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IES Grant

Title: Examining the Initial Efficacy of the Goal Setting Challenge App: Impacts of Technology-Delivered Self-Determination Instruction on Secondary/Transition Outcomes
Center: NCSER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Shogren, Karrie Awardee: University of Kansas
Program: Transition to Postsecondary Education, Career, and/or Independent Living      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2023 – 06/30/2028) Award Amount: $3,800,000
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R324A230012

Co-Principal Investigators: Hicks, Tyler; Mazzotti, Valerie

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the initial efficacy of the Goal Setting Challenge (GSC) App, a fully developed, technology-delivered self-determination intervention. This intervention provides the core components of the self-determined learning model of instruction (SDLMI), a type of self-determination intervention usually delivered by teachers. The GSC App delivers instruction to students directly through technology. The research team will examine the impacts of the GSC App on the secondary, transition, and post-school outcomes of secondary students with disabilities. This is critically important given the evidence that self-determination instruction is a positive predictor of enhanced in-school and post-school outcomes and the potential for the GSC App to provide an alternative means to deliver self-determination instruction to help reduce the demands that this instruction can place on teachers. Ultimately, this project aims to provide important information to guide schools and teachers in selecting the most effective, including cost-effective, self-determination interventions that enhance student outcomes.

Project Activities: This project will use a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) across two cohorts of schools in Arkansas to determine the impact of the GCS App on secondary/transition and post-school outcomes compared to teacher-delivered SDLMI instruction and a business-as-usual condition. Costs effectiveness will also be analyzed.

Products: This project will result in evidence of the efficacy of the GCS App for secondary students with disabilities. The project will also result in a final dataset to be shared and peer-reviewed and practitioner-focused article/briefs, as well as additional dissemination products through state and local dissemination mechanisms such as newsletters, email lists, websites, and state and regional conferences.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in high schools in Arkansas.

Sample: The target population for the study will be secondary students with disabilities enrolled in an elective transition class sequence focused on addressing needs identified in their transition plans. There will two cohorts of 21 high schools (42 total), with an estimated 1 to 3 participating teachers of elective transition classes per school. Each teacher will support 10 to 15 participating students with diverse disability labels (e.g., learning disabilities, intellectual disability, autism, emotional and behavioral disabilities), leading to a total of approximately 84 (range 42 to 126) teachers and 1000 (range 420 to 1890) students.

Intervention: The GSC App is a technology-based intervention that delivers the core components of SDLMI in a technology-based instruction format. The GSC App includes 14 lessons organized around the 12 SDLMI student questions (constructed to direct the student through a self-regulated problem-solving sequence) with two introductory lessons to build students' understanding of key self-determination concepts and terms. The lessons included in the GSC App were designed to meet the teacher objectives associated with each SDLMI student question and provide critical educational supports using content and activities delivered through the GSC App. The GSC App was designed with accessibility, universal design for learning principles, and culturally responsive supports in mind and has multiple accessibility features for students with disabilities (such as text-to-speech, options to type or record responses, and responses in one lesson pulled forward to the next lesson). In this project, students will engage with the GSC App two to three times per week for 15 to 30 minutes per each session during elective transition class time.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will implement a cluster RCT, with schools randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (a) technology-delivered GSC App, (b) teacher-delivered SDLMI, or (c) business-as-usual. Schools will implement each condition for two academic years, and students with disabilities who exit school in the first cohort after the intervention ceases will be followed for longitudinal examination of post-school outcomes. In addition, a cost-effectiveness study will evaluate the most effective means of delivery while accounting for efficacy, cost, and adaptability.

Control Condition: The project has two control conditions. The active comparison condition will involve the teacher-delivered SDLMI using established materials. Teachers will be trained to implement the SDLMI two to three times a week in 20- to 30-minute blocks, one-on-one or in small groups, and will receive ongoing coaching. In the business-as-usual control condition, no additional supports or materials for self-determination instruction will be provided and teachers will continue with their typical, planned instruction.

Key Measures: Student-level secondary, transition, and post-schooloutcome measures will include data collected by the Arkansas Department of Education, Office of Special Education (ADE-OSE) on academic and transition engagement. The secondary school measures include course/grade completion, GPA, and scores on standardized tests. Transition outcome measures include self-determination and transition goal attainment. Post-schooloutcome measures will include administrative data collected by ADE-OSE on graduation, dropout, postsecondary education enrollment and completion, and employment.

Data Analytics Strategy: The research team will use multilevel modeling to examine differences across conditions on outcome measures. Longitudinal analysis within a piecewise framework (occasions, students, teachers, schools) will be used to test for different growth patterns between trial conditions. The data analysis will also examine school, teacher, and student characteristics that moderate treatment efficacy. These moderators include implementation and procedural fidelity; teacher knowledge, skills, and use of interventions; and student, teacher, and school demographic characteristics.

Cost Analysis: Standard cost-effectiveness analysis techniques will be used to determine which treatment level is most cost-effective for which outcomes. The research team will use the ingredients method to ascertain the total cost of implementing each intervention group for 2 years relative to each other for a total of three comparisons. Cost data will be gathered using multiple methods each semester, including direct observation, interviews, and surveys of stakeholders. Using individual-level data on post-intervention outcomes and cost data, the research team will calculate a cost-effectiveness ratio to quantify the cost-effectiveness of each intervention group on secondary and transition outcomes.

Related IES Projects: The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction: Examining the Impact of Implementation Supports on Teacher and Student Outcomes (R324A170008); Promoting Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities: Goal-Setting Challenge App (R324A180012)