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Ed. Dept. Promotes Single-Case Design Research for Special Ed.

From guest blogger Jaclyn Zubrzycki

The Department of Education's Institute of Education Science is holding a training institute in single-case design research for special education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from June 25-29, 2012. Though it's being run by the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), the training is also aimed at researchers from outside the world of special education who might be able to use single-case design.

This is the second year running that the NCSER has run a training on single-case design research. This represents a bit of a shift from the IES's priorities during former director Russ Whitehurst's tenure, when randomized, controlled studies took precedence. The IES still funds significantly more randomized, controlled studies, said Deborah Speece, the NCSER's commissioner, and researchers tend to have more training in that methodology.

But Speece said her department views single-case design research as a "useful complement" to randomized control, within and without of the field of special education. In special education, single-case studies are used for rare conditions, but there are broader applications. For instance, "you might get to the end of a randomized, controledl study and look to see how you could reach kids who didn't respond, or strong responders," Speece said. Single-case design allows researchers to modify interventions used within the context of a single research project, which often isn't possible in a larger experiment.

Speece said her department planned to follow up on how and whether researchers used the training in their research.

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