CARE Lab Works in Progress

Works in Progress


Measuring Teacher Talk and Student Behavior
During Mathematics Activities within a Sample of Preschool through Third Grade Children on the Autism Spectrum

Abstract. We described and investigated varying models of teacher talk directed toward autistic students within 96 special education mathematics activities. We also examined child behavior within mathematics contexts measured through observation and via teacher report. This detailed evaluation of teacher talk provides a promising means for gauging the quality of instructional talk as well as insight into the learning opportunities presented to and the experiences of elementary-aged autistic students within special education mathematics contexts. Tailoring professional development for educators that centers on talk as a targeted intervention is an area for further study.

Authors: Sparapani, N., Vega Garcia, J., Birkeneder, S., Towers, L., Bullen, J., Tseng, N., & Nunnally, A.D.

Social Network Support and Challenging Behaviors are Associated with Teachers’ Perceptions of Transition Success for their Students with Autism

This study examined teacher and student factors that contribute to teachers’ perception of the upcoming school transition for their student on the autism spectrum. A sample of 126 teachers across four sites in the United States completed surveys regarding their perception of the likelihood of success for their students’ upcoming transition. They were also asked to report on their students’ challenging classroom behaviors, their own experiences of burnout, and a social network survey about the people they relied on during their students’ transition. Results indicated that teachers with positive perceptions of their students’ upcoming transition experiences had larger support networks and identified fewer challenging behaviors in their student, suggesting that additional support may be needed for teachers, particularly for teachers of students on the spectrum who present more problem behaviors in the classroom.

Amanda D. Nunnally and colleagues, in preparation for publication

Preliminary Validation of an Observational Measure of Emotion Regulation for 15- to 22-year-old Males with Fragile X Syndrome

Emotion regulation (ER) is defined as capacity to manage physiological arousal and emotional states to match everyday situations. Individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS) report higher rates of anxiety, which have been attributed to challenges in ER. This study examined the construct validity of an observational measure of ER as outlined in the Classroom Measure of Active Engagement (CMAE) by examining associations with salivary alpha-amylase (SAA) readings, a physiological measure of anxiety. Participants included 28 males (Mage = 19.02) with FXS who were recruited as part of a longitudinal study. Video observations of the ADOS-2 and saliva samples were collected, and participants completed a battery assessments on cognitive, behavior, and anxiety symptoms. Trained raters coded ER using the ADOS-2 observations with high inter-rater agreement. Findings indicated a significant, positive correlation between emotion dysregulation and salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) readings (r = 0.634; p < 0.01), suggesting an association between ER and psychosocial stress expressed by the sAA recordings. These findings offer preliminary support for the validation of the ER construct outlined in the CMAE and substantiate the role of physiological arousal in ER.

Cameron Alexander, Nicole Sparapani, Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, Angela John Thurman, Leonard Abbeduto

Differences in Instructor Responsiveness and Student Participation between Special Education Teachers and Classroom Paraprofessionals Serving Preschool-3rd Grade Students with Autism  

mathThis study utilized an archival dataset of classroom video observations of paraprofessionals and teachers working with preschool-3rd grade students with autism. Videos had been coded for student and teacher behaviors as part of The Classroom Measure of Active Participation (Class-MAP; Sparapani et al., unpublished manual). A subset of 30 observations were examined to investigate the responsive language that teachers and paraprofessionals used during classroom activities. We found that teachers used significantly more responsive language than paraprofessionals.

Towers & Sparapani, in preparation for publication

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