Training pre-service teachers to implement instructional components of early intensive behavioral intervention via telemedicine and in-vivo instruction
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Schools across the United States of America experience shortages of special education teachers and teachers’ aides. This shortage limits the number of children with disabilities who can receive empirically supported educational services, and increases the number of special education positions filled by personnel with limited or no formal training in pedagogy. A logical solution to reduce this shortage is to train more teachers. However, it is not always economically feasible to travel to or from rural areas for teacher training. Technological advancements can eliminate or decrease barriers for teachers to access training from instructors with relevant content expertise from a distance. Unfortunately, there is a limited amount of empirical research in the educational sciences specific to training teachers, aides, or staff using advanced telemedicine technology through the worldwide web. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of using behavioral skills training via telemedicine or in-vivo to teach undergraduate pre-service teachers to implement empirically supported components commonly used in special education and early intervention instructional contexts. In the current study, seven undergraduate students were trained to implement procedures commonly used with discrete trial teaching: (1) a multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment, (2) setting up the instructional context, (3) antecedent instructional prompts, and (4) consequences for accurate and inaccurate responding. Results suggested that telemedicine training was as efficacious and efficient as in-vivo training. Five of the six participants who completed the maintenance phase of the study showed high levels of maintenance of the skills taught, and the skills generalized to a more complex teaching task regardless of the modality of instruction. Finally, participants reported high acceptability ratings across training modalities, but three out of the six participants who completed a post-completion questionnaire reported a preference for in-vivo instruction, while the other three participants did not have a preference.