1. Effectiveness That Is Supported By Research Findings
For an intervention to be considered evidence-based, research must demonstrate that it is effective with its intended population when implemented as it was intended to be implemented (i.e., with integrity). The intervention must be authenticated by going through many different academic subjects, settings, group sizes, different populations, and many other situations to provide as much evidence as possible for the intervention to be considered effective (Rathvan, 2009). After testing an intervention with a large group of subjects and finding it to effectively bring about the targeted change, interventions are considered to be evidence-based. Evidence-Based Interventions (EBIs) are likely to be effective for most people.
2. Cultural Responsiveness
The EBI must be fit the students’ needs in a culturally-sensitive way and must be appropriate for use with the population to which they are being applied. For example, if an EBI intended for a white adult male is applied to a group of African-American children (whose values and cultural background may differ), the likelihood that the intervention will be effective may be drastically reduced (Evidence Based Intervention Network [EBIN, 2015]).
3. Implementation Integrity
Without implementation integrity (also known as treatment fidelity, or following all of the intervention steps exactly as they were intended to be followed without going “off-script,” so to speak), an EBI becomes just an “I”… an intervention without the evidence-base. To increase the likelihood of implementation integrity, it is important to consider what is feasible for persons involved in implementing any given intervention.
According to Rathvan (2009), seven criteria can help us choose best practice interventions.
1. Documented Evidence of Effectiveness
The interventions that are considered best-practice are those that have been slightly modified from evidence-based interventions (those with empirical evidence of usefulness in making progress and improvements in what they were designed to address) to meet the needs of the population at hand.
2. Consistent with an Ecological Perspective
The ecological perspective is one that describes students’ difficulties and problems as a conflict between the students’ needs and what their environment is providing. By using an ecological perspective in a school setting, one can better understand student behaviors and that factors that contribute to them across their life circles (e.g., their classmates, family, school, community).
3. Emphasis on a Proactive Approach to Classroom Problems
Most classrooms utilize a “contingency-based” theory, which means that consequences are used to motivate behavior change. A proactive approach would shift the focus from providing consequences to changing antecedents (e.g., increasing student engagement, removing distracting stimuli) with the goal of preventing challenging behavior from occurring in the first place. The ultimate objective is to prevent negative behaviors before they happen.
4. Capable of Classwide Application
Strategies that enhance academic productivity and social skills in the classroom prove to be very useful for teachers, as they can be applied time and time again when similar challenging behaviors emerge. Organized instruction and behavior management system would be the focus for the best performance from students in the classroom.
5. Capable of Being Easily Shared through a Consultation Model
Best practice interventions are feasible; they don’t place unrealistic demands on teachers or consultants. EBIs with complex implementation or evaluation procedures can be modified so that they are more practical. As long as the modifications have been deemed not to drastically reduce intervention effectiveness, they can still be considered Best Practice interventions.
6. Capable of Implementation Using Regular Classroom Resources
Best practice interventions do not always require additional resources or manpower; in fact, many best practice interventions that will be shared via our blog will be intentionally simple and inexpensive to implement in general education settings. The idea is to creatively use already available resources, such as peers and curriculum, in order to better meet the needs of all students. A focus on best practice general education classroom interventions has the potential to preemptively address challenging student behavior and meet the needs of most students.
7. Capable of Being Evaluated by Reliable, Valid, and Practical Methods
Best practice behavioral interventions target concrete and specific student behaviors, which allow them to be easily evaluated over time. Evaluation methods should yield the same objective results regardless of who uses them.
If you just can’t wait for our upcoming posts recommending behavioral interventions for AD/HD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, aggressive behavior, anxiety-related behavior, depressed / withdrawn behavior, oppositional behavior, and sexualized behavior, feel free to check out some of our favorite intervention resources by perusing our website or reaching out to us with specific requests.
We are looking forward to exploring evidence-based and best practice behavioral interventions with you over the course of the next several months, and, as always, we welcome your feedback.
This blog post was co-authored by: Amanda Sander, MSW Candidate; Jacquelyn O'Connor, PsyD, NCSP; Laura Bertini-Colon, LCSW, CSSW; & Kelli Schuhl, LCSW, CSSW.
Rathvon, N. (2009). Effective School Interventions, Second Edition. Gilford Press: NY, London.