outcomes and engagement.

Methods: The Common Elements of Teaching Sequences (CETS) observational scale was assessed using videotapes obtained from an RCT of the Collaborative Model for Promoting Competence and Success (COMPASS), a child-centered, teacher coaching intervention that occurs over five sessions during the school year. For coaching, teachers provide videotapes of their teaching plan implementation. Videotapes from 29 teachers of children with ASD (3-8 yrs) from the first and final coaching session were used.

CETS measures whether: (a) the instruction that engages the child is meaningful and associated with the targeted skill; (b) the teacher/peer/environment is successful in obtaining the child’s attention; (c) the teacher/peer/environment prompts the child to demonstrate the skill; (d) sufficient wait time is provided following the initial request and after each prompt; and (e) the teacher/peer/environment reinforces/corrects the child after the sequence. Items are rated dichotomously (1=No; 2=Yes), except item two (attention), which was rated on a 3-point scale (1=Poor; 2=Somewhat; 3=Good). Interrater reliability was good using Holsti's (1969) coefficient of reliability (CR) across all items and coders (93.9%), Cohen's (1960) kappa (k) where values ranged from 1 to .82, and Spearman’s rho for item two of .81.

Child engagement was assessed with the Autism Engagement Rating Scale (AERS; Ruble & McGrew, 2013). The AERS assesses child: (a) cooperation; (b) functional use of objects; (c) productivity; (d) independence; (e) consistency between child’s and teacher’s goals; and (f) attention using a 5-point Likert. The summed score of the items was used (alpha = .86, r = 0.88).

Psychometrically Equivalence Tested Goal Attainment Scaling (PET-GAS; Ruble, McGrew, & Toland, 2012) assessed progress toward learning outcomes along a 5-point scale. Scores were based on direct observation of child progress toward IEP goals (ICC=.90-.99) by a blinded rater.

Results: Teachers demonstrated higher scores for maintaining child attention (t=-3.4, p<.01), providing an initial prompt (t=-2.1, p=.05), and allowing wait time initially (t=9.3, p<.01), and subsequently (t=-4.9, p<.01). Implementation of common elements improved (t=8.5, p <.01), and was correlated with child engagement at coaching 1 (r=.69, p<.01) and 4 (r=.61, p<.01), and with goal attainment at coaching 1 (r=.56, p<.01) and 4 (r=.61, p<.01).

Conclusions: A prior study of preschool children with ASD indicated that common elements, rather than specific program components, accounted for learning outcomes (Boyd et al., 2014). The CETS operationalizes one set of common elements that may be helpful for evaluating teaching quality across EBPs. Importantly, children of teachers demonstrating the use of common elements were more engaged and made more progress toward their goals.