UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparison of iPad-based and traditional instructional materials for teaching academic skills to children with autism spectrum disorder Voroshina, Alexandra


In recent years, research has emerged on the application of the iPad for teaching academic, communication, vocational, and leisure skills to children with special needs such as ASD (Kagohara et al., 2013). However, only 10 iPad studies to date have sought to teach basic academic skills (e.g., simple reading, math, or printing skills) to students with special educational needs, and only five of these compared iPad-based instruction to the traditional materials. This study aimed to expand the research on the application of the iPad for teaching academic skills by comparing the impact of the mode of instructional delivery (i.e., iPad vs. traditional materials) on the number of sessions required to meet mastery criterion, task engagement, and frequency of problem behaviour. The study employed an adapted alternating treatments design with two young children with autism spectrum disorder. Two tasks were identified for both participants: addition with pictures and word families, with equivalent task sets designed for each condition. All sessions were conducted in participants’ homes and lasted 20 to 40 minutes. The results for the number of trials to criterion provide evidence of a functional relation in favour of the TM condition for the word families task but not for the addition task. This is contrary to the hypothesis that a functional relation would be evident for both tasks in favour of the iPad condition. Results for engagement were mixed, with lower engagement in the iPad condition for one participant, and no meaningful difference for the other. No problem behaviour was observed during the study. Implications of the study are discussed as they apply to students with autism spectrum disorder in particular, along with suggestions for future research.

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