Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Examining How Teacher-Student Interactions within Mathematics and Literacy Instructional Contexts Relate to the Developmental and Academic Outcomes of Early Elementary Students with Autism
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Sparapani, Nicole Awardee: University of California, Davis
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2021 – 6/30/2025) Award Amount: $1,699,998
Type: Exploration Award Number: R324A210288

Co-Principal Investigator: Mundy, Peter

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to better understand the mathematics and literacy learning opportunities provided to early elementary students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in general education classrooms and how these opportunities are associated with student outcomes. The research team will examine student participation, teacher instructional practices, and teacher language use during instructional lessons and explore how the dynamic associations between them shape students' developmental and academic outcomes. These data will also be used to explore the student- and classroom-level factors that may moderate relationships between teacher behavior and student outcomes for learners with and without ASD. The knowledge gained from this project is expected to contribute to the improvement of educational outcomes for school-age children with ASD.

Project Activities: The research team will use a longitudinal research design to observe student and teacher classroom behavior three times over the course of a school year. They will also give participating students a battery of developmental and academic measures in the fall and spring of the school year. Researchers will analyze these data to identify relationships between teacher instructional behavior and student outcomes.

Products: This project will identify relationships between teacher behavior, student behavior, and student outcomes as well as the factors that may moderate them. The project will result in a shared final dataset, peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in general education classrooms in large, diverse public school districts in northern CA.

Sample Participants will include a total of 200 kindergarten–3rd grade students (100 with ASD; 100 without ASD) and their credentialed general education teachers.

Factors: Factors examined in this project include teacher instructional behavior, student participation, and developmental and academic outcomes in mathematics and reading. Teacher instructional behavior is conceptualized as a combination of extending talk, knowledge building, thinking and reasoning, encouraging interaction, and responsiveness to students' contributions. Student participation is conceptualized as a combination of emotion regulation, attention regulation, behavior, flexibility, classroom productivity, communication initiations, and responses. Potential moderators of the interaction between these factors include classroom-level factors (classroom organization) and student-level factors (autism symptoms, joint attention, social attention, and cognition).

Research Design and Methods: This project uses a quantitative longitudinal research design and systematic observational data collection. Video samples of student and teacher behavior will be collected three times in a school year and coded by trained observers. Twice per school year, researchers will also assess students' cognitive, adaptive, and executive functioning; maladaptive behavior problems; sensory processing patterns; receptive vocabulary; and mathematics and literacy achievement.

Control Condition Participants will include students without ASD as a comparative sample so researchers can examine similarities and differences in teacher instructional behavior and student participation between students with and without ASD.

Key Measures: Researchers will create a multi-dimensional measure of student active participation by combining components of the Creating Opportunities to Learn from Text observation tool and the Classroom Measure of Active Engagement observation system. Classroom organization will be measured with the Quality of the Classroom Learning Environment. Autism symptomology will be measured with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition, the Early Social Communication Scales, and the NEPSY-II. For student developmental outcomes, researchers will measure student cognitive functioning (Differential Ability Scales, Second Edition), adaptive functioning (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Third Edition) and executive functioning (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning-2), maladaptive behavior (Child Behavior Checklist-Teacher Report Form), and sensory processing patterns (Sensory Profile 2). Student academic achievement will be assessed with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement.

Data Analytic Strategy Structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to evaluate the dynamic relations among the student and teacher behavior, student- and classroom-level potential moderators, and student developmental and academic outcomes. Latent growth curve models will be used to evaluate change in student and teacher behavior over time.

Related IES Projects A Randomized Trial of the SCERTS Curriculum for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Early Elementary School Classrooms (R324A100174); Exploring Effective Reading Comprehension Instruction: Classroom Practice, Teacher, and Student Characteristics (R305A130058)