How Do Educators Use Evidence-Based Practices with Students with ASD?

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
P. LaCava, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI
Background: The search for effective practices in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been an ongoing initiative for families and professionals alike (Simpson, 2005). While scientifically based research has been promoted since the 1960s, a push for the use of evidence-based practices (EBP) has only been targeted more recently (Odom et al., 2005). Groups such as the National Professional Development Center (Wong et al., 2014) have published critical reports on EBP, including the identification of EBP and practice guidelines. Despite these advances there still exits a research to practice gap (Parson et al., 2013). The overall objective of this research is to explore educators’ understanding and use of EBP in schools.

Objectives: The objectives of this study include:

  1. identify educator knowledge, opinions and attitudes about EBP
  2. describe the practices educators use
  3. identify barriers to using EBP
  4. identify professional development needs
  5. understand how educators make EBP decisions
  6. pilot an EBP process tool

Methods: This multi-phase study takes place in a northeastern U.S. state and includes qualitative and quantitative methods. Phase 1, which is currently underway, includes interviews, a questionnaire, and implementation of a pilot EBP process. The questionnaire is used to identity participant demographics, educational level, ASD training, etc. Interviews are used to understand what EBP are used and how educators make EBP decisions. Member checks are used to confirm validity. Participants are also interviewed at their school before, during and after they use the pilot EBP process to gather information about the tool’s validity. This tool guides educators to choose, use and evaluate EBP. Participants were recruited through autism related email list serves and must work with at least one student with ASD to be included.

Phase 2 begins in 2019 and is an online questionnaire to survey educators. Phase 1 data will help guide the construction of the questionnaire which include sections on: participant demographics, understanding/attitudes/opinions of EBP, practices used, training and professional development.

Phase 3 which will be implemented in 2020 uses focus groups, observations and other qualitative methods to gain rich insights about ASD practice in schools as a follow up to the previous two phases.

Results: Educators have been recruited who work with students with ASD from early childhood to young adult levels. Current results indicate that professionals are using a range of eclectic practices, but most were unaware of free EBP resources (e.g., the AFIRM Modules). Some participants noted they don’t use some practices with fidelity and that their school/district has limited resources to support them. To date, most participants have stated they like the pilot EBP process tool and that it is helpful for them to think about EBP and use practices with fidelity. Final results will be shared at the INSAR meeting.

Conclusions: Initial implications include the need for more specific EBP training as well as school district level coaching and infrastructure to support educators. Basic dissemination of the NPDC and other EBP work needs to be done. Final conclusions will be made after all data are collected prior to the INSAR meeting.

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See more of: Education