Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Description of an Iterative Process for Intervention Development

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Description of an Iterative Process for Intervention Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

Recent efforts to improve American educational practices have focused on determining the efficacy of interventions and instructional practices via randomized controlled trials. Aligned with this effort, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the primary funding agency for experimental research in education, has organized grant funding into goals which include Development and Innovation (Goal 2) in order to ready interventions for an efficacy trial. The literature, however, provides little guidance for conducting the iterative process of intervention required to develop an intervention. We describe a multi-phase process that we used to develop a comprehensive intervention package for secondary age students with social, emotional, and behavioral problems. The intervention package was developed as part of the Center for Adolescent Research in the Schools (CARS) in preparation for an efficacy trial.

In the past decade we have witnessed increased efforts to improve American education. Duplicating advancements in other fields (e.g., randomized controlled trials of medications) these efforts have implicated the reliance on research-proven practices. Through mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as well as other federal K-12 grant programs, The United States Department of Education has implored educational practitioners to identify and implement evidence-based interventions in order to improve children's educational outcomes. For the most part, evidence of effective practice is defined by randomized controlled trials (Coalition for Evidence Based Policy, 2003).

The field of education is replete with practices that lack research support. At the same time, conducting randomized controlled trials is costly and time consuming. Because of the effort and expense of randomized controlled trials, interventions should have preliminary evidence of effectiveness. In addition, interventions need to be developed to the extent that they can be specifically described for broad implementation (e.g., manualized). Aligned with the requirement of intervention readiness, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the primary funding agency for experimental research in education, has organized grant funding into goals, including Development and Innovation (Goal 2), Efficacy and Replication trials (Goal 3), and Scale Up Evaluation (Goal 4). This phased process allows researchers to develop and pilot interventions prior to conducting randomized controlled trials.

Intervention development, as defined by IES, requires "an iterative process of designing, testing, revising, and testing to produce a product or system that functions in the way that the developer intends for it to function and that can be implemented in actual education delivery settings (e.g., schools)" (Institute for Education Sciences, 2010, pg. 8). Although the majority of grants funded by IES fall under Goal 2, Development and Innovation (e.g., among the five goals, 67% of 2010 funded grants were Development) unfortunately, there is little guidance detailing the iterative process. Specifically, to date there are few published studies that depict a comprehensive process for intervention design, testing, revision, and retesting that is called for by IES.

Several studies have described isolated strategies for developing interventions. For example, Haerens and colleagues (2009) sought to develop a community-based healthy eating intervention for young children for use in eight different countries. Twenty focus group interviews were conducted to examine the perspectives of various stakeholders (i.e., community leaders, parents, teachers and children). The focus group interviews were tape recorded and subsequently analyzed and summarized by two researchers. The information allowed the researchers to identify variables that influenced dietary behaviors among young children, which led to the development of an initial intervention. …

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