Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 782–796 | Cite as

Evaluation of Classroom Active Engagement in Elementary Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Nicole Sparapani
  • Lindee Morgan
  • Vanessa P. Reinhardt
  • Christopher Schatschneider
  • Amy M. Wetherby
Original Paper


This study evaluated the classroom measure of active engagement (CMAE), an observational tool designed to measure active engagement in students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants included 196 students with ASD and their educators (n = 126) who were video-recorded at the beginning of the school year. Findings documented limited active engagement overall, with students spending less than half of the observation well-regulated, productive, or independent and infrequently directing eye gaze and communicating. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the structure of the CMAE was represented by a 5-factor model. These findings underscore the need for improved active engagement in students with ASD and show promise for a tool to measure behaviors associated with positive educational outcomes in students with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Active engagement Emotional regulation Classroom participation Social connectedness Initiating communication 



This research was supported in part by Grant R324A100174 (Co-PI, Wetherby, Morgan) from the US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Nicole Sparapani was supported in part by Grant H325D070086 (PI Wetherby) from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Vanessa P. Reinhardt was supported in part by Grant UA3 MC 11055 AIR-B from the Maternal and Child Health Research Program, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Combating Autism Act Initiative), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.

Author Contributions

All authors contributed sufficiently to the manuscript. Because this study was part of the larger CSI Project, LM, CS, and AW were responsible for the study design, participant recruitment, and overseeing of the project. NS, LM, and AW were responsible for the conceptualization and design of the CMAE. NS was involved in coding of the observational data, data analysis, interpretation of the findings, and writing of the manuscript. VR was involved in data analysis, interpretation of the findings, and writing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Sparapani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lindee Morgan
    • 1
  • Vanessa P. Reinhardt
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christopher Schatschneider
    • 3
    • 4
  • Amy M. Wetherby
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida State University Autism Institute, College of MedicineFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.The Institute of the Science of Teaching and LearningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Florida Center for Reading ResearchFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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