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IES Grant

Title: Promoting ASAP Collaboration through Technology (PACT): An Intervention Modification to Enhance Home-School Collaboration
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Boyd, Brian Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2020) Award Amount: $1,460,908
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A170151

Previous institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Previous sward number: R324A160033

Co-Principal Investigators: Stephanie Reszka; Deb Childress (3C Institute)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and pilot test a web-based enhancement of the classroom-based Advancing Social-Communication and Play (ASAP) intervention to support collaborations between home and school. ASAP was designed to develop joint attention (i.e., shared attention toward an object or event with another person) and symbolic play (i.e., pretending), both pivotal skills for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Although there is evidence that ASAP is efficacious, there is little evidence of generalization across school and home contexts. Further, providing a greater connection between the two settings will help establish a more comprehensive assessment of the child's needs as part of ASAP. This new website, Promoting ASAP Collaboration through Technology (PACT), will be designed to generate individualized implementation recommendations based on child needs, and allow for electronic communication between school providers and parents who are implementing ASAP across school and home settings.

Project Activities: The project will be conducted in three phases. In Phase 1, the PACT website will be developed using feedback from parents and school providers. In Phase 2, the research team will assess the feasibility of parents using the website in their homes to implement the ASAP intervention and examine fidelity of implementation using single-case design studies. In Phase 3, the team will collect pilot data on the co-implementation of ASAP by school providers and parents across both contexts using a quasi-experimental design.

Products: The products of this project will include the fully developed web-based enhancement to ASAP, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in the classrooms and homes of preschool-aged children with ASD in North Carolina.

Sample: Preschool children (ages 3-5 years) with ASD, as well as their parents and school providers, will participate in this project. For Phase 1, 40 parents will participate in focus groups and 30 school providers will participate in semi-structured interviews. For Phase 2, eight parent-child dyads will participate in the single-case design studies. In Phase 3, 24 classrooms will participate in the pilot study. All classrooms will have lead teachers who have previously been trained in ASAP, though the whole classroom team will participate in the intervention. Within each classroom, there will be two target children participating, resulting in a total of 48 children and their families.

Intervention: ASAP, previously developed and evaluated through IES funding, is a classroom-based intervention aimed at increasing social-communication and play skills. The classroom team implements the intervention through group activities and one-to-one sessions. For the current study, after the school team is trained in ASAP, teachers will invite parents of children with ASD to participate in the new PACT website, and the parents, in turn, will be able to invite additional caregivers to participate. The website will consist of a tutorial on using the website, an overview of ASAP for parents, a language assessment, supports for parents to implement ASAP at home (e.g., video library, implementation guide, activity examples), questions for self-monitoring, and ASAP tips of the week. An additional feature is the home/school communication component. The parent website will automatically transfer information about the child's progress to the lead teacher, and teachers can send emails or texts to the parents to share progress information or ideas for implementation. Finally, the website will generate child progress reports. A mobile interface of the website will also be developed.

Research Design and Methods: The PACT website will be developed and tested iteratively through three phases. In Phase 1, the website will be developed with input from focus groups of parents and semi-structured interviews with school providers of children with ASD. Participants will then have access to the website to evaluate usability, with data gathered through the software and rating scales. In Phase 2, multiple-baseline, single-case design studies will be used to assess feasibility and fidelity of implementation of parents' use of the website at home. In the final stage, a quasi-experimental design will be used for the pilot study. Classrooms will include those in which the lead teacher is already trained in ASAP. The treatment group, receiving ASAP with PACT, will be larger than the control group (16 versus 8 classrooms) to examine variability in implementation. This study aims to examine the promise of the website for improving parent outcomes, improving the generalization of child skills to the home, and exploring associations between parental characteristics (e.g., self-efficacy, quality of relationship with teacher) and fidelity of implementation.

Control Condition: For the pilot study, the control group will participate in ASAP as usual, without access to the PACT website.

Key Measures: In the first phase, parent and school provider usability outcomes will be measured through software usage data (e.g., time for task completion, frequency of errors) and feedback provided through focus groups and semi-structured interviews. For the single-case design studies, parent usage data will be measured again, fidelity of implementation will be measured through a modified version of the previously developed ASAP fidelity rating scale measure, and feasibility and social validity will be measured through parental interviews. In addition, observations of parent-child dyads will be used to assess child outcome data (e.g., engagement). For the final pilot study, fidelity of implementation by classroom teachers will be measured through interviews and behavioral observations. Feasibility data will be gathered from teachers through software usage data and questionnaires. Parent characteristic measures will include the Parental Efficacy subscale of the Parent Locus of Control Scale and the Parent-Teacher Relationship Scale. Child outcome measures will include the behavioral observations and coding of engagement and social-communication and play skills. Treatment acceptability and usability scales will also measure parents' and school teams' satisfaction with the website. The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 will be used to determine child participant eligibility.

Data Analytic Strategy: Focus group and interview data will be transcribed and analyzed qualitatively by identifying themes and perspectives. The team will use visual analysis for the single-case design studies. For the pilot study, analysis of covariance will be used to examine associations between exposure to the website and changes in parent outcomes and group differences across time in the generalization of children's social and play skills to the home setting. Additional associations between fidelity of implementation and parent characteristics will be explored through correlational analyses.

Project Website:

Related IES Projects: Social Communication and Symbolic Play Intervention for Preschoolers with Autism (R324B070056) and Advancing Social-Communication and Play (ASAP): An Intervention Program for Preschoolers with Autism (R324A110256)