How can school personnel intensify and individualize instruction?
Page 4: Change Intervention Dosage and Time
As discussed on the previous pages, there are four ways to intensify or adapt instructional interventions. One of the least-intensive and easiest methods is to change the amount of intervention a student receives (i.e., dosage and time). It is recommended that teachers begin by making a quantitative change for Step 1, although this type of adaptation can be used throughout the DBI process. More specifically, this means changing the:
- Frequency of intervention—for example by increasing the number of weekly intervention meetings from two sessions to four sessions
- Length of instructional sessions—for example by increasing the length of individual intervention sessions from 30 minutes per session to 45 minutes per session
- Duration of the intervention—for example by increasing the number of weeks the intervention lasts from 10 to 20
Benefits of Increased Dosage or Time
The fact that some students do not respond adequately to a secondary intervention does not mean that the intervention should be abandoned. These students might simply require a more lengthy engagement with the intervention for it to be effective. By increasing the dosage or time, teachers can:
- Increase engaged learning opportunities
- Cover more skills and strategies
- Provide more opportunities for practice with corrective feedback
Students with severe and persistent learning challenges need multiple opportunities to practice a skill or strategy. The students might require ten to thirty times more opportunities to practice than their peers to effectively apply the skill or strategy.
Considerations for Increasing Dosage and Time
How To Increase the Dosage and Time
Assuming the amount of intervention time is not sufficient for a student to make adequate progress, how much time will be effective? Finding an answer can prove difficult for school personnel, but there are a number of questions they can answer to help guide their decision.
- How far below grade level is the student’s performance?
- If the student is making progress, is the rate of progress too slow?
- How much intervention time is the student currently receiving?
- How complex are the skills being taught?
- How long can the student stay engaged and pay attention?
- Although the amount of instructional intervention a student requires to make progress varies, research suggests the following ranges for elementary students:
- Duration of intervention: at least 8–16 weeks
- Length and frequency of intervention: 30–120 minutes per day
- Secondary students who struggle with reading might need more time in intensive intervention to make progress.
How To Use the Increased Time Efficiently
Once school personnel have determined how much to increase the amount of intervention a student should receive, they must determine how to best use the additional instructional time to maximize the student’s learning. During this increased instructional time, those providing the intervention should:
- Keep the student actively engaged and limit nonproductive time (e.g., transition time from one activity to another)
- Teach additional skills and concepts
- Provide more practice opportunities with corrective feedback
- Teach the skill or content in a step-by-step manner
How To Obtain More Instructional Time
Although teachers have very busy daily schedules, there are a number of ways that they can accommodate increased instructional time for students. A few of these are described below.
- Break the intensive intervention time into several sessions: If it is difficult to find one relatively long period to implement the additional instruction (e.g., 30 minutes), teachers might find it easier to find two shorter periods of time (e.g., two 15-minute blocks of time).
- Use entry routines: When a student enters the class, and before class begins, she might practice a skill or concept with which she is struggling, for example reading comprehension or basic mathematics facts. Such practice can be done independently or with the assistance of a partner.
- Use exit routines: After a student finishes a class assignment, he might practice a skill or concept with which he is struggling until the class ends. This can be done independently or with the assistance of a partner.
- Work with the student while other students are engaged in independent or small-group activities.
- Provide additional instruction before or after school.
For Your Information
- For younger students, it is often beneficial to provide the intervention in brief multiple sessions across the day (e.g., two 15-minute sessions) as opposed to one longer session (e.g., 30 minutes). This is especially the case for those in kindergarten and first grade who might have difficulty staying engaged for long periods of time.
- For students with disabilities, changes in the amount of intervention they receive might require a multidisciplinary team meeting and changes to the students’ IEPs.