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Teachers' Implementation of ASD Evidence Based Practices in General Education Classrooms

Friday, 3 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
M. I. Thomson, Autism Teaching Institute, Victoria, Australia
Background:  Teaching students with ASD can be a complex and baffling experience. Evidence shows that teachers in general education classrooms are unsure how autism impacts individual students’ learning, and how to select teaching strategies for such students. Prevalence figures indicate that most regular schools will have one or more children with an ASD. Although there is little research on the factors associated with student progress or lack of progress in general education classrooms, it is known that teacher training is inadequate (National Research Council 2003, McKee 2005).

Clinical research has identified effective practices to address social, communication and behavioral deficits for children with ASD. However, little research has been undertaken as to how to translate these findings into effective practice in general classrooms (National Professional Development Centre on ASD). Lack of understanding of the core impairments of ASD and their variable manifestation in each child create significant barriers to adoption of Evidence Based Practice (EBP) by teachers in such classrooms. Teacher ‘uptake’ of EBP increases with support that includes coaching, staff support such as extra class aides, and assessment analysis of individual needs.

A model of ASD certified training for general classroom teachers, focusing on theory informing practice with hands-on coaching and mentoring has been available in Victoria, Australia since 2006. This study includes graduates of this training along with other teachers of primary school classrooms who teach students with ASD.

Objectives:  This study has two connected aims: to examine what difference a teacher’s knowledge of EBP for learners with ASD in the general education classroom makes to their practice; and to find how to provide teacher training which will improve practice. The study has two stages:
1.    Pilot Study undertaken first, to test instruments to be used in the larger study.
2.    Full implementation study.

Methods:  This is a quasi- experimental ex post facto research project of matched groups design. The independent variables are the teacher’s knowledge of ASD and EBP interventions, their sense of self efficacy with meeting the needs of students with ASD in their classroom, demographic information including total years of teaching experience, number of students with ASD previously taught, their level of autism and the level of care needed, and the data collection methods used to inform teaching practice. The dependent variable is the set of twenty-four focused interventions (Odom 2011) that have been operationally defined and set out in the observational protocol.

Expected Results:
•    Information on the factors associated with teachers’ effective implementation of EBP in general classrooms for students with ASD
•    Practice tools for teachers, eg. an implementation checklist for teachers that  can document use of EBP interventions for students with ASD in general classroom
•    Knowledge of the aspects of training to target and prioritise for teachers of ASD students in general education classrooms
•    Understanding of how to build on the pre-existing knowledge of teachers as they acquire experience of ASD.

Conclusions:  The study promises to identify factors which retard or facilitate translation of EBP from clinical settings to the classroom.

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