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IES Grant

Title: Goal Guide: A Web-Based Application to Improve Goal Self-Management for Students with Autism
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Keating, Thomas Awardee: Assistech Systems, LLC
Program: Autism Spectrum Disorders      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2019) Award Amount: $1,447,293
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A160298

Previous Award Number: R324A160252
Previous Institution: Eugene Research Institute

Co-Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Sprague (University of Oregon)

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop a web application, Goal Guide, which enables students with mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to effectively set goals in various life domains (e.g., academic and behavioral outcomes in school, personal behavior, life skills). Research has shown that goal-setting plays a role in reducing the need for support, increasing the likelihood of goal attainment, and enhancing self-determination and task performance; however, further research and development are needed on how to effectively support goal-setting and completion. Through a web application platform, Goal Guide addresses this need in a way that simultaneously enhances student self-management, academic, behavioral, functional, and social outcomes and facilitates the efforts of teachers and parents to help these students stay on track to goal completion.

Project Activities: The research team will refine and complete development of a web-based intervention, Goal Guide, aimed at improving functional outcomes for students with mild or moderate autism. In the first 2 years, the research team will focus on the iterative development of Goal Guide, curriculum integration, and examination of the application's usability and feasibility of implementation. In the final year, Goal Guide will be pilot tested using a within-subjects repeated measures study to evaluate the promise of the intervention for improving students' goal setting and other outcomes.

Products: The products of this project will include a fully developed goal management application with integrated goal-setting curriculum; findings from its evaluation for usability, feasibility, and promise of efficacy; and peer-reviewed publications and presentations to disseminate those findings.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in rural and urban middle and high schools in Oregon.

Sample: Approximately 25 parents and 10 teachers will be recruited to provide design input and to facilitate use and evaluation across school and home settings. The project will involve 40 middle and high school students and students in transition to high school or postsecondary lives with mild to moderate ASD ages 14–21.

Intervention: Goal Guide is a web-based application designed to support the self-management and goal setting of students with mild or moderate autism. Goal Guide promotes self-management through the following steps: (1) create activity goals, (2) monitor their own performance, (3) evaluate progress through accessible information displays, (4) share performance and evaluate goal accomplishment and designated incentives with others, and (5) revise or renew goals. The intervention includes a goal-management mobile application that incorporates a step-by-step guide for using the application, a dashboard facilitating the ease-of-use of the application, and universal design principles. The application also includes an integrated curriculum component, where teachers provide instructional support for key concepts. In order to promote student accountability, teachers and parents stay involved in students' progress through email updates on students' interactions with their goals.

Research Design and Methods: In the first 2 years, the research team will iteratively develop the web-application, Goal Guide, using feedback collected from multiple sources. In Year 1, the research team will conduct focus groups to obtain usability and feasibility feedback about the intervention. In Year 2, the research team will analyze the usability and feasibility of the intervention through a multiple baseline single-case design study of six high school students with autism. Students will be randomly assigned to the order of starting the program. The research team will collect measures prior to and following the intervention. In Year 3, over the course of 12 weeks, 18 high school students will participate in a within-subject repeated measures study designed to evaluate the promise of Goal Guide. The research team will collect student data prior to, directly following, and 12 weeks following the intervention.

Key Measures: The students will be screened for eligibility using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, adaptive behavior assessments, and IQ tests. Students will be assessed on goal accomplishment as measured through Goal Attainment Scaling; student academic and functional outcomes (e.g., student report cards and standardized test scores, content knowledge, goal task performance); and sense of self-determination as measured by the AIR Self-Determination Scale. Teachers' self-efficacy will be assessed using the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale-Short Form-Adapted. Parents', teachers', and students' satisfaction with the intervention will be measured using a researcher-developed survey. Usability, feasibility, and fidelity of implementation data will be collected using observational checklists throughout the study, supplemented by an online implementation checklist.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will analyze data collected from the Year 2 multiple baseline study using visual analysis, trend analysis, and effect sizes. For the pilot study data collected in Year 3, the researchers will conduct analyses of covariance to assess the main effect of using Goal Guide on students' goal-setting and academic and behavioral outcomes.