Learning to effectively implement constant time delay procedures to teach spelling.
In today's public schools, extreme diversity exists among students' academic achievement, behavioral characteristics, learning styles, and cultural experiences. These differences often complicate the delivery of effective instruction, especially for educators working with students with learning disabilities (LD). Since students with LD share many appearances and behaviors with their peers who do not have LD, they are often taught with the same traditional teaching methods, such as round-robin reading, basal reading exercises, and weekly spelling quizzes. However, these activities do not provide the structure and explicit instruction that students with LD need (Stevens & Schuster, 1987). Unfortunately, when teachers realize that traditional approaches are not effective, they are often unaware of alternatives, sometimes leading to inappropriate use of trial-and-error techniques at the students' expense (Carnine, Silbert, & Kameenui, 1997). A more systematic, data-based approach to the selection of instructional methods must be implemented to meet the needs of students with LD (Stevens & Schuster, 1987).
When selecting instructional strategies, teachers should look for an instructional match to student behavior (Slavin, 1987), a rapid pace of delivering instruction (Carnine et al., 1997; Darch & Gersten, 1985), and advanced cuing and prompting (Englert, 1984). Additionally, teachers should provide instruction that ensures active engagement in the learning activity, high levels of success for all students, a systematic approach to introducing new concepts and operations, adequate review on a regular basis to promote mastery, and immediate feedback for correct and incorrect responses (Brophy & Good, 1986; Snell, 1993). These basic principles are vital for students with and without LD. Several effective teaching strategies and practices have been developed that incorporate the principles of effective instruction, such as the response-prompting strategies of least prompts and progressive and constant time delay (Doyle, Wolery, Ault, & Gast, 1988).
Both progressive time delay (PTD) and constant time delay (CTD) are considered near-errorless learning methods by transferring stimulus control from a controlling prompt to a target stimulus. In these procedures, prompts are systematically faded by inserting time between the presentation of the target stimulus and the controlling prompt (Stevens & Schuster, 1987). The difference between PTD and CTD is in the time inserted between the presentation of the target stimulus and the controlling prompt. That is, both PTD and CTD begin with a 0-second delay between the presentation of the target stimulus and the controlling prompt. After students reliably respond correctly with a O-second delay, based on a predetermined number of correct trials, a set amount of time is inserted between the presentation of the target stimulus and the controlling prompt. With PTD the delay increases gradually. As students become successful with each delay, the delay gets longer. With CTD, after students are successful with 0-second delay, a fixed delay (e.g., 5 seconds) is introduced and remains throughout the instruction. The delay provides an opportunity for the student to respond before the controlling prompt is presented or to wait if unsure of the correct response (Stevens & Schuster, 1987). The time delay procedure minimizes student error and provides consistent opportunities for reinforcement on all related correct responses (Stevens & Schuster, 1988).
Time delay was initially described by Touchette (1971), using prompting strategies to teach letter-form discrimination to adolescents with severe mental retardation. Since then several researchers have successfully used CTD with students with severe mental retardation (Collins, Gast, Ault, & Wolery, 1991; Collins, Schuster, & Nelson, 1992; Hall, Schuster, Wolery, Gast, & Doyle, 1992; Zhang, Gast, Horvat, & Dattilo, 1995). In addition, CTD has been effective in teaching students with moderate mental retardation (Browder, Hines, McCarthy, & Fees, 1984; Chandler, Schuster, & Stevens, 1993; Gast, Winterling, Wolery, & Farmer, 1992; Griffen, Wolery, & Schuster, 1992; Koury & Browder, 1986; McDonnell & Ferguson, 1989; Miller & Test, 1989; Wall & Gast, 1997) and students with mild disabilities, including learning and behavior disorders (Cybriwsky & Schuster, 1990; Keel & Gast, 1992; Koscinski & Gast, 1993; Mattingly & Bott, 1990; Stevens & Schuster, 1987; Winterling, 1990; Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).
Constant time delay has also been found effective in teaching numerous skills, including sight word reading (Gast, Ault, Wolery, Doyle, & Belanger, 1988; Koury & Browder, 1986; Wolery et al., 1990); spelling (Gast, Doyle, Wolery, Ault, & Baklarz, 1991; Johnson, 1977; Keel & Gast, 1992; Kinney, Stevens, & Schuster, 1988; Stevens & Schuster, 1987; Telecsan, Slaton, & Stevens, 1999; Winterling, 1990); multiplication facts (Cybriwsky & Schuster, 1990; Koscinski & Gast, 1993; Mattingly & Bott, 1990; Williams & Collins, 1994); manual sign production (Bennett, Gast, Wolery, & Schuster, 1986; Browder, Morris, & Snell, 1981; Kleinert & Gast, 1982); leisure skills (Zhang et al., 1995); and safety skills (Gast, Collins, Wolery, & Jones, 1993; Winterling, Gast, Wolery, & Farmer, 1992).
Stevens and Schuster (1987) examined the effectiveness of CTD to teach written spelling words to an 11-year-old student with a learning disability whose full-scale Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) was 115, with a verbal scale score of 122 and a performance scale score of 104. This student was enrolled in a special education resource room for students with learning disabilities for four years prior to the intervention and was receiving special services for written expression. In addition, the student received private tutoring in written language for three years. The student had a severe spelling deficit, which qualified him for special education services.
Using a 5-s delay procedure in a tutorial environment, the student's tutor, a certified special education teacher, also the second author of the article, taught the student 15 spelling words divided into three sets. The procedure included an initial word screening and probe condition to assess the student's skill acquisition. Training began on the first word set with a O-s time delay between the target stimulus and the controlling prompt. After 10 trials of 0-s delay, a 5-s delay was inserted before the controlling prompt was presented. Five possible types of responses were noted during the instructional sessions: (a) correct anticipation, (b) correct wait, (c) nonwait error, (d) wait error, and (e) no-response error. Descriptions of the five types of responses are presented below in the CTD Procedures section. Acquisition criterion was established at 100% correct anticipations for 5 consecutive blocks of 10 trials each on a continuous reinforcement (CRF) schedule followed by 5 consecutive blocks of 10 trials each on a variable ratio (VR) 3 schedule. Once criterion was met for the first word set, a probe condition was implemented on the next word set. This probe procedure was repeated on the third word set once criterion was met for the second word set. The results indicated the student correctly spelled 14 out of 15 words (93.3%) and maintained the correct spelling of the words over a two-month period.
Generalization was assessed as part of both pretesting and posttesting. In both cases generalization was assessed by having the student write sentences that contained the spelling words and only checking for accuracy of the spelling words. During pretest, the student correctly spelled 1 of the 15 words (6.6%) and during the posttest generalization the student correctly spelled 14 of the 15 words (93.3%). This study demonstrates the effectiveness of time delay for teaching spelling that generalizes to different tasks.
While the literature supports the effectiveness of CTD, little research has been conducted on training teachers to effectively implement the procedure. Over the last two decades, research has focused on identifying the best practices in special education, leading to a growing concern that research knowledge is not linked closely to classroom practice (Vaughn, Klingner, & Hughes, 2000). For example, instructional strategies that have been effective in research implementations frequently are implemented incorrectly in the classroom (Gersten, Vaughn, Deshler, & Schiller, 1997; Pressley & El-Dinary, 1997).
There are several reasons why strategies are not implemented correctly in the classroom. Teachers may not accept a new strategy; they may not have had a voice in adopting the strategy; they may not receive any training; or they may receive inadequate initial training that does not include knowledge about the strategy, or opportunities to practice the strategy in an authentic learning situation. In addition, teachers may not receive ongoing technical support with follow-up training when necessary (Pressley & El-Dinary, 1997). Training at the preservice level needs to include knowledge of the strategy and opportunities to practice this knowledge in a situation-specific environment (Blanton, 1992), otherwise, teachers are not likely to sustain the implementation over time (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1998).
Unfortunately, while many graduate and undergraduate teacher-training programs introduce strategies such as CTD, a gap still exists between what researchers learn and what practitioners access and use in the classroom. This may be because research often focuses on the effectiveness of the procedure being studied, with little emphasis on training in the use of the procedure. For example, while Stevens and Schuster (1987) demonstrated the effectiveness of CTD, they did not provide information on how a teacher could be trained to use CTD. (They did not need to train a teacher because the second author was already trained in CTD and served as the tutor who implemented the procedure.) Without sufficient training information it is difficult for practitioners to learn and to use research-based strategies effectively.
Only two CTD studies were identified in the literature that addressed teacher-training issues (Browder & Shear, 1996; Wolery, Anthony, Snyder, Werts, & Katzenmeyer, 1997). Browder and Shear (1996) provided two training sessions to two teachers to encourage treatment integrity and obtain fluency on the drill sequence. The authors provided written instructions, verbal descriptions, modeling, and role-play. However, examples of the training were not provided, and the authors did not mention if initially the teachers were familiar with the CTD procedure. In the second study, Wolery et al. (1997) evaluated the effects of a training package for three elementary general education teachers using the CTD procedure. The package consisted of an eight-page training manual, a 30- to 45-minute individual training session, and feedback on implementation of the CTD procedure for five days. The teachers reported that the written material was helpful and the training was easy to follow. However, samples from the written materials and specific information on the CTD training procedures were not provided.
Constant time delay procedures have been implemented for a number of academic skills with a diverse student population. The body of evidence suggests these procedures are effective for teaching both academic and leisure skills to students with disabilities and to peers without disabilities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher-training procedures in an effort to help close the gap between what we learn from research and what teachers are able to use in the classroom. An additional purpose was to replicate the research on spelling conducted by Stevens and Schuster (1987). Replicating their findings would suggest that our training procedures were effective and could be used by others to achieve the same outcomes as Stevens and Schuster.
The resource teacher participating in this study had been teaching in the special education classroom for six years at the participating middle school in northeast Georgia. Overall, she had 10 years' experience in special education and was certified in behavior disorders and interrelated special education. She was working on her master's degree in special education. Her preparation as a special education teacher consisted of course-work relating to theoretical and foundational elements of special education instruction, assessment and instructional methodologies, and practical experiences. She had no prior knowledge of or training on the CTD procedure.
A 12-year-old, sixth-grade male from a lower socio-economic family also participated in the study. According to the Kauffman Battery of Intelligence Tests (KBIT) (Kauffman & Kauffman, 1990), the student's IQ composite was 90. His performance on the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (Wechsler, 1991) for basic reading was 76, math reasoning 96, spelling 75, reading comprehension 68, and the reading and writing composite was 70. His strengths appeared to be in math composite, with weaknesses in basic reading and writing skills. The student had been enrolled in a special education resource room for students with LD since the third grade. At the time of the study, he spent two hours per day in the resource room receiving instruction in reading, writing, and spelling.
Prior to this investigation, the special education teacher was using a traditional approach to spelling consisting of teacher-directed instruction (e.g., sound-symbol correspondence, word patterns, rhyming patterns, vowel-changing patterns, dictionary skills, and word usage) (Heron, Okyere, & Miller, 1991). Students received spelling instruction 15 minutes per day (Monday through Thursday) and took a spelling test during the second half of class on Thursday. A typical spelling lesson involved introducing approximately 12 words on Monday. The teacher visually displayed each word on the chalkboard and pronounced each word. Students worked independently on copying the words three times each, alphabetizing the word list, using the spelling words in sentences, and completing crossword puzzles and word search puzzles. A spelling review game was conducted at the beginning of Thursday's class prior to the spelling test. The class was divided into two competing teams and students took turns orally spelling words dictated by the teacher. Students who spelled their words correctly were given the opportunity to shoot a foam ball into a basket for additional points. The winning team members were rewarded with praise and applause from the opposing team. The spelling tests were conducted after the review game. Here the special education teacher dictated the 12 words to the entire class and used each word in a sentence while the students wrote each word on paper. Students exchanged papers with another student and scored correct and incorrect responses as the teacher repeated dictation of each word and orally spelled and wrote each word on the chalkboard.
Instruction took place in the sixth-grade special education resource classroom, which included one special education teacher with eight students classified as having LD, behavior disorders (BD), of mild intellectual disabilities (MID). The CTD procedure was implemented at a table (2.5 x 6 feet) located on the left side of the classroom (25 x 30 feet). The teacher was seated directly across from the student, facing him and the other class members to monitor behaviors. The students who were not participating in this study were engaged in independent academic tasks or center activities related to the language arts curriculum while the target student received special training.
Training materials for CTD included 3 x 5 inch white unruled index cards with the target words printed in black marker in lower-case manuscript letters. Time delay data sheets (see Appendix A) were provided for the teacher, and a stack of lined paper strips (8 cm x 21.5 cm) and pencils were provided for the student to print his responses.
Teacher training procedures. Prior to any formal training, the teacher was given a copy of Stevens and Schuster's (1987, 1988) articles on time delay procedures to introduce the concepts. After the teacher had read the articles, the researcher conducted two training sessions where she answered the teacher's questions about CTD procedures and described the steps for using CTD with 0-s and 5-s delay intervals. The researcher then role-played the procedures with the teacher to demonstrate the correct wait and anticipated responses using the lesson plan for zero-second and nonzero-second delay trials from Stevens and Schuster (1988). These lesson plans provided an exact script for the teacher to follow in implementing the CTD procedure.
After the researcher demonstrated the procedure with a set of five words, the teacher practiced implementing the CTD with the researcher taking the role of a student. The teacher was instructed to count silently 1000-1, 1000-2, and so on, to the count of 5 to consistently wait the 5-s time delay. An additional count of 5 was implemented after the presentation of the controlling prompt to allow a total of 10 seconds for completed written responses. Specific directions and demonstrations were provided on data-collection techniques and recording the correct and incorrect wait and anticipated responses using the time delay data sheet developed by Stevens and Schuster (1988). To provide practice, the researcher sometimes responded correctly and at other times incorrectly both as anticipations and as waits. Role-playing sessions with the researcher as student continued until the teacher demonstrated mastery of the CTD procedures.
A teacher behavioral check sheet (see Appendix B) was used to determine the teacher's accuracy in implementing the time delay procedures during role-play. Once the teacher reached 100% consistency during two consecutive role-play sessions, a student was selected to practice with the teacher. The student functioned at a similar level in spelling as the identified participant of this study to provide the teacher with a more authentic practice session. Again, the teacher behavioral check sheet was used to determine accuracy in following the time delay procedures while working with a student. Once the teacher reached 100% consistency on the procedures with the student during two consecutive role-plays, experimental conditions were implemented with the student participating in the study.
Screening. A screening test was conducted prior to the study to identify 15 target words from the Herman Reading Series (Herman, 1930), as the target student was receiving reading instruction from this curriculum. Seventy-five words from lessons the student had not yet encountered were originally selected from this series. During each of three screening sessions, the teacher dictated all 75 words to the student. A correct response was defined as the student correctly printing the word on a strip of paper. The teacher's request remained consistent with the command "Spell <insert target word here>." Corrective feedback and praise were not given during the screening of the words. When the student incorrectly spelled a word during all three screening sessions, the word was considered appropriate for training. Using this procedure, 48 words were identified as appropriate for training. From those 48 words 15 were selected randomly and placed into Set A, Set B, or Set C. Table 1 lists the targeted words in their assigned sets.
Probe procedures. Three probe sessions were conducted after the word screening and before instruction on the first word set. In order to assess maintenance of the instructed words and to identify any change in the uninstructed words, three probe sessions were conducted of all 15 words (three word sets) after the student reached criterion for each word set. During probe trials the teacher gave the task request "Spell <insert target word here>" and the student printed the word on an individual paper strip. Correct responses were recorded when the student correctly spelled the target word on the strip of paper within 10 seconds after presentation of the task request. A response was also correct when the student initially misspelled a word, but self-corrected it within 10 seconds. Errors were recorded on the data sheet when the student incorrectly spelled the target word on the strip of paper. An error was also recorded when the student did not complete the spelling of the target word within 10 seconds after presentation of the task request "Spell <insert target word here>" or did not attempt to spell the target word. During the probe sessions, reinforcement in the form of verbal praise was provided for correct responses, incorrect responses were ignored and the next trial was immediately presented to the student.
Constant time delay procedures. Instruction on the first word set was provided after the screening and three probe sessions with all three word sets (15 words). One instructional session occurred each day, Tuesday through Friday, every week. An average instructional session consisted of 20 training trials during which the five words in a set were presented at least four times. Each time the five words were presented, they were shuffled before being presented again. During the initial instructional sessions, a O-s time delay was presented. The task request ("Spell <insert target word here>") was presented to the student, followed immediately by the controlling prompt (i.e., the word card). Criterion for mastery was 100% correct for four consecutive sessions. Subsequent sessions for that word set were presented at a 5-s delay, using the task request "Spell <insert target word here>."
Five types of student responses were recorded on the time delay data sheet (see Appendix A). A correct anticipated response was recorded when the student began to print the word before the controlling prompt was presented and correctly spelled the target word within 10 seconds after presentation of the task request. A correct wait response was recorded when the student wrote a word correctly after the controlling prompt was presented, provided he finished writing the word within 10 seconds after the presentation of the task request. Error responses were recorded as nonwait, wait, or no response. A nonwait error was recorded when the student printed the word incorrectly before the controlling prompt was presented. A wait error was recorded when the student printed the target word incorrectly after the controlling prompt was presented. Finally, a no-response error was recorded when the student did not attempt to print the word within 10 seconds following the presentation of the task request.
All correct responses were immediately followed by descriptive verbal praise (e.g., "excellent spelling" or "correct spelling") on a CRF schedule. Nonwait errors were followed by the teacher saying, "Wait for the word card if you don't know." Wait errors were followed by the teacher saying, "Look at the card carefully." Once the student reached 100% correct anticipations on all trials for two consecutive sessions, a variable-ratio (VR) 3 schedule of reinforcement was implemented on that word set. Under the V[R.sub.3] schedule, an average of every three correct responses was reinforced. The criterion for mastery for each word set was 100% correct anticipations for three consecutive sessions on a V[R.sub.3] schedule. Three probe sessions were implemented before training began on the next word set.
Maintenance procedures. Maintenance was assessed during the probe sessions before and after training on each word set. Probes occurred throughout the study to demonstrate maintenance of instructed words and no acquisition of uninstructed words.
Generalization procedures. Generalization across tasks was assessed for each word set one week after the student had reached criterion for that word set. The second observer dictated five sentences containing the target words from the word set just mastered. The student wrote the sentences, but only the target spelling words in these sentences were scored. This procedure was repeated after mastery of each word set.
A second assessment of generalization was conducted two weeks after the student reached criterion on the third word set. The special education teacher dictated 15 sentences containing the target words from all three word sets. While the student wrote entire sentences, only the spelling of the target word in each sentence was scored.
The experimental design was a multiple-probe design across behaviors. This design, used by Stevens and Schuster (1987), is most appropriate to test the effectiveness of the time delay procedure with three functionally similar yet independent behaviors of the same participant in the same setting (Richards, Taylor, Ramasamy, & Richards, 1999).
Reliability checks were conducted by the primary author familiar with the time delay procedures. Checks occurred at least once per week throughout the study, for approximately 40% of the sessions in each phase. The second observer recorded each student response as correct or incorrect and then compared each with the teacher's record of correct and incorrect responses. Interobserver agreement was calculated using a point-by-point method (Tawney & Gast, 1984) in which the number of agreements was divided by the number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplied by 100.
Data were collected on treatment integrity for approximately 25% of the sessions in each phase. The following teacher behaviors were assessed on each trial: presenting the discriminative stimuli, waiting the specified response interval before delivering the controlling prompt during the 0-s and 5-s time delay, recording correct and incorrect responses, and delivering reinforcement according to the predetermined schedule (see Appendix B). On each trial the teacher was to complete four planned behaviors for a total of 80 planned behaviors across 20 trials. Treatment integrity was calculated by dividing the number of observed teacher behaviors by the number of planned behaviors (80) and multiplying by 100.
Prior to implementation of the study, a social validity questionnaire was completed by the special education teacher and the student to examine their satisfaction level with the current spelling instruction. The special education teacher independently completed the questionnaire prior to receiving information on the CTD procedure (see Appendix C). For the student, the researcher read the questions and wrote his responses to ensure clarity of the questions and accuracy of the responses. The teacher and student questionnaires differed slightly in the wording of the questions to reflect their roles in the CTD procedure. Specifically, the teacher's version focused on the teacher's perceptions of how well students were benefiting from the spelling lessons and on her willingness to learn new strategies. The student questionnaire consisted of five questions relating to his perception of his spelling ability and his satisfaction with his current spelling instruction.
After the final generalization session, the special education teacher independently completed the teacher's revised version of the questionnaire that reflected her satisfaction with the CTD procedure and her willingness to continue using CTD (see Appendix D). The researcher read a revised social validity questionnaire to the student to reflect his satisfaction with the CTD procedure.
The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher-training procedure on the implementation of constant time delay; therefore, treatment integrity data are presented first. To calculate treatment integrity, the second observer recorded the teacher's behaviors in relation to the procedural specifications during 25% of the sessions. A procedural data sheet listed six specific teacher behaviors, including presenting correct word with task request, waiting zero seconds before presenting the controlling prompt, waiting five seconds before presenting the controlling prompt, recording correct responses, recording incorrect responses, and reinforcing according to the predetermined schedule. For each trial the teacher needed to complete four of these behaviors. To calculate treatment integrity, the secondary observer recorded the presence or absence of these behaviors across all trials in the observation. The teacher followed the procedural specifications with 100% accuracy.
A secondary purpose of the study was to replicate the CTD research conducted by Stevens and Schuster (1987) as a test of the effectiveness of our teacher-training procedures. Figure 1 presents the probe, instructional, and generalization data across word sets, recording the percentage of correct responses (anticipations and waits) for each session. During Probe I the student did not spell any words correctly. Training began on Set A words implementing a O-s time delay. The student reached 100% criterion for four consecutive sessions in six sessions. During the 5-s time delay, criterion was met at 100% anticipations on two consecutive sessions with the CRF schedule in four sessions. During the V[R.sub.3] schedule, the student reached criterion at 100% for three consecutive sessions in the first three sessions.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Probe II, conducted for Sets A, B, and C, revealed a maintained 100% correct for Set A, and 0% correct for Sets Band C. With O-s delay, the student reached 100% criterion on Set B for four consecutive sessions in five sessions. During the 5-s time delay, criterion was reached at 100% on two consecutive sessions with the CRF schedule in three sessions. With the V[R.sub.3] schedule, the student reached criterion of 100% for three consecutive sessions in the first three sessions.
Probe III was conducted for Sets A, B, and C; this revealed an average of 98.3% (95% to 100%) for Set A, 100% for Set B, and 0% for Set C. With O-s delay, the student reached 100% criterion for four consecutive sessions in the first four sessions on Set C. During the 5-s time delay procedure the student's initial performance ranged from 15% to 95% during the week prior to spring break. The student reached criterion at 100% on two consecutive sessions the first two sessions after spring break. During the V[R.sub.3] schedule, the student reached criterion at 100% for three consecutive sessions in the first three sessions.
In the final probe condition, Probe IV, the student correctly spelled each word set with a mean accuracy rate of 93.3% (80% to 100). While he failed to maintain 100% accuracy for all three word sets, he demonstrated a significant improvement in his spelling performance compared to the initial probes prior to the time delay instruction.
Maintenance on each word set was assessed throughout the study during probe sessions. The student maintained an average of 97.2% (80% to 100%) on Set A as demonstrated in Probes II, III, and IV after training. The student maintained an average of 96.7% (80% to 100%) on Set B during Probes III and IV. The average for Set C was 93.3% (80% to 100%) as demonstrated from Probe IV.
Generalization across tasks was assessed one week after the student reached criterion for each word set. The student correctly spelled 80% (four out of five), 60% (three out of five), and 100% of word Sets A, B, and C, respectively. A final generalization across tasks was assessed for all three word sets two weeks after reaching criterion for Set C. The student correctly spelled 100% of the words from Sets A and C, and 80% of the words from Set B.
Efficiency data are summarized in Table 2, which presents the number of sessions to criterion for each word set, the number of trials to criterion, the number of errors, and the amount of instructional time for each word set. The number of sessions to criterion totaled 37, the minimum number of sessions necessary to reach criterion was 27 (9 for each word set). The student learned Set A in 260 trials with four errors and Set B in 220 trials, also with four errors. While he took the most trials to learn Set C (285), he did not make any errors while learning this set. The total amount of instructional time to criterion on all three word sets was 6 hours and 20 minutes. For Sets A and B, each of the five words was presented four times each session. For Set C, the five words were presented five times each session during the initial 5-s condition (CRF). The subsequent sessions presented the five words four times each session. This additional practice was warranted, because of the interruption of spring break during Set C.
Interobserver agreement was calculated using a point-by-point method (Tawney & Gast, 1984) in which the number of agreements was divided by the number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplied by 100. The primary and secondary observer recorded 100% agreement in the data-recording procedures across 40% of the sessions in each phase.
Prior to the investigation, the teacher noted she was satisfied with her current spelling lessons, but she was always willing to try new approaches. She indicated that her students retained the spelling words only long enough for the test and that there was no generalization. The teacher also commented that her students were well below grade level in their spelling abilities and could possibly benefit from a different approach. The student reported that he was not a good speller and could not spell as well as the other students in the class. But he indicated that he enjoyed the current spelling lessons that involved segmenting and sound blending of words. He also noted that he thought there was a better way to learn how to spell and was willing to try a new approach.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the teacher reported she was very pleased with the outcome and was surprised at how easy the CTD procedure was to implement. Furthermore, she planned to continue to use the procedure and to include more students during the spelling sessions. The student indicated he was a good speller and could spell better than anyone in the class. He reported that he enjoyed the new spelling lessons because he received a lot of attention and praise from the teacher. Additionally, he felt better about himself because he did not make many errors in spelling.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher-training procedures in an effort to help close the gap between what we learn from research and what teachers are able to use in the classroom. An additional purpose was to replicate the research on spelling conducted by Stevens and Schuster (1987) as a means of demonstrating that our training procedures were effective and could be used by others.
A unique component addressed in this study is the teacher-training procedure. Previous studies have reported very little about the training procedures involved in preparing teachers to implement time delay procedures. Reporting teacher-training procedures provides important information for replication, for addressing the challenges of implementing research-based procedures in classroom settings, and for reducing the gap between research and practice. The teacher-training procedures used in this study included written information on constant time delay (the 1987 and 1988 Stevens & Schuster articles), question-and-answer opportunities throughout two training sessions, and three levels of role-playing. While Browder and Shear (1996) reported role-playing as part of their teacher training, they did not offer any specifics about the role-playing procedures.
In this study the researcher first role-played with the teacher as student. Afterwards, they switched roles, and finally, the teacher role-played with a student whose spelling skills were similar to those of the participant in this study. In each of the role-playing situations, practice continued until 100% criterion was met on the teacher behavior check sheet during each training session. The total training time was approximately one hour per session for two training sessions. These training procedures resulted in 100% accuracy on treatment integrity observed during 25% of the sessions. Teacher training is a time-consuming process, and strategies requiring a great deal of training time are often avoided in staff development programs. The ease with which the procedure was taught and successfully implemented suggests that it may offer options for other teachers and other content areas in both special and general education classrooms.
The results of this study indicate the 5-s CTD procedure was effective in teaching the student to spell 15 target words. These results are consistent with those of the Stevens and Schuster (1987) study, in which 14 out of 15 target words were learned. In addition, correct responding was maintained over time and generalized to another task. These findings suggest that the training procedure outlined above is effective in preparing a teacher to use CTD.
This study revealed findings on skill acquisition that are similar to those found by Stevens and Schuster (1987). The main difference between the two studies is the number of sessions to reach criterion under the two different reinforcement schedules. After the 0-s delay, both studies required 100 trials to criterion. Stevens and Schuster required 100% correct anticipations for five consecutive blocks of 10 trials on a CRF schedule, followed by 5 consecutive blocks of 10 trials on a V[R.sub.3] schedule. By comparison, the current study required 100% correct anticipations for two consecutive sessions of 20 trials each on a CRF schedule, followed by 100% correct anticipations for three consecutive sessions of 20 trials each on a V[R.sub.3] schedule. During generalization, the Stevens and Schuster (1987) study reported the student spelled 93.3% of the words (14/15) correctly in a posttest session. The current study reported 80%, 60%, and 100%, respectively, across word sets during the initial generalization and 93.3% of the words during the final generalization session.
The modeling provided by the time delay procedure resulted in a low percentage of errors during practice. While learning Set C, the student did not make any errors, and he only made four errors while learning each of the other word sets. This is particularly significant to the student in this study because of his long history of spelling errors and academic failure. At the completion of the study he expressed a positive outlook on his spelling skills and commented that he enjoyed the program and was encouraged by the positive remarks from his teacher. His reaction supports Cybriwsky and Schuster's (1990) finding that correct responses followed by positive teacher interactions for reinforcement are highly motivating for students.
As noted in the efficiency data, it took our student 6 hours and 20 minutes to master the 15 words. Given his history of difficulty learning to spell, the teacher was pleased that he was able to learn the words in that amount of time with so few errors. In addition, she also was pleased with the time delay procedure because of the minimal teacher preparation and the ease of implementing the procedure in the classroom setting. These reactions are all similar to results cited by Keel, Dangel, and Owens (1999), Stevens and Schuster (1987), and Wolery and Gast (1984).
The added advantage of minimal teacher preparation supports Stevens and Schuster's (1987) and Wolery and Gast's (1984) findings. Preparation generally includes a set of flash cards used throughout the probe and training sessions and a data sheet for record keeping. The minimal preparation time is beneficial to both special and general education teachers because of their limited planning time.
While Stevens and Schuster (1987) demonstrated the effectiveness of CTD to teach written spelling words, they did not train a teacher in the use of CTD as the second author served as the tutor in their study. In order to put effective instructional procedures in the hands of teachers in a way that allows them to successfully implement them, it is important that research reports not only the effectiveness of instructional procedures, but also how to train teachers in using them. As noted earlier, instructional strategies that have been effective in research studies frequently are implemented incorrectly in the classroom (Gersten et al., 1997; Pressley & El-Dinary, 1997).
To ensure effective implementation, we need to know how to train teachers. Only two studies were found that included information about training teachers to conduct CTD; however, neither provided sufficient training information to allow replication. This study extends the knowledge base on CTD by including a specific teacher-training procedure that successfully prepared a teacher naive about CTD. The effectiveness of the teacher-training procedure is evident in that the findings are similar to those of Stevens and Schuster (1987), who directly implemented the CTD procedure rather than teaching it to a classroom teacher.
One common problem with learning new procedures is that teachers often do not sustain the implementation over time (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1998). Follow-up with the teacher in this study revealed that she continues to use CTD to teach spelling to other students with learning disabilities, as well as students with behavior disorders and students with mild intellectual disorders. Additionally, she has plans to use CTD to teach multiplication facts to small groups of students within an inclusive classroom setting. When teachers are well trained in a procedure and the procedure is effective, they are more likely to continue to use it.
The results of this study and other research cited throughout this article indicate that the constant time delay procedures are effective in teaching academic skills to students with learning disabilities. While the procedures were effective for teaching spelling words to this student, generalization of the results is limited due to the inclusion of only one participant. Future studies should involve more than one student in both individual and small-group situations.
Another limitation of the study involves maintenance of the words learned. The final probe sessions were conducted following the acquisition of the third word set to monitor skill acquisition on all word sets. Further follow-up on acquisition of the spelling words would strengthen our confidence in the long-term effects of the time delay procedure. Unfortunately, due to end-of-school-year time restraints, a long-term follow-up was not possible.
The results of this study provide several implications for future research. For teacher training in the CTD procedures, implications include examining the effectiveness of these teacher-training procedures with a group of teachers. In addition, future research should investigate the effectiveness of training general education teachers in the use of CTD, and possibly having teachers train students to implement CTD with each other.
Implications for future research in CTD to teach spelling include an examination of the effectiveness of the procedure for students with LD in the general education classroom. Future studies should also determine if five sessions of 10 trials each are as effective as five sessions of 20 trials each for learning spelling words (Cuvo, Ashley, Marso, Zhang, & Fry, 1995). Further, additional research needs to determine if reaching the criterion of two consecutive sessions of 100% correct during the 5-s delay with CRF is sufficient. After meeting this criterion, our student did not make any errors. This suggests that the requirement of three consecutive sessions at 100% correct during V[R.sub.3] may be unnecessary and that CTD has the potential to be more efficient than demonstrated in this study.
APPENDIX A: Time Delay Data Sheet
APPENDIX B: Teacher Behavioral Check Sheet
APPENDIX C: Social Validity Questionnaire
1. Are you satisfied with your spelling lessons?
2. Do you think your students learn how to spell words from your lessons?
3. Would you like to learn a new strategy in spelling?
4. Do you think your students would benefit from a different approach to spelling?
5. Are your students making progress in spelling?
6. Are your students at grade level in their spelling?
1. Do you think you are a good speller?
2. Do you enjoy the spelling lessons in class?
3. Do you think there is a better way to learn how to spell?
4. Would you like to learn another way to be a better speller?
5. Do you spell as well as others in your class?
APPENDIX D: Revised Social Validity Questionnaire
1. Were you satisfied with the CTD spelling lessons?
2. Do you think your student learned how to spell words from the CTD lessons?
3. Are you pleased with the student's spelling ability after the CTD lessons?
4. Would you continue to use the CTD with other students in your class?
5. Were you satisfied with the training you received on CTD?
6. Were the CTD sessions manageable in your classroom setting?
1. Do you think you are a good speller?
2. Do you enjoy the spelling lessons in class?
3. Do you spell as well as others in your class?
4. Did you enjoy the spelling lessons with the printed cards?
5. Would you like to continue your spelling lessons with the printed cards?
Table 1 Targeted Spelling Words Set A Set B Set C begin trap best touch bench must hospital print lunch never shelf trust gift chips important Table 2 Sessions, Trials, Errors, and Instructional Time to Criterion for Each Word Set Word Set Sessions Trials Errors Time (hr:min.) Set A 13 260 4 2:10 Set B 11 220 4 1:50 Set C 13 285 0 2:20 Total 37 765 8 6:20 Mean 12.3 255 2.66 2:07
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Requests for reprints should be addressed to: Trudie Hughes, College of Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303.
TRUDIE A. HUGHES is a doctoral student and temporary instructor, Georgia State University.
LAURA D. FREDRICK, Ph.D., is associate professor, Georgia State University.
* MARIE C. KEEL, Ph.D., was an associate professor, Georgia State University. She passed away before the publication of this article.
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|Author:||Keel, Marie C.|
|Publication:||Learning Disability Quarterly|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2002|
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