Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 152–166 | Cite as

How to Study the Influence of Intensity of Treatment on Generalized Skill and Knowledge Acquisition in Students with Disabilities

  • Paul J. Yoder
  • Tiffany Woynaroski
Original Paper


Seven empirical studies from this special issue and an overview chapter are reviewed to illustrate several points about studying the possible effects of treatment intensity manipulations on generalized skill or knowledge acquisition in students with disabilities. First, we make a case in favor of studying intensity as separate from complexity and expense of treatment. Second, we encourage researchers to define dependent variables in a way that allows us to determine whether treatment intensity effects on child skills and knowledge are highly generalized versus potentially context bound. Third, we acknowledge that effects of treatment intensity on generalized knowledge and skills will likely vary according to student characteristics. Finally, we discuss important research design and measurement issues that are relevant to isolating the likely conditional effects of treatment intensity on generalized outcomes.


Intensity Treatment Measurement Research design Methodology 


  1. Barnett, D. W., Daly, E. J., III, Jones, K. M., & Lentz, F., Jr. (2004). Response to intervention: Empirically based special service decisions from single-case designs of increasing and decreasing intensity. Journal of Special Education, 38, 66–79.Google Scholar
  2. Codding, R. S., & Lane, K. L. (2014). A spotlight on treatment intensity: An important and often overlooked component of intervention inquiry. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9210-z.
  3. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Duhon, G., House, S., Hastings, K., Poncy, B. C., & Solomon, B. G. (2014). Adding immediate feedback to explicit timing: An option for enhancing treatment intensity to improve mathematics fluency. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9203-y.
  5. Ennis, R. P., Jolivette, K., Terry, N. P., Fredrick, L. D., & Alberto, P. A. (2014). Classwide teacher implementation of self-regulated strategy development for writing with students with E/BD in a residential facility. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9207-7.
  6. Fey, M., Warren, S., Yoder, P., & Bredin-Oja, S. (2013). Is more better? Milieu communication teaching in toddlers with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 56, 679–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Glennerster, R., & Kudzai, T. (2013). Running randomized evaluations: A practical guide. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Haegele, K., & Burns, M. K. (2014). Effect of modifying intervention set size with acquisition rate data among students identified with a learning disability. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9201-0.
  9. Hammond, D., & Gast, D. L. (2010). Descriptive analysis of single subject research designs: 1983–2007. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45, 187–202.Google Scholar
  10. Lieberman, R., Yoder, P., Reichow, B., & Wolery, M. (2010). Expert visual analysis of multiple-baseline across participant data showing delayed changes in the dependent variable. School Psychology Quarterly, 25, 28–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Marsicano, R. T., Morrison, J. Q., Moomaw, S. C., Fite, N. M., & Kluesener, C. M. (2014). Increasing math milieu teaching by varying levels of consultation support: An example of analyzing intervention strength. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9200-1.
  12. Mellard, D., McKnight, M., & Jordan, J. (2010). RTI tier structures and instructional intensity. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 25(4), 217–225.Google Scholar
  13. Neil, N. M., & Jones, E. A. (2014). Studying treatment intensity: Lessons from two preliminary studies. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9208-6.
  14. Polanin, J., & Espelage, D. (2014). Using a meta-analytic technique to assess the relationship between treatment intensity and program effects in a cluster-randomized trial. Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9205-9.
  15. Ross, S. G., & Begeny, J. C. (2014). An examination of treatment intensity with an oral reading fluency intervention: Do intervention duration and student-teacher instructional ratios impact intervention effectiveness? Journal of Behavioral Education. doi: 10.1007/s10864-014-9202-z.
  16. Scruggs, T. E., Mastropieri, M. A., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, J. E. (2010). Do special education interventions improve learning of secondary content? A meta-analysis. Remedial & Special Education, 31(6), 437–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Warren, S., Fey, M. E., & Yoder, P. J. (2007). Differential treatment intensity research: A missing link to creating optimally effective communication interventions. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 70–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Woynaroski, T., Fey, M., Warren, S., & Yoder, P. (2014). Prelinguistic communication intervention research: A focus on treatment intensity. In M. Romski & R. Sevcik (Eds.), Examining the science and practice of communication interventions for individuals with severe disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Yoder, P. J., Bottema-Beutel, K., Woynaroski, T., & Sandbank, M. (2014a). Social communication intervention effects vary by dependent variable type in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. Evidence-based Communication Assessment and Intervention, 7(4), 150–174.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Yoder, P. J., & Compton, D. (2004). Identifying predictors of treatment response. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 10, 162–168.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Yoder, P. J., Woynaroski, T., Fey, M., & Warren, S. (2014b). Effects of dose frequency of early communication intervention in young children with and without Down syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 119(1), 17–32.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Special Education DepartmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Hearing and Speech SciencesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations