Frequently, it is confusing to consumers to see what are seemingly interchangeable terms used in the early childhood literature. For example, the distinction between evidence-based practices, research-based practices, and recommended practices is not readily apparent.
Early childhood practitioners want valid practices to help them effectively address the needs of young children with disabilities and their families. Recognizing this need, several researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt University have proposed a definition of evidence-based practice for the field of early childhood education (Buysse, Wesley, Snyder, & Winton, 2006). The definition is based on a similar approach that has been utilized to define evidence-based medicine (EBM). The tenets of EBM include: assessing the evidence in the research literature, selecting the relevant studies, and applying rules of evidence to judge their validity. EBM goes further to include consideration of clinical judgment and patient values to determine treatment. Evidenced-based practice in early childhood education is viewed as “…a process that integrates empirical evidence, experience, and values to inform decisions about policies, services, supports, or instruction for young children and their families and the personnel who serve them” (Buysse & Wesley, 2006, p. 36).
Frequently, it is confusing to consumers to see what are seemingly interchangeable terms used in the early childhood literature. For example, the distinction between evidence-based practices, research-based practices, and recommended practices is not readily apparent. Buysse and colleagues (2006) note the following differences:
Evidence-based practice relies on a process as follows: reviewing best available research evidence as well as considering experience and core values and beliefs; weighing the evidence and resolving challenges created by conflicting evidence; considering needs and priorities of clients; and finally, making informed decisions about practices that will lead to the best possible outcomes for a child and family. This process for applying evidence to inform practice decisions integrates research with professional and family wisdom and values.
Research-based practice is associated with the best available research component of evidence-based practice.
Recommended practices are tangible lists of written recommendations that are based on scientific and experiential knowledge and can assist with making practice decisions.
The DEC Recommended Practices: A comprehensive guide for practical application in early intervention /early childhood special education (2005) represent one source of evidence that teachers might use when making evidence-based practice decisions. The process used to develop the DEC Recommended Practices included examination of empirical research, the experiences and values of stakeholders, and validation from the field about practices recommended for use with young children with disabilities and their families (Buysse, Wesley, Snyder, & Winton, 2006). Additional resources appear in the box below.
The Research and Training Center on Early Childhood Development, Center for Evidenced-Based Practices website provides research-based syntheses on various interventions in 11 early childhood domains. The center evaluates standards of evidence by investigating the relationships between practices and outcomes and then examining the strength of those relationships. Visit the site at http://researchtopractice.info
Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young CHildren with Challenging Behavior: http://www.challengingbehavior.org
Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning: httpwww.vanderbilt.edu/csefel
Buysse, V., & Wesley, P.W. (2006). Evidence-based practice in the early childhood field. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.
Buysse, V., Wesley, P.W., Snyder, P., & Winton, P. (2006). Evidence-based practice: what does it mean for the early child- hood field? Young Exceptional Children, 9(4), 2-11.
Sandall, S., Hemmeter, M.L., Smith, B.J., & McLean, M.E. (Eds.). (2005). DEC Recommended Practices: A comprehen- sive guide for practical application in early intervention/early childhood special education. Longman, CO: Sopris West