Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Exploratory Study of the Implementation of Embedded Instruction by General Educators with Students with Developmental Disabilities

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Exploratory Study of the Implementation of Embedded Instruction by General Educators with Students with Developmental Disabilities

Article excerpt


A multiple probe across subjects design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of embedded instruction with three students with developmental disabilities who were enrolled in general education classrooms. Two general education teachers delivered embedded instruction to students during regularly schedule instructional activities. The skills taught to students included matching functional sight-words, signing "help" to request assistance on difficult tasks, and identifying the two-digit number that was "greater than." Student data showed that embedded instruction was effective with two of the three students. The third student appeared to show some initial skill gains but did not maintain performance across time despite modifications in reinforcement and the instructional procedures. The results also indicate that both general education teachers were able to implement the procedure with a high degree of fidelity. Teacher ratings of the acceptability and perceived effectiveness of the procedures suggested that teachers viewed embedded instruction as a practical, effective, and efficient strategy for teaching students with disabilities in general education settings.


Over the last decade, the number of students with development disabilities being served in general education classes has steadily increased (U. S. Department of Education, 2000; Werts, Wolery, Snyder, Caldwell, & Salisbury, 1996). The inclusion movement has received strong support from a number of professional and advocacy organizations that have championed the equal access of all students with disabilities to the general education curriculum and the full participation of students in typical educational settings (Meyer, Peck, & Brown, 1991; NASBE, 1992). Furthermore, research suggests that inclusive programs can have a number of positive educational and social benefits for students with severe disabilities and their peers (Giangreco & Putnam, 1991; Halvorsen & Sailor, 1990; Hunt & Goetz, 1997).

In spite of growing support for inclusion, practitioners still face a number of challenges in providing effective educational programs to students with developmental disabilities in general education classes. Perhaps one of the most significant issues is providing systematic instruction that is tailored to students' unique educational needs (McDonnell, 1998). For example, Schuster, Hemmeter, and Ault (2001) conducted a descriptive study with 12 kindergarten through third grade students with severe disabilities enrolled in general education classes to determine the number of opportunities they had each day to receive instruction on the objectives included in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The results showed that 4 of the 12 students received no instruction on their IEP objectives. The remaining students received instruction on only 45% of their IEP objectives. In addition, Schuster and his colleagues found that the majority of instructional trials presented to students on their IEP objectives were provided by special education staff rather than the students' general education teacher. This study highlights the need to develop and validate teaching strategies that will allow students to receive effective instruction on skills that are included in both the general education curriculum and in their IEP (Harrower, 1999; McDonnell, 1998; Wolery & Schuster, 1997). Equally important, it reinforces the need to develop instructional strategies that can and will be used by general educators to meet the needs of students with developmental disabilities enrolled in their classes (Fantuzzo & Atkins, 1992; McDonnell, 1998).

Embedded instruction has been suggested as one strategy that could be used to improve the learning outcomes for students in these settings (Harrower, 1999; McDonnell, 1998; Wolery, Ault, & Doyle, 1992). In embedded instruction, students are taught skills within the ongoing routines of the performance setting. …

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