General Education Teacher Use of Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Background: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased in recent years (Maenner et al., 2020), which also means more students with ASD are receiving services in schools. Students on the autism spectrum are at an increased risk for emotional, behavioral, social, and academic deficits, which can impact their performance in the classroom (e.g., Ashburner et al., 2010). As more students with ASD are integrated into the general education classroom, it is important to examine general education teacher cognitive factors and self-report of behaviors, as they are increasingly responsible for instructing these students. Specifically, investigating what evidence-based practices (EBPs) they report using and what factors may influence the choice of these practices (e.g., attitudes, self-efficacy, priorities, etc.) can help identify ways to better support general education teachers who are instructing students with ASD. One framework that may help researchers in this area is implementation science, which is the study of factors that influence the full and effective use of EBPs (Fixsen et al., 2005). To enhance acceptability and uptake and use of EBPs in the education sector, this framework underscores the importance of understanding factors such as knowledge, attitudes, and social validity of the EBP, as well as other relevant factors such as self-efficacy and instructional priorities. Understanding the systems that influence children with ASD, such as schools and specifically teacher practices, can ultimately reveal ways to improve outcomes for this population. Purpose: The aims of this study were to examine which EBPs general education teachers report using for students with ASD and what factors influence their reports of EBP use in general education classrooms. Methods: The study involved an anonymous, online survey, which included screening questions to determine eligibility for the study, a demographic characteristics survey, the Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale (EBPAS; Aarons, 2004), Teacher Self-Efficacy for Students with Autism Scale (TSEAS; Love, 2016), and questions about instructional priorities (Knight et al., 2019), as well as knowledge, social validity, and self-reported use of EBPs (Sulek et al., 2019). Results: The total sample size was 123 general education teachers. General education teachers reported using EBPs at least once per week, but not every day for their students with ASD. The most frequently used EBPs, reported as being used sometimes (in order from most to least), were antecedent-based interventions, music-mediated interventions, and prompting. The EBPs reported as being least frequently used (between less than once per week and more than once a week but not everyday) and included functional behavior analysis, extinction, and discrete trial training. Hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that EBP knowledge and EBP social validity were significantly associated with self-reported EBP use. However, years of teaching experience, access to professional development resources, attitudes towards EBPs, and self-efficacy in working with students with ASD did not significantly predict teachers reports of using EBPs in the classroom. Conclusion: The EBPs that general education teachers self-reported as using most frequently for students with ASD were ones they had more knowledge about and found more acceptable and feasible for implementing in their classrooms. To increase use of EBPs by general education teachers for students with ASD, teacher preparation programs, professional development sessions, and continuing education workshops should aim to increase the knowledge of and social validity surrounding EBPs.



Autism spectrum disorder, General education