CPRT Fidelity of Implementation: An Examination of Antecedent and Consequence Strategies in Relation to Student Active Engagement

Friday, May 15, 2015: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
S. F. Vejnoska1, S. R. Rieth2, J. Suhrheinrich3, T. Wang4 and A. C. Stahmer4, (1)Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, (2)Child and Family Development, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, (3)University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, (4)Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA
Background: Active student engagement has been identified as a necessary component of learning for students in general and special education classrooms. Specific environmental arrangements, instructional strategies, and classroom contexts improve engagement in students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT) is a naturalistic, behavioral intervention for children with ASD. The effectiveness of CPRT is under examination in a randomized control trial across 102 participating teachers.  CPRT aims to increase active student engagement through antecedent strategies such as incorporating choices, following student interest, use of preferred materials, and turn-taking and consequence components such as providing contingent consequences and use of direct reinforcement to maintain student motivation. Because CPRT is a newly adapted intervention, there is a need to examine the relationship between teacher fidelity of individual components and student engagement. 

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between teacher fidelity on specific antecedent and consequent components of CPRT and active student engagement. 

Methods: Teachers were randomized to intervention or one of two waitlist control groups. Each teacher identified one to two target students with autism. Video observations of teachers and their students were collected four times annually.  Observations were behaviorally coded to assess teacher fidelity of implementation (FI) of CPRT during classroom activities and to measure student engagement. Videos were categorized based on activity type: one-on-one, group, and circle. CPRT FI was coded on a 1-5 Likert scale for each individual component with a score of a 4 or 5 considered passing.  Active engagement was coded when the student was engaged appropriately with the teacher.  We defined high active engagement as 50% or more of the coded segment.  Trained student research assistants who reached reliability coded a total of 244 videos.  A regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between teacher FI of individual components and student engagement.

Results:  In one-on-one settings, teachers offering choices and/or using turn taking at passing levels was associated with students having higher active engagement.  In one-on-one settings, across engagement levels, teachers tended to pass FI for contingent consequences, but most teachers had difficulty providing tangible reinforcement. In group and circle videos, across engagement levels, teachers consistently implemented antecedent strategies (following student interest and turn-taking) at passing levels, but also consistently had difficulty providing tangible reinforcement. 

Conclusions:  Active engagement in one-on-one settings is associated with teachers passing FI on antecedent strategies such as turn-taking and incorporating choices. There does not appear to be a link between active student engagement and teachers passing FI on antecedent strategies for group videos, meaning perhaps student control strategies are more important in individual activities or that they need to be more explicit in group activities. Findings imply that training could focus more on implementing reinforcement strategies more consistently in all activity types. Further analyses need to be done to explore the relationship between turn-taking and choices in individual activities. Additional analyses will be conducted to examine how child characteristics may moderate engagement during teacher use of CPRT strategies.