Single-subject research designs in adapted physical education

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Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

Routledge Handbook of Adapted Physical Education


Justin Haegele, Samuel Hodge, Deborah Shapiro



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Single-subject research designs offer researchers and teachers a powerful evaluation strategy to examine the effects of educational interventions designed to improve student learning and social behaviors. Single-subject designs are used in behavior analysis, a science which has both basic and applied fields and is grounded in the philosophy of radical behaviorism. Single-subject research designs have high utility in adapted physical education (APE) settings because (a) they focus on actual behaviors of students rather than indirect measures of behavior, (b) they place a strong value on the internal validity of the design, using the individual’s own baseline against which to compare the effects of the intervention, and (c) the data that are used to judge the baseline and intervention/s are repeated measures of the behaviors of interest that occur over time and which are not aggregated. In this chapter, we introduce the philosophy of radical behaviorism, its educational science applied behavior analysis, the nature of single-subject designs and their use in APE settings, including trends and issues related to their use. We conclude with a summary of the core messages in the chapter and some reflection questions for readers.