Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


46th Annual Convention; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #176
Training Teachers in Evidence-Based Practices to Improve the Behavior and Academic Functioning of Students in Iceland
Sunday, May 24, 2020
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: EDC/TBA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Anna-Lind Petursdottir (School of Education, University of Iceland)

In Iceland, teachers have had a strong preference for teaching methods based on construcitivist beliefs, over methods based on direct transmission beliefs (e.g. OECD, 2009). Also, Icelandic teachers consider discipline and students with behavior problems to be one of the most challenging aspect of their jobs. In this symposium we will present recent research regarding the implementation of evidence-based practices to improve the behavior and academic functioning of students in Iceland. Harpa Oskarsdottir and Zuilma Gabriela Sigurdardottir will present a group comparison study assessing the effects of Direct Instruction and fluency building on the reading performance of students in special education. Gudrun Björg Ragnarsdottir will discuss 25 case studies conducted by graduate students receiving training in implementing explicit instruction and fluency building to improve the reading performance of their elementary students. Anna-Lind Petursdottir and Margret Sigmarsdottir will end the symposium by presenting data on changes in students persistent behavior problems and academic engagement following function-based interventions implemented by graduate students as part of training in an university course. Each presentation will include a discussion of the implications of the data and considerations for implementation of evidence-based strategies in collaboration with teachers who have limited knowledge in the area.

Reading instruction using direct instruction and fluency training in special education in 4th to 7th grade in Iceland
HARPA ÓSKARSDÓTTIR (University of Iceland), Zuilma Gabriela Sigurdardottir (University of Iceland)
Abstract: Direct Instruction (DI) is an evidence-based and empirically tested teaching method that has been found to be very effective in English-speaking countries. DI has been especially effective when combined with fluency training methods. These methods are not generally in use in Iceland although dozens of single-case experiments have indicated that they are very effective when psychology students have used them with special education students. In this project, a group comparison was undertaken to study the effects of trained teachers using DI and fluency building in reading instruction on the reading performance of students in special education over 2,5 school years. Participants were in total 16 students in 4th-7th grade in three comparable elementary schools in Iceland, one had the experimental group, the other two schools had the comparison group. Performance in reading was evaluated and comparisons were made within the experimental and comparison groups at the beginning and end of each school year and between the experimental and comparison groups. Results show that students in the experimental group had better outcome on every variable tested at the end of the study, they read faster, made fewer errors, were more accurate, and scored higher in reading comprehension than the comparison group.
Training teachers in explicit instruction and fluency building: 25 case studies from a university course
Abstract: Improved student reading ability has been a priority for the past years in Icelandic schools. In this study, 25 master-level students received training through a distance education course to use evidence-based methods; explicit instruction and fluency building. They implemented intervention with 18 boys and seven girls (aged 6 to 13 years). Eighteen pupils had reading difficulties and 13 pupils also were Icelandic language learners or had been diagnosed with ADHD, autism or language impairment. In the course, master-level students taught 15 lessons over a period of five weeks focusing on increasing pupils reading ability through explicit instruction and fluency building. Pupils increased their reading ability on average by 14 words per minute over the five week intervention phase. A majority, or 23 of 25 pupils, achieved public reading goals set by the Directorate of Education in Iceland. Results indicate that training through a distance education course can enable teachers to implement evidence-based interventions and thereby improve the reading ability of children with and without reading difficulties.
Guiding teachers to conduct behavior assessment and function-based interventions through a distance education course
ANNA-LIND PETURSDOTTIR (University of Iceland), Margret Sigmarsdottir (School of Education, University of Iceland)
Abstract: This presentation describes how graduate students have been trained to conduct functional behavioral assessments and individualized behavior support plans to decrease persistent student behavior problems. This team-based training has been offered as part of an elective course on behavioral and emotional difficulties at the School of Education, University of Iceland. The aim was to train graduate students (prospective and current teachers) to mentor other teachers in evidence-based practices to improve student behavior and well-being. The training has involved independent readings, lectures, various assessment and intervention materials, on-site assignments, step-by-step instructions, and written feedback. Teams have conducted AB single subject designs to assess changes in students´ target behaviors. A case study will be provided to illustrate the process, describing how the persistent disruptive behavior of a 13-year-old 8th grader decreased on average from 53 to 3 instances per 20-minute observations and academic engagement increased from 37% to 91% after function-based interventions. Also, data will be presented from 74 cases in preschools up to secondary schools, showing an average of 78% reduction in disruptive behavior, 89% reduction in aggressive behavior, and 92% increase in academic engagement of students.



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