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Data Science for Dynamic Intervention Decision-making Lab

Getting SMART About Adaptive Interventions in Education

A four-day workshop on adaptive interventions and sequential multiple-assignment randomized trials (SMART) in education.

Date of Training

March 17-20, 2020 The workshop will begin at 8:30AM EST on Tuesday, March 17th and will end by 1:00PM EST on Friday, March 20th. Application Period The application portal will open on Monday, September 16, 2019 and close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, December 1, 2019. Selected scholars will be notified on January 31, 2020. To apply for the 2020 Getting SMART Institute, click here

Who Should Apply?

Anyone with a doctoral degree who is interested in learning more about adaptive interventions in education and in the use of sequentially-randomized trials to build high-quality adaptive interventions is encouraged to apply.


Each scholar should: (a) have a graduate doctoral degree; (b) be working in early intervention, education, or special education; and (c) be a citizen or non-citizen national of the United States, or must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence (i.e., valid I-551, or other legal verification of such status).

Fee or Costs

There is no registration fee. However, scholars who are accepted must arrange for their own travel expenses (e.g., transportation, lodging in Ann Arbor). A limited number of travel scholarships will be awarded to scholars who are unable to fund their own travel; scholars can apply for scholarships after they are notified of their selection.

For questions or to request additional information, click here

Workshop Location

The workshop will be held at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) located at 426 Thompson Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  


The goal of this four-day training is to promote ongoing professional development among education scientists interested in conducting research on adaptive interventions. This includes training in the design, conduct and analysis of sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMART). Format Time will be spent in lecture, discussion, Q&A, brainstorming sessions, small group work (practicum) and software demonstration. Lectures are provided by methodological scientists who are experts in research on adaptive interventions, and by intervention scientists (guest experts) who have conducted studies of adaptive interventions in education.


Enrollment is limited to approximately 30 scholars.

Topics Covered

  • Adaptive Interventions
  • Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trials
  • SMART Case Studies
  • Analysis of Data Arising from a SMART
  • Preparing for a SMART
  • Pilot SMART
  • Other Experimental Designs in Research on Adaptive Interventions

Full agenda to come. See next tab to view Workshop Materials from 2019.

Below you will find PDF files of the didactic modules and background articles from the four content experts for the 2019 Getting SMART About Adaptive Interventions in Education Institute. Click on the links below to download.    

Workshop Instructors include d3lab researchers, who focus on the development, application and dissemination of methods for building optimized adaptive interventions. In addition, the workshop includes Content Experts, who have experience in conducting research on adaptive interventions in education, and a Guest Speaker.


Daniel Almirall is Co-Principal Investigator of the Getting SMART research training institute. An expert in causal inference and randomized trial design, he has over 10 years of experience training behavioral and education scientists on research methods for adaptive interventions, including the design, conduct and analysis of SMARTs.


Inbal (Billie) Nahum-Shani is Co-Principal In vestigator of the Getting SMART research training institute. An expert in behavioral intervention design and theory, she has over 10 years of experience training behavioral and education scientists on research for adaptive interventions and just-in-time adaptive interventions, including the conduct and analysis of SMARTs.


Connie Kasari will be a Content Expert. A leading international expert in the development and evaluation of interventions for children with autism, she will describe her pioneering research on optimized adaptive interventions in children with autism. Dr. Kasari is Principal Investigator of the first-three sequentially-randomized trials ever conducted in the field of autism.


William Pelham will be a Content Expert. A leading international expert in the development and evaluation of interventions for children with ADHD, he will describe his pioneering research on developing an optimized adaptive intervention involving behavioral modification and medication for children with ADHD. Dr. Pelham is Principal Investigator of the first-ever sequentially-randomized trial in ADHD.


Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel will be a Content Expert. A leading expert in the development and evaluation of interventions for adolescent depression, she will describe her experiences designing and conducting a Pilot SMART to examine acceptability and feasibility concerns in the development of an adaptive intervention for adolescents with depression, and how this preliminary work led to a Hybrid Type-I Effectiveness-Implementation SMART.


Gregory Roberts will be a Content Expert. A leading expert in the development of school-wide and individual-level interventions for improving literacy across childhood and adolescence, he will describe his research on developing and evaluating response-to-intervention (RTI) models in education and their connection with adaptive interventions for enhancing educational outcomes.


Veronica Fleury will be a Guest Speaker. An expert in the identification and validation of instructional strategies to address academic difficulties for young children with autism, she will provide an overview of adaptive interventions in education and describe her interests in developing an adaptive intervention for optimizing emergent literacy in children with autism.


Ahnalee Brincks will be an Instructor. Her research focuses on identifying and addressing heterogeneity in response to intervention in an effort to better understand how and for whom preventive interventions are most effective.  She has several years of experience as an instructor of adaptive interventions and SMART designs.


Shawna Smith will be an Instructor. An implementation scientist interested in developing adaptive implementation interventions, she has more than five years of experience training behavioral and clinical scientists in research methods for adaptive interventions and just-in-time adaptive interventions, and in designing and analyzing clustered SMARTs and micro-randomized trials.

What is an adaptive intervention?

Adaptive interventions use a sequence of decision rules that guide whether, how, or when—and, importantly, based on which measures—to make critical decisions about interventions in education settings. This includes whether, how or when to alter the dosage (duration, frequency, or amount), type, or delivery of interventions to students (or organizations). These interventions seek to address the individual and changing needs of students (or organizations) as they progress through an intervention.

What is a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART)?

A SMART is a type of multi-stage, experimental design that was developed explicitly for constructing effective adaptive interventions. In a SMART, some or all participants are randomized multiple times over the course of the study. The multiple, sequential randomizations in a SMART enable researchers to efficiently address multiple scientific questions concerning the selection and individualization of intervention options at various decision points of an AI.

Why is this workshop needed?

Despite the critical role adaptive interventions already play (and will continue to play) in various domains of education, experimental research aiming to systematically optimize adaptive interventions in education is still in its infancy. SMARTs are experimental designs that enable scientists to address multiple scientific questions for optimizing a high-quality AI, but because SMARTs are relatively new, most educational researchers have not been exposed to them as part of their formal training. While research on AIs and SMART methods has grown significantly in the past few years, there is currently no comprehensive training in AIs and SMARTs in education. This workshop attempts to fill this gap.

We would like to thank the Institute for Education Sciences, all of the administrators, content experts and scholars for a successful 2019 training institute!

Dr. Daniel Almirall Giving A Talk On Experimental Designs For Adaptive Interventions.

2019 Scholar Biographies

This training institute is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant Number R324B180003 to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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