Usability and feasibility of data-based instruction for students with intensive writing needs

Apryl L. Poch, Kristen L. McMaster, Erica S. Lembke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A small proportion of students do not benefit sufficiently from standard intervention protocols and require more intensive, individualized instruction. Data-based instruction (DBI) has a strong evidence base for addressing stu-dents’ intensive academic needs, yet it is not widely implemented. In this study, we explored the usability and feasibility of a professional development system to support teachers’ use of DBI in writing. Data analyzed using a mixed-methods design revealed that teachers perceived supports such as coaching as facilitators of DBI implementation, whereas access to materials and external factors such as time conflicts presented challenges. Teachers made statistically significant growth from pretest to post-test on a measure of DBI knowledge and skills, implemented DBI components with fidelity, and reported that time spent on DBI activities decreased each week, supporting its usability and feasibility. Findings suggest that DBI is usable and feasible when teachers are provided ongoing professional development supports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalElementary School Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We developed DBI-TLC as part of a 3-year project funded by an IES development and innovation grant. In Year 1, we developed DBI-TLC components with extensive input from members of the research team, classroom teachers and special education administrators, and leading experts in the field of special education. In Year 2 (the focus of this article), we examined the usability and feasibility of DBI with TLC supports. In Year 3, we examined the promise of DBI-TLC to improve teacher and student outcomes in a small randomized control trial (see McMaster et al., 2020; Poch et al., 2020). The iterative development of DBI-TLC (and its components) is described in detail in Lembke et al. (2018).

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through grant R324A130144 to the University of Minnesota. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the IES or the US Department of Education. Apryl L. Poch, assistant professor of special education at Duquesne University, focuses on (1) theoretically modeling the components of adolescent writing, (2) adolescent students’ knowledge of writing, and (3) pre-and in-service general and special educators’ knowledge and beliefs about teaching writing to students with disabilities; Kristen L. McMaster, Stern Family Professor of Reading Success at the University of Minnesota, focuses on (1) promoting teachers’ use of data-based decision making and evidence-based instruction and (2) developing intensive, individualized interventions for students for whom generally effective instruction is not sufficient; Erica S. Lembke, professor in special education and interim dean in the College of Education at the University of Missouri focuses on (1) development of assessment and intervention supports for teachers of students who are academically at risk and (2) data-based decision making frameworks for teachers to utilize with their students who have the most intensive needs. Correspondence may be sent to Apryl L. Poch at

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