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Precision Teaching: A meta-analysis and investigation into its components and effects upon students' mathematical ability within special education

Vostanis, Athanasios (2023) Precision Teaching: A meta-analysis and investigation into its components and effects upon students' mathematical ability within special education. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100359) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:100359)

Language: English

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International and national data suggest that education fails to produce optimal student outcomes. This is particularly relevant for students with IDD or SEN that attend either mainstream or special education. As a result, education is gradually transitioning towards more evidence-based approaches to improve outcomes for all students. Various systems have been developed and used in this attempt, such as Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. One system that has produced encouraging evidence is Precision Teaching, which integrates strategies from the experimental and applied analysis of behaviour and education. This system is primarily a progress monitoring and decision-making system that can be used across a range of skills, including academic, language, and motor skills, to name a few. However, PT has received inadequate attention from educators and behaviour analysts primarily due to how it has previously been researched and disseminated. The overarching aim of this PhD was to evaluate PT's effectiveness as a system used to accelerate educational outcomes for students with IDD and particularly mathematics.

The aim of Study 1 was to evaluate the whole PT literature against the most modern criteria developed by the field. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted that had a series of aims, namely to (a) evaluate the quality of PT's existing evidence by including studies that would align with its most up-to-date conceptualisation, (b) gather general information on PT's application, including the population, setting, interventions used and more, (c) gather technical information on PT's application, such as the duration of assessments, visual displays used, or frequency aims set, and (d) evaluate PT's effectiveness by completing a meta-analysis using studies that met the specified quality criteria. The EBSCO information services were used to access the British Education Index, ERIC, and APA PsycINFO. Elsevier was used to access SCOPUS, while PubMed and Web of Science were also used. Studies including a mixture of methodologies were evaluated with a series of quality assessment tools, including the Evaluative Method and the JBI checklists. Out of the total number of articles, 164 were included in the review, while 27 were included in the meta-analysis. Findings demonstrated that PT had been applied across various skills, settings, and populations with a primary focus on academic skills. The overall quality of the literature was poor as most studies scored below an adequate overall quality. However, PT was associated with effect sizes that were medium to large, while heterogeneity was substantial. The results suggest that PT can optimise existing practices and has much potential for improving provision for students with IDD. Still, a need for more evidence of its application with students in special education and primarily mathematics was noted.

As a result, the aim of Study 2 was to evaluate (a) whether students with IDD attending special education in the UK would demonstrate improvements in mathematics, and particularly addition, following the introduction of PT, and (b) whether students with IDD who have moderate mathematical ability could equal or outperform their peers with fewer difficulties with their math skills. Students were divided into three groups, with one receiving PT and the other two acting as comparisons. A quasi-experimental design was used for five component skills across different learning channel sets, and a multiple baseline across participants design was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention on the composite skill. The intervention, which used the Minimum Celeration Line goal-setting procedure, led to a significant improvement in all skills, including addition, and this was associated with a large effect size; student performance met or exceeded that of their peers.

The aim of Study 3 was to evaluate the relationship of two learning channel sets, namely the See-Say and See-Write. Specifically, the study focused on (a) whether improvements in one learning channel set will generalise to another without direct training, (b) whether performance (i.e., frequency) and learning (i.e., celeration) across learning channel sets are different, and (c) whether the practice sequence of learning channel sets affects student outcomes. Participants received practice in the x7 and x8 tables across both channel sets, using the Personal Best goal-setting approach. A multiple treatments design, embedded in a multiple baseline across participants design, was used. Practice led to improvements that were maintained. Practice on one set affected performance on the other, and the order of practice was an important variable. The See-Say channel set led to better generalisation outcomes, while performance was stronger on the See-Write.

The aim of Study 4 was to compare the Minimum Celeration Line approach and the Personal Best approach and examine whether they produced different outcomes in terms of participants' performance (i.e., frequency) and learning (i.e., celeration) during their mathematical practice. Also, as with the previous empirical studies, this study aimed to gather more data regarding PT's effectiveness in producing educationally significant outcomes for students with IDD in special education. An adapted alternating treatments design with a control condition was embedded in a concurrent multiple baseline across participants design. Each approach was randomly allocated to either the multiplication/division (x ÷) table of 18 or 19, while no approach was allocated to the x÷ 14 table that acted as a control. Participants improved with both conditions and maintained their performance well, while improvements amongst participants allocated to the control condition were weak. The Personal Best approach was highlighted as slightly more effective in terms of average performance and more efficient in terms of timings needed to achieve criterion. No differences were identified in terms of learning rate (i.e., celeration) or performance on the mastery assessment (MESA).

The following conclusions were drawn from the combined findings. PT has accumulated encouraging evidence across different areas. Therefore, suggestions regarding its use should not be considered unfounded. However, more evidence is needed regarding its application with specific populations, such as students with IDD. The empirical studies within this thesis demonstrated that PT could indeed accelerate outcomes for this population. What is more, the studies highlighted that students' potential might be greater than typically considered as long as the instruction is tailored to their skillset and evidence-based strategies are used. However, more evidence is required of PT's general application and its components and the way they interact and affect outcomes. For example, more research is needed regarding learning channels or goal-setting procedures used within the PT system. Similarly, more research is needed on various concepts that are considered an integral part of PT, such as fluency and agility.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Langdon, Peter E.
Thesis advisor: Padden, Ciara
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100359
Uncontrolled keywords: Precision Teaching, Standard Celeration Chart, Fluency Training
Subjects: L Education
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2023 12:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Vostanis, Athanasios.

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