Using Technology to Promote the Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices in the United States and Internationally for Learners with ASD

Friday, May 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
A. Sam1, A. W. Cox2, O. Alhaqbani3 and S. L. Odom4, (1)Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, NC, (2)Frank Porter Graham Institute, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, (3)Center For Autism Research, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, (4)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

There is a national need for preparing teachers and other educational staff to implement evidence-based practices (EBP) with students with ASD.  A new report from the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) details 27 evidence-based practices, supported by research, that are effective for individuals with ASD (Wong et al., 2014). However, selecting and implementing EBP for individuals with ASD poses challenges for practitioners in special education and related fields. The US Department of Education recently funded a new, e-learning resource, AFIRM (http://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/), for 2 years.  AFIRM is developing online, self-paced learning modules on these 27 practices for teachers of students with ASD. To assess the effectiveness of AFIRM, users complete surveys on the usefulness, relevance, and quality of the online modules.


  1. Describe the demographics of the users who access the AFIRM modules (nationality, profession).
  2. Examine the usability, relevance, and quality of AFIRM modules through collected survey data.
  3. Compare survey ratings of international users and users from the United States.


Users complete a survey with Likert-type questions on a four point scale with 4 being the highest possible rating. The survey addresses the usability, relevance, and quality of the AFIRM modules. Descriptive statistics and analyses will be used to examine similarities and differences in the ratings among international users and users from the United States. 


Collection of data is ongoing as the number of modules expands and more users complete modules. Currently, the AFIRM website has over 2,600 users of the current 7 modules, representing more than 40 countries world-wide.  The quality of the current modules were rated highly ranging from a mean of 3.33 for the Reinforcement module (n=96) to 3.70 for the Social Narrative module (n=13). Users rated the AFIRM modules as relevant to the work they do ranging from a mean of 3.35 for Time Delay (n=34) to 3.62 for Visual Supports (n=206). Users found the modules useful ranging from a mean of 3.32 for Time Delay (n=34) to 3.54 for Social Narratives (n=12). As development continues, an additional 10 modules are scheduled for release before March 2016.  Data collected through March 2016 will be used to describe findings.


Initial findings indicate that teachers, practitioners, and professionals (in more than 40 countries) who complete the AFIRM modules find them relevant to their work, useful, and the quality of the modules high. Further analyses will determine differences in how international users and users in the United States rate the usefulness, relevance, and quality of the modules.

Both the AFIRM and NPDC websites are in English. Recently, NPDC entered into a partnership with the Center for Autism Research, King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Riyadh, KSA to translate resources and materials into Arabic (cfar.kfshrc.edu.sa/HomeEnglish.aspx). Once the translation is underway, links will be added between the CFAR and AFIRM websites to facilitate access to the materials by Arabic speaking communities.