Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Utilizing Participatory Action Research to Implement Evidence-Based Social Skills Interventions for Elementary Students with High Functioning Autism in Inclusive Classroom Settings
by Silveira-Zaldivar, Tracey, Ph.D., Northwest Nazarene University, 2019, 424; 13886434
Abstract (Summary)

More students with High Functioning Autism (HFA) are in inclusive settings than ever before, however, the physical combination of students with HFA and their typical peers alone is insufficient to address the social needs of students with HFA. Students with HFA in inclusive settings require evidence-based practices (EBPs) for social skills to be as successful as possible in mainstream settings. While many evidence-based practices (EBPs) targeting social skills for students with HFA exist, these practices are not routinely or effectively being implemented in school settings. A participatory action research (PAR) mixed-methods study was conducted to bridge the gap and motivate school districts to implement EBPs. The PAR study involved stakeholder focus groups (n = 12), training, and the implementation of EBP interventions. Surveys administered to elementary inclusion staff (n ≥ 30) explored the barriers to the implementation of EBPs, staff perceptions of the relevance of social skills, and staff awareness of EBPs. Training, time, support, prioritization, materials, and staff mindset were identified as the top six barriers to the successful implementation of social skills as identified by elementary inclusion staff. Staff awareness of EBPs differed significantly based on district job title. Regular education teachers were identified as the inclusion staff group needing the most training and support. Results of the relevance survey indicated that staff value social skills and support interventions for students with HFA. Post training, significant gains were noted in staff members’ knowledge of and competency with EBPs. Three qualitative themes regarding EBPs emerged from the data: (a) preparation, (b) social and foundational support, and (c) tension (opposing paradoxical forces). The researcher implemented respective pivotal response training (PRT) and peer mediated intervention (PMI) comprehensive interventions via single-subject design (n = 5). The two students with HFA in the PMI program showed significant improvement in Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) domains and domains in the Social Skills Checklist. Qualitative data supported the intervention for all students. The findings of the study suggest that PAR methods can be utilized successfully to bridge the gap between research and practice within inclusion public school elementary settings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Curtis, Heidi
Commitee: Erratt, John, Fowers-Coils, Ashley
School: Northwest Nazarene University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Idaho
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Disability studies, Behavioral psychology, Educational leadership, Elementary education
Keywords: Barriers, Evidence-based practices (EBPs), High Functioning Autism (HFA), Inclusion, Participatory action research (PAR), Social skills interventions
Publication Number: 13886434
ISBN: 978-1-392-19162-0
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