Examining Change in Motivation to Modify Teacher Behavior Following Training on Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
M. L. Rinaldi, K. V. Christodulu and L. Corona, Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY
Background: Current research has indicated that using best practices for educating students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the classroom can produce positive successful outcomes (Iovannone et al., 2003).  Despite the documented success of evidence-based educational practices for students with ASD, translation of research to real-world application in school settings is often lacking (Burns & Ysseldyke, 2009; Hess, Morrier, Heflin, Ivey, 2008) and little is known about why the research-to-practice gap exists (Callahan, Henson, & Cowan, 2008).  One potential area of investigation is examining teachers’ motivation to use evidence-based practices for students with ASD.

Objectives: To examine teachers’ motivation to change the practices used for students with ASD prior to and following a series of trainings on evidence-based practices for students with ASD.

Methods: A modified version of the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA; E. A. McConnaughy, J. O. Prochaska. & W. F. Velicer, 1983) was given to teachers across New York State from 2011-2014 to assess the teachers’ “stage of change” prior to and following a series of training on best practices for educating students with ASD. Training was conducted by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Albany (CARD Albany) and consisted of five full-day sessions over a three-month period that employed a research-based capacity building model. A cluster analysis was performed on the pre- and post- training data to examine the number of motivational subtypes in each sample and the percent of individuals in each subtype.

Results: Preliminary results of the study (data collection ongoing) support the existence of two subtypes – ambivalent and participation.   Initial results suggest that prior to training, 64.7% of teachers fell in the ambivalent cluster (reluctant about changing their behaviors) and 35.3% of teachers fell in the participation cluster (invested and involved in behavior change).   Following training, preliminary data indicates 73.5% of teachers were in the participation cluster while 26.5% of teachers were in the ambivalent cluster.  Overall results indicate a greater number of teachers were in a higher readiness stage following training.

Conclusions: The stages of change model has been used successfully to assist in the tailoring of treatments related to health behaviors and psychotherapy change (Norcross, Krebs, & Prochaska).   Knowledge about changes in teacher motivation to modify teaching practices for students with ASD following training in evidence-based practice can provide important information that could assist in future instruction of educators.

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