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IES Grant

Title: Promoting Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities: A Goal-Setting Challenge App
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Shogren, Karrie Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Transition to Postsecondary Education, Career, and/or Independent Living      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 Years (07/01/2018-06/30/2021) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A180012

Co-Principal Investigator: Mazzotti, Valerie

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop an interactive web application, the Goal-Setting Challenge (GSC) App, to enhance goal setting and attainment skills of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities. Self-determination skills, including self-regulated problem solving, goal setting and attainment, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation, are critical for successful transitions to post-secondary and employment settings. Existing self-determination interventions, such as the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI), have been shown to increase self-determination in students with disabilities, but they are time- and resource-intensive for teachers to deliver. There is a need for interventions that reduce demands on teacher time and promote more independent engagement in self-determination activities on behalf of the student. This project will address this need by developing a web-based application that will provide students with technology-based supports to allow them to self-direct their learning around setting and working toward academic, behavioral, and transition goals.

Project Activities: Development and pilot testing of the GSC App will use an iterative mixed methods design and will include: (a) qualitative methods (i.e., focus groups, user testing) with teachers and students in Year 1 to provide guidance on the GSC App development (e.g., accessibility and use by students); (b) single-case design studies with students in Year 2 to gather information on usability, feasibility, and fidelity of the GSC App to address areas of needed improvement and ensure readiness for pilot testing; and (c) a randomized controlled trial pilot study in Year 3 to determine the promise of the GSC App for improving the attainment of academic, behavior, and transition-related goals among adolescents with high-incidence disabilities.

Products: The products of this project will include the fully developed GSC App, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in high schools in Oregon, Kansas, and Missouri.

Sample: Across the three project years, a total of 100 adolescents (ages 16-21) with high-incidence disabilities (i.e., specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, and other health impairment) will participate. Students will be from diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds. In addition, approximately 20 special education teachers will participate in the development activities and feasibility studies in Years 1 and 2 and, in Year 3, 15 will participate in the pilot study.

Intervention: The GSC App will be a web-based application to promote student goal-setting, problem solving, and decision-making skills. The GSC App will be aligned with the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI). In SDLMI, teachers train students to use a self-regulated problem solving process that involves answering a set of questions that guide them to set a goal, create a plan to achieve that goal, self-monitor and self-evaluate progress toward that goal, and alter the plan or the goal as needed. The GSC App will include three instructional phases that correspond to this process, including: (1) Set a Goal, which is focused on the process of setting short- and long-term goals; (2) Make a Plan, which focuses on the process of developing an action plan to achieve those goals; and (3) Adjust Your Goal, which is focused on evaluating progress towards goals and adjusting goals as needed. The GSC App will provide content interactively via animated teachers and students, and students will have the option of responding to questions via written text and/or verbally. Students will independently work through all lessons within the app. The GSC App will also contain a teacher dashboard where teachers can view the progress of each student in their classroom, review student answers to questions, and access usage reports.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will use an iterative mixed methods design for the development and pilot testing of the GSC App. In Year 1, the team will conduct focus groups and user testing with teachers and students to obtain feedback to inform GSC App development. In Year 2, multiple-baseline single-case design studies will be conducted to examine the fidelity and feasibility of the GSC App as well as its initial effects on students' knowledge of the skills targeted in the GSC App and level of self-determination and goal attainment. In Year 3, a randomized controlled trial pilot study, in which students serve as the unit of randomization, will be conducted to determine the promise of the GSC App for improving students' self-determination and attainment of academic, behavior, and transition-related goals.

Control Condition: In the single-case design studies, each participant will serve as his own control. For the pilot study, students in the comparison condition will receive business-as-usual instruction and services.

Key Measures: The primary outcomes include student goal-setting and attainment, and self-determination. Student knowledge of the skills necessary for goal-setting will be assessed via student responses in the GSC App. The Self-Determination Inventory: Student Report will be used to assess student self-determination. Goal Attainment Scaling will be used to collect data on student progress toward achieving academic, behavior, and transition-related goals.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative data analysis techniques will be used to analyze data from student and teacher focus groups and descriptive analyses will be conducted to examine intervention fidelity and student knowledge of skills targets in the GSC App in Years 1 and 2. Visual analysis will be used to examine the impact of the GSC App on student outcomes in Year 2. Data from the Year 3 pilot study will be analyzed using multi-level modeling. The team will also examine whether intervention effects are mediated by disability type (i.e., specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, and other health impairment).

Related IES Projects: The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction: Examining the Impact of Implementation Supports on Teacher and Student Outcomes (R324A170008)