Null Findings in EBD Literature
What We Do
Studies with null and negative findings are critical for determining ineffective interventions and identifying the boundaries of effective interventions, yet they are seldom published (i.e., publication bias). CASPER members Bryan Cook and Bill Therrien guest edited a 2017 special issue of Behavioral Disorders featuring empirical studies with null findings related to students with and at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. CASPER member Nick Gage was lead author on one of the papers. See below for abstracts and links to selected articles.
Null Effects and Publication Bias in Special Education Research
by Bryan G. Cook & William J. Therrien
Researchers sometimes conduct a study and find that the predicted relation between variables did not exist or that the intervention did not have a positive impact on student outcomes; these are referred to as null findings because they fail to disconfirm the null hypothesis. Rather than consider such studies as failures and disregard the null findings, it is important that these studies be published so that all research is available to the field, which (a) enables valid and complete research syntheses and (b) informs future policy, practice, and research. However, null findings are not always published, leading to the possibility of publication bias, a positively skewed research base, and policy and practices based on incomplete data. This special issue of Behavioral Disorders provides an outlet for methodologically sound studies with null findings. In this introductory article, we provide a context for the special issue by discussing the importance of null findings, the problem of publication bias, and ongoing efforts to publish null findings.
The Relation Between the Academic Achievement of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and Teacher Characteristics
by Nicholas A. Gage, Reesha Adamson, Ashley S. MacSuga-Gage, & Timothy J. Lewis
Teachers of students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) are less experienced and more likely to have emergency certification than teachers of students with other disabilities. Yet, to date, research has not examined the relation between the academic achievement of students with EBD and characteristics associated with highly qualified teachers (teachers’ education level, certification status, and years of experience). Using a nationally representative longitudinal data set of students with disabilities, this study examined the relation between teacher characteristics and the academic achievement of students with EBD. Using hierarchical linear modeling, the study found low academic achievement for students with EBD, null effects for change in achievement across time, and null effects for the relation between (a) teachers’ educational level, certification status, and years of experience and (b) student academic achievement. Results indicate further research is needed to examine whether and how teacher characteristics may impact the academic achievement of students with EBD.