How can an educator implement an evidence-based practice or program with fidelity?
Page 2: Understand Implementation Procedures
To implement an EBP with fidelity, first you must understand how to implement it as it was designed. You can become more knowledgeable about what is involved in correctly implementing the practice or program by receiving training. However, although educators who have received training usually implement an EBP with greater fidelity, sometimes training is not available or is not feasible. In such cases, educators can learn the implementation procedures on their own.
Research shows that educators who receive high-quality training and on-going support implement with greater fidelity than those who do not. Moreover, those who receive extensive training typically implement with greater fidelity than those who receive limited training. Effective high-quality training includes:
- Presenting information—Typically delivered through a lecture or discussion, this includes all the facts and knowledge relevant to implement the practice (e.g., benefits, steps or components, implementation instructions, research base, effectiveness).
- Demonstrating the skill or concept—This may involve a live or taped model or simulation of an individual implementing important aspects of the practice or program.
- Providing opportunities to practice—Time is allotted during the session for participants to practice the skills (sometimes referred to as role plays or behavior rehearsals). To be successful, training should provide opportunities for participants to receive corrective feedback about their performance in a supportive atmosphere.
In addition to the training components listed above, you should receive ongoing support, the goal of which is to improve and maintain the skills necessary for correct implementation, to maintain motivation and commitment, to address problems that may arise, and to prevent drift. Ongoing support should be provided frequently throughout the year, both on a scheduled and an as-needed basis. Ideally ongoing support involves a knowledgeable individual who observes your implementation (e.g., in the classroom, in an early intervention setting) and provides corrective feedback.
- A comprehensive review of 20 years of research found strong evidence to support the argument that coaching promotes high implementation fidelity of EBPs.
(Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010)
- Although teachers’ knowledge and skills grow steadily when training involves discussion of the theory, demonstrations, and opportunities to practice a new instructional technique, effective implementation in the classroom (that is, with fidelity) primarily occurs when peer coaching is subsequently provided.
The table below illustrates that peer coaching, used in combination with the study of theory, demonstrations, and opportunities to practice, resulted in 95% of trainees using the new instructional technique with fidelity in the classroom (i.e., transfer). The data in each of the table’s columns depict an additive effect of each training component. For instance, the data for knowledge indicate:
- 10% of participants attained thorough knowledge of the technique after studying the theory (i.e., knowledge of or rationale for the new skills or strategies).
- 30% attained thorough knowledge after the combination of studying the theory, plus demonstrations (i.e., modeling).
- 60% attained thorough knowledge after the combination of studying the theory, plus demonstrations, plus practice.
- 95% attained thorough knowledge after the combination of studying the theory, plus demonstrations, plus practice, plus peer coaching.
Training Components and Attainment of Outcomes in
Terms of Percent of Participants
Components Outcomes Knowledge Skill Transfer Study of Theory 10% 5% 0% Demonstrations 30% 20% 0% Practice 60% 60% 5% Peer Coaching 95% 95% 95%
(Joyce & Showers, 2002)
Learning on Your Own
When training is not available, you can learn the implementation procedures for a given EBP by carefully reading and following step-by-step procedures outlined in an existing manual or set of guidelines. In addition to outlining the procedures, a manual may address other information related to implementation, such as:
- Who will participate (e.g., struggling readers, non-verbal preschooler)
- How long the program will be implemented (e.g., the entire semester, ten weeks)
- How long is each session
- How frequent are the sessions
- What materials will be needed
A manual helps ensure a degree of program quality by increasing the day-to-day consistency of implementation for an individual as well as from person to person. The more specific the manual, the greater the potential for educators to implement a practice or program with fidelity. For complex practices or programs, a manual should include detailed procedures for each core component as well as for the overall program. Although commercially available programs are usually accompanied by their own manuals, this may not be the case for certain practices (e.g., mnemonics, peer tutoring). When a manual is not available, you can create your own “implementation manual” by reviewing journal articles and books and even by contacting the developers. Assuming you can obtain clear, precise information, you should be able to identify the core components of the practice and the step-by-step procedures for implementation. You might also wish to view training videos or video demonstrations and also consult with colleagues who have successfully implemented the EBP.
Bryan Cook and Tom Kratochwill offer more suggestions on training and self-learning opportunities.
Bryan Cook, PhD
Professor, Special Education
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Tom Kratochwill, PhD
Professor, Educational Psychology
Co-PI, Project PRIME
University of Wisconsin-Madison
For Your Information
Educators can improve their fidelity of implementation of an EBP by seeking out the support of a peer with more experience implementing that particular practice or program. The coaching and support of this peer can substantially improve the fidelity of implementing the EBP.