ASHA journals
5 files

Exploring classroom factors and AAC use (Quinn et al., 2023)

online resource
posted on 2023-07-25, 19:41 authored by Emily D. Quinn, Kristi Atkins, Alexandria Cook

Purpose: This qualitative study explores classroom contextual factors influencing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) use in early childhood classrooms.

Method: Semistructured interviews were conducted with six special education teachers, 13 speech-language pathologists (SLPs), and one SLP assistant. Interviews were analyzed inductively in a systematic, multistep coding process using the constant comparative method with member checking.

Results: Seven themes were identified that affected AAC use in the classroom. Each theme was organized into three categories: individual-, classroom-, or school-level factors. Three themes were categorized as individual-level factors: Students’ AAC systems are unavailable, professionals face challenges obtaining AAC knowledge and skills, and students’ disruptive behaviors reduce access to AAC. One theme was a classroom-level factor: Classroom demands prevent AAC use. Finally, three themes were considered school-level factors: The culture of AAC influences AAC acceptance, team collaboration is essential for successful implementation, and teams need administrative support to deliver AAC interventions effectively.

Conclusions: Teachers and SLPs felt that collaborative teams with AAC expertise, a school culture that endorsed AAC, and solid administrative support accelerated AAC adoption by normalizing AAC use in the classroom. Due to classroom demands, they struggled to use strategies such as aided AAC modeling and responsiveness during group instruction. Finally, participants emphasized that while it was necessary to customize AAC systems for each student, this individualization makes it harder for staff to learn each system and integrate them into classroom activities.

Supplemental Material S1. Positionality statements.

Supplemental Material S2. AAC use survey results.

Supplemental Material S3. Interview guide.

Supplemental Material S4. Research memo format.

Supplemental Material S5. Member checking survey.

Quinn, E. D., Atkins, K., & Cook, A. (2023). Exploring classroom factors and augmentative and alternative communication use in qualitative interviews. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 32(5), 2158–2177.


The National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences Grant R324B190024 (Oregon Health & Science University, principal investigator: Emily D. Quinn) and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Grant HS026370 supported this work.