Jason Travers

Life’s a Pitch! Distinguishing Between Evidence-Based, Unproven, and Pseudoscientific Interventions in Special Education

Jason Travers, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Education is rife with controversial, unproven, and pseudoscientific interventions. Initiatives often are undertaken based information provided by publishers that reflect current fads that have limited or unreliable evidence. Unfortunately, providing lists of questionable, ineffective, and evidence-based practices is an ineffective deterrent because fads emerge with astonishing speed and confusion abounds about the meaning of “evidence-based practice.” These issues are compounded by slick advertising, enticing testimonials, and bad science and are used to promote sensory integration treatments, balanced literacy, and full inclusion, to name a few. This session will provide attendees with tools to evaluate claims of intervention and program efficacy in order to avoid pseudoscientific and unproven initiatives and interventions. Prominent myths about teaching and learning will be shared along with ways to distinguish between high and low-quality evidence and reliable sources when making decisions about an intervention or initiative. A question and answer session will follow to allow attendees to share experiences, explore issues, and seek solutions to this complex and important problem.


Dr. Jason Travers is an assistant professor in the special education department at Kansas University. Jason earned his doctorate at University of Nevada Las Vegas and is a former public school special educator for learners with autism. He researches the effects of shared active surface technology on academic, communicative, and social-behavioral skills of learners with autism. Additional research interests include trends in racially disparate identification of students in the autism eligibility category, equitable access to early intervention, comprehensive sexuality education for learners with autism, and evidence-based practices in special education.