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Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 549–569 | Cite as

Single-Case Experimental Designs in Educational Research: A Methodology for Causal Analyses in Teaching and Learning

  • Joshua B. Plavnick
  • Summer J. Ferreri
Reflection on the Field

Abstract

Current legislation requires educational practices be informed by science. The effort to establish educational practices supported by science has, to date, emphasized experiments with large numbers of participants who are randomly assigned to an intervention or control condition. A potential limitation of such an emphasis at the expense of other research methods is that evidence-based practices in education will derive only from science in the hypothetico-deductive tradition. Such a process omits practices originating from and tested through an inductive approach to understanding phenomena. Single-case experimental designs, developed by experimental and applied behavior analysts, offer an inductive process to identify and alter the lawful relations between the behavior of individual organisms and the environmental variables that are causally related to the occurrence or nonoccurrence of the behavior. Such designs have been essential in the development of effective instructional practices for students with disabilities and have much to offer the broader educational population as well. The purpose of the present paper is to provide an overview of single-case research methodology and the process by which this methodology can contribute to the identification of evidence-based instructional practices.

Keywords

Applied behavior analysis Evidence-based practice Single-case experimental design 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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