What are evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs)?

evidence-based-instructional-practices-4bEvidence-based practices in early 
childhood education are strategies shown by science to be effective ways to teach young children new behaviors or skills. In order to be considered an evidence-based practice, an instructional strategy must be shown to be effective in multiple high-quality research studies across multiple settings with many participants. To be considered high quality, a research study should show that the intervention—and only the intervention—is the reason for any changes in child behavior. The evidence-based instructional practices described on this website have all met these rigorous requirements.

Although all of the EBIPs shared on this website have been adequately assessed in research studies, this doesn’t mean that all of the practices will be effective for teaching all children. In fact, some evidence-based practices have only been shown by research to be effective with very specific populations (e.g, 3-year-olds with autism)! Though the evidence-based practices on this website have generally been shown to be effective for young children with a wide variety of characteristics, it is important to remember that each child learns in a unique way. It is important to monitor child progress and modify or change teaching strategies to meet the needs of the individual learner when using any of these strategies.

 What is the purpose of this website?

evidence-based-instructional-practices-16

This website is intended to serve as an introduction to a selection of evidence-based practices that can be used to teach new skills to young children. These practices have been shown by research to be effective for young children with autism and other disabilities as well as children without disabilities. The practices described here may be used to teach skills to children of a wide range of ages, but the content and examples will focus specifically on toddlers and preschool-age children (i.e., ages 2-6).

evidence-based-instructional-practices-responsiveThis website can be used as a teaching tool for early childhood practitioners, parents/caregivers, or any professionals who work with young children. In addition to written procedures for each strategy, you’ll find data sheets and cheat sheets that are easy to download and use in the home or classroom. You’ll also find demonstration videos, which can supplement the written procedures by showing you how the strategies look in context. These videos and downloadable materials can also be used by professors and trainers to augment instruction for persons new to the field of Early Childhood Education or Special Education.

Note that the evidence-based practices described on these pages are not exhaustive. For additional resources regarding evidence-based instructional practices for young children, please see the list of peer-reviewed articles below, as well as the following websites:

What kinds of skills can I teach children using the evidence-based strategies on this website?evidence-based-instructional-practices-slide_2

The evidence-based strategies on
this website are intended for use by practitioners and caregivers to teach a very wide range of skills. Though we often think of pre-academic and academic skills when we talk about instruction, evidence-based instructional strategies can be used to teach skills in every area of development:

  • cognitive skills (pre-academic and academic skills, like reading words and answering math facts)
  • social-emotional skills (asking for a turn with a toy, greeting peers)
  • fine and gross motor skills (cutting with scissors, engaging in physical activity on the playground)
  • communication skills (asking for a turn with a toy, pointing to a desired object, maintaining conversations with peers)
  • adaptive skills (washing hands, toileting, putting on a coat)
  • play skills (taking turns with a toy, putting shapes in a shape sorter, stacking blocks)


When considering what you will teach young children, especially consider teaching skills that serve as behavioral cusps. A behavioral cusp is any behavior change that allows Evidence-based-instuctional-practices-smilesthe child access to many new contexts and opportunities for learning. For example, by teaching a child to imitate the actions of others, you open up the opportunity for that child to learn countless new skills. He can now learn new play skills by watching his peers play, new fine motor skills by watching you model them, and new hand-clapping games by watching other children engage in them at circle time. In addition to imitation, other skills that qualify as behavioral cusps include engagement with materials, initiation, communication, play skills, and mobility skills (e.g., walking, crawling).

Peer-Reviewed References Regarding Evidence Based Practices:

  • Cook, B. G., & Odom, S. L. (2013).  Evidence-based practices and implementation science in special education. Exceptional Children, 79, 135-144.
  • Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Halle, J., & McGee, G. (2005). The use of single-subject research to identify evidence-based practice in special education. Exceptional Children, 71, 165-179.
  • Ledford, J. R., King, S., Harbin, E. R., & Zimmerman, K. N. (2016). Antecedent social skills interventions for individuals with ASD: What works, for whom, and under what conditions? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. doi: 10.1177/1088357616634024
  • Odom, S. L., & Strain, P. S. (2002). Evidence-based practice in early intervention/early childhood special education: Single-subject design research. Journal of Early Intervention, 25, 151-160.
  • Odom, S. L., & Wolery, M. (2003). A unified theory of practice in early intervention/early childhood special education. The Journal of Special Education, 37, 164-173.
  • Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., …Schultz, T. R. (2014). Evidenced-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

To cite this page (APA 6th edition):

  • Chazin, K.T. & Ledford, J.R. (2016). An overview of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs). In Evidence-based instructional practices for young children with autism and other disabilities. Retrieved from http://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/ebip/