Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Paul Gerber


Professional development for teachers currently working in the classroom is an important focus of educational programs and school systems. Continuous professional development is especially important for special education teachers to maintain current information related to strategies and supports that are effective in educating students with disabilities. The increase in identification of students with autism has forced many teachers to quickly adapt to working with a population of students they have limited experience in teaching through preservice education and previous classroom experience. Coaching is a popular method for professional development delivery to special education teachers currently working in the classroom. This delivery model is used to promote understanding and application of evidence based practices for students with autism to promote positive outcomes for teachers and students. Existing research demonstrates the effectiveness of coaching models to assist teachers in delivering instruction using evidence-based practices to students with autism. The purpose of this study was to determine teachers’ self-reported satisfaction and success with the National Professional Development Center (NPDC) coaching model. A nonexperimental survey research method was designed to investigate the relationship of the independent variables, participation in the NPDC coaching process, years of teaching experience, and the frequency of meeting with coach. The dependent variables examined in the study included the use of evidence-based practices with students and teachers’ reported appraisal of the NPDC coaching model. In order to measure the effect of coaching on self-reported change in teacher practice, a survey was conducted with the 21 teachers currently involved in the NPDC coaching model implementation sites. While a causal relationship between coaching as a professional development mechanism and the use of evidence-based practices was not established, teachers communicated the social validity and impact that participation in the project had on their instruction. Teachers also reported increases in students’ academic and behavioral skill development. The findings suggest that even though coaching can impact a teacher’s practice, many other factors are involved in the development of a teacher’s instructional skill set. Future research should continue to define the factors that influence teacher skill development, specifically around implementing evidence-based practices for students with autism spectrum disorders.


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