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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessment of a school-based intervention for elementary school students diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) Clark, Erica Catherine


In response to limited interventions for children and youth diagnosed with FASD and no evidence-based resources for elementary school teachers, we aimed to measure the effectiveness and fidelity of a year long professional development program for elementary school teachers teaching students diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). The British Columbia Ministry of Education Provincial Outreach Program for FASD (POPFASD) developed a professional development program intended to assist teachers to integrate students with FASD in the classroom. The intervention, which is based on the Neurobehavioral Approach, focuses on changing teachers’ practice to create environmental, instructional, and curricular accommodations to support the unique needs of a student affected by FASD. A mixed-method research design using inductive thematic analysis and quasi-experimental methods was used in select schools in a northern British Columbian school district to examine the intervention. For the inductive thematic analysis, semi-structured interviews were done with principals, teachers, and caregivers of students with FASD. For the quasi-experimental component, teachers and students with and without FASD were assigned to an intervention or comparison group. Intervention and comparison groups were matched for teachers’ years of experience and the age, gender, ethnicity, and disruptive classroom behaviour of students with FASD. Outcome measures included classroom behaviour and academic achievement of students with FASD and academic achievement of students without FASD. Themes derived from inductive analysis described how teachers participating in the professional development program changed their perceptions of and responses to students’ behaviour. Principals and teachers in the intervention group also described implementation of the professional development program and the impact it had on teachers and the rest of the school. Caregivers in both experimental groups discussed the importance of communication for consistent implementation of accommodations and changes they felt would improve the professional development program. A statistically significant improvement in students’ classroom behaviour was observed when their teachers participated in the professional development program. The results provide support for the professional development program as an effective professional development program for elementary school teachers teaching students diagnosed with FASD; however, the sample size is too small to draw any definitive conclusions.

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