International Meeting for Autism Research: Randomized Study of Web-Based Teacher Coaching: Promising Practice and Lessons Learned

Randomized Study of Web-Based Teacher Coaching: Promising Practice and Lessons Learned

Friday, May 13, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
11:00 AM
L. A. Ruble1, J. H. McGrew2 and R. Johnson1, (1)University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (2)Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, United States

The critical shortage in the numbers of special education teachers with appropriate training and available to respond to the epidemic increase in the prevalence of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a major challenge for schools.  Shortfalls in the current training system have given impetus to the investigation of innovative professional development models.  Research that provides scientific decision making in the selection and use of professional development models has the potential for major impact in both urban and rural areas.. Access to specialists in ASD is especially problematic for rural communities, and is exacerbated when communities are geographically isolated and impoverished such as those in Appalachian Kentucky. Urban schools also face similar challenges because the number of students with autism can easily exceed the availability of autism consultants and supports for classroom teachers. Moreover, the costs associated with professional development, consultation, and travel typically far exceed available resources for urban and rural schools alike.


The primary goal is twofold: (a) to present results of a randomized controlled trial of teacher consultation utilizing web-based technologies and (b) to include a description of lessons learned before implementing web-based technologies.


Forty-three special education teachers were recruited from South Central and Eastern Kentucky and South Central Indiana.  Participants were randomized into one of three groups: (a) placebo control, n = 15; (b) face-to-face coaching, n = 14; or (c) web-based coaching, n = 14.   The participants in the two experimental groups received a manualized consultation intervention called COMPASS (Ruble, Dalrymple, & McGrew, 2010). Following the initial consultation at the beginning of the school year, teachers in both groups received four coaching sessions. During the coaching phase, a video recording was reviewed of the teacher instructing the child with ASD using the teaching plan from the consultation and a semi-structured interview using a problem solving approach was applied.  Face-to-face coaching was onsite whereas web-based coaching occurred via Adobe® Connect Pro™ video conferencing technology. The placebo control group received online autism training.. Child outcomes were measured at the end of the school year using goal attainment scaling (GAS) of curriculum based assessment and direct observation by a  research team member unaware of group assignment. Comparative analysis of child outcome will be conducted at Time 2 using analysis of covariance, with Time 1 GAS scores as the covariate.


The study is currently underway. Final data collection will occur in April/May 2011. Based on prior research (Ruble, McGrew & Dalrymple, 2010), we expect that students whose teacher receives COMPASS will demonstrate higher achievement GAS scores than students whose teacher do not receive the training.  We also predict that the face-to-face experimental group will have higher goal attainment compared to the web-based group.


We believe that the COMPASS intervention plus web-based technologies provide a promising avenue for improving educational outcomes. We will also provide a demonstration of the web-based technology we employed as well as lessons learned for future research and practice.

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