Award Date

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational & Clinical Studies

First Committee Member

Joshua N. Baker

Second Committee Member

Cori More

Third Committee Member

Tracy Spies

Fourth Committee Member

Randall Boone

Number of Pages



Teaching academic instruction to students with significant cognitive disability (SCD) has been done with success over the past years (Browder, Mims, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Lee, 2008; Hudson & Test, 2011; Mims, Hudson, & Browder, 2012), However, research is scarce and further instructional strategies are needed to help align the standard-based curriculum for this population of students (Browder, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Flowers, & Baker, 2012).

The academic inclusion of students with SCD has been a topic of interest for researchers over the past few decades. In 1997, research on teaching academics to students with SCD was scarce (Nietupski, Hamre-Nietupski, Curtin, Shrikanth, 1997). The individuals with disabilities education act (IDEA) was reauthorized in 1997, to require that all students with disabilities to have access to the general curriculum (IDEA, 1997). In 2001, No Child Left Behind was passed (NCLB, 2001), which made sure that all students are successful and held the schools accountable for the success of all students.

These movements have prompted many researchers to investigate different instructional strategies to deliver instruction better and more specifically, academic instruction such as reading (Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Algozzine, 2005), math (Browder, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Harris, & Wakeman, 2007), and science (Courtade, Spooner, & Browder, 2007) to students with SCD. With the passing of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015), the importance of teaching academic instruction to students with SCD is still eminent.

Based on the findings from the research, systematic prompting (Mims, Hudson, & Browder, 2012) and embedded instruction (Jimenez & Kamei, 2015) have been used as effective instructional strategies for students with SCD. The research also strongly suggests the use of shared stories to deliver academic instruction to students with SCD is also very effective (Hudson, et al., 2015; Mims, et al., 2012; Spooner et al. 2014).

This study added to the research by using systematic prompting to teach pivotal skills distributed in an adapted literature shared reading book, and examined the effects of this intervention on the acquisition of skills, listening comprehension, and behaviors of students with SCD.

A single subject multiple probe baseline design across participants was used and results suggest the occurrence of a functional relationship between the independent and each of the dependent variables. The results of the study discussed the effects of the independent variable on pivotal skill acquisition and listening comprehension, as well as assessed the effects of this intervention on the ability of the students to generalize the dependent variables over time and across settings. The social validity of this intervention was also assessed through a survey sent out to the teachers, parents, and students.


Distributed Trials; Shared Stories; Significant Cognitive Disability


Special Education and Teaching