APBS and Evidence-Based Practices

Purpose and Goals of the APBS Evidence-based Practice Site

The goal of this section of the apbs.org website is to provide individuals interested in learning about evidence-based practice with information, tools, and resources related to this topic. Currently there is an Ad Hoc Work group within APBS working on policy and materials development.

Evidence-based Practice Workgroup members include:

  • Randy De Pry (Chair)
  • Joe Lucyshyn (Chair)
  • Matt Tincani
  • Lori Newcomer
  • Rachel Freeman

The APBS Evidence-based Workgroup’s goal is to develop materials that can be used by a variety of individuals who are interested in evidence-based practice as it relates to positive behavior support. The goal will be to design tools and resources that professionals in human services, educators, state leaders, family members, and other individuals can use to evaluate and make a decision about whether a practice they are interested in is considered “evidence-based.” In addition, various media will be used as a resource for individuals who will be able to read about an exemplary study, evaluate it independently, and then receive guidance from a senior researcher and fellow APBS member whose exemplary response to the study has been placed online as a recorded file.

Currently, the APBS Evidence-based Workgroup is identifying exemplary articles that will be used to demonstrate how to evaluate articles that describe research related to different types of practices. Types of research methodologies will be explained and a list of the key features will be available to individuals so that they can make an informed assessment of a practice or program of interest. The workgroup is finalizing the tools and resources that will be used for this online resource page.

APBS Definition of Evidence-based Practice

Evidence-based practice in Positive Behavior Support is defined as the integration of rigorous science-based knowledge with applied expertise driven by stakeholder preferences, values, and goals within natural communities of support. APBS Approved Definition March 26, 2013
Key Words Policy/Practice Definitions
  • Explicitly linking research published in peer-reviewed journals to effective practice. This includes:
    • Research-based assessment tools, intervention strategies, and comprehensive support models or approaches
    • Research-based concepts and decision-rules that guide the design of unique strategies that match the needs of specific consumers and settings.
  • In complex systems, knowledge and practice from different but complementary fields may be necessary to solve applied problems.
  • At a high level of integration, consilience may be achieved; that is, a synsthesis or unity of knowledge that is relatively seamlessly instantiated in practice (e.g., SWPBS; Positive Family Integration).
Rigorous Science-based Knowledge
  • Rigorous science based knowledge includes knowledge developed from high quality research across a variety of established research methods including single case methods, quasi-experimental and experimental group design methods, correlational research methods, and qualitative research methods.
  • Defined by Odom et al.’s (2004) Quality Indicators for Research in Special Education and Guidelines for Evidence-Based Practices with added Positive Behavior Support Quality Indicators.
Applied Expertise
  • Applied expertise includes several qualities and competencies:
    • Technical expertise in conducting or facilitating relevant assessments (e.g., FBA, SWPBS Implementers Checklist), developing assessment-based interventions (e.g., positive behavior support plan, SWPBS universal support systems), and effectively supporting a high level of implementation fidelity of interventions by consumers.
    • Clinical or professional judgment in regard to working in partnership with key stakeholders to advance evidence-based practices in natural settings, customizing interventions to settings so that they possess a good contextual fit, and collaborating with allied professionals whose expertise may be necessary to achieve behavioral and quality of life outcomes.
    • Conducting activities from an empowerment model in which knowledge and skills are “given away” so that stakeholders are able to use the knowledge and skills in an effective, adapted, and generative way without the continual need for external technical assistance.
Stakeholder Preferences, Values, and Goals
  • Includes consumer and other stakeholder preferences that are strength based and promote valued outcomes.
  • Highlights the importance of person-centered values, collaboration and partnership.
  • For families of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, includes an effort to build partnerships, conduct assessment, design interventions and provide implementation support in a manner that is culturally responsive and sensitive.
Natural Communities of Support
  • Highlights the focus of positive behavior support on ecological validity; that is, the practical application and translation of science-based knowledge to natural agents of change in natural settings under natural conditions (e.g., teachers and administrators in school, parents and family members at home and in the community).
  • Requires that interventions possess a good contextual fit with the stakeholders and settings in which they will be implemented.
  • In settings in which positive behavior support is implemented a core outcome is that the focus person is more fully and successfully included as a full member of that setting, whether it is in the home, school, or community.
  • Includes a focus on building sustainable interventions that natural agents of change can continue to use and adapt across time with a minimum of additional technical assistance and support.
View a printable version of the APBS Definition of Evidence-based Practice that includes this table. The references or source material associated with this website do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS) nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by APBS.
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