Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


James Epps

Committee Member

James Miller


autism, intellectual disabilities, structured work system, independent work system, teaching strategies


This study investigated the effects of a method to support higher levels of independent performance and generalization of skills using a structured work system with a visual schedule when teaching online task completion skills to high school students with ASD and intellectual disabilities. Students with ASD and intellectual disabilities are typically deficient in independent skills. They often struggle to initiate and complete tasks on their own. By learning to complete tasks independently, high school students with ASD and intellectual disabilities gain essential life skills needed for employment. Structured work systems, along with visual schedules, have shown to be useful in teaching sequence, independence, and generalization of skills. The researcher examined a structured work system strategy adapted from the Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children and Adults (TEACCH®) approach. The structured work system combines several strategies, including visual schedules, structured work systems, a structured environment, organized materials, and applied behavior analysis (ABA) strategies (prompts and reinforcers) that comprise the structured teaching approach. This approach is followed at the TEACCH® centers and adapted by therapists and educators who work with students who lack the skills to work independently. A multiple-baseline design across participants explored if a structured work system and a visual schedule can increase task completion while reducing the need for constant adult support. The researcher examined the data results and determined that combining strategies significantly increased three self-contained high school student’s level of independence when completing multiple-step tasks. The increase in independent task completion occurred after introducing the structured work system. The structured work system decreased their need for adult prompting, and the participants demonstrated generalization skills across settings, persons, and tasks. Participants maintained their independent levels of accurately completing the tasks with minimal levels of prompting needed three weeks post-treatment. The structured work system is individualized to meet student needs and easily implemented by educators, parents, and other interventionists in various settings.