Learning in Everyday Contexts: Embedded Instruction for Early Learning


Embedded instruction is used to meet children’s needs by providing opportunities to learn and practice important skills in the context of their daily lives. The Anita Zucker Center has received multiple grants to employ embedded instruction in early childhood classrooms and in families’ homes in Florida, Tennessee, California and nationwide, especially with children who have or are at risk for disabilities.

Embedded Instruction

Embedded instruction is an approach that promotes child engagement and learning in everyday activities, routines and transitions. Studies have demonstrated its acceptance by teachers and feasibility for use in the preschool classroom.



Overview: The Impact of Professional Development on Preschool Teachers’ Use of Embedded Instruction Practices is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences in collaboration with Vanderbilt University. The project compares several approaches to professional development to determine which are efficacious for helping teachers implement embedded instruction practices with young children with disabilities. Researchers will examine the impact of the intervention on the quality of teachers’ embedded instruction practices, including the number of learning opportunities provided to young children during different types of classroom activities. For the children involved in the study, social and adaptive behaviors and pre-academic, language and literacy outcomes will be evaluated. This study was developed from an earlier IES-funded project.

Participants:  More than 80 preschool classrooms and 108 teachers in Florida and Tennessee participated in this study. The Teaching Pyramid system was used with all students in the preschool classroom, the research team specifically targeted children with or at risk for emotional or behavior disorders.

Findings: This project is funded from July 2015 through June 2019, findings will be available after July 2019.

Research Collaborators: 

  • University of Florida> Patricia Snyder, PI; James Algina, Co-PI; Mary McLean, Co-PI; Brian Reichow, Investigator; Crystal Bishop, project coordinator; Joy Polignano, data manager. 
  • Vanderbilt University> Mary Louise Hemmeter, Co-PI; Catherine Corr, project coordinator.

Visit Project Website


Overview: The purpose of this project is to adapt, pilot, and evaluate a professional development package that focuses on embedded instruction for early learning. The project was designed for California preschool teachers serving children with individualized education programs in Fresno and Santa Clara offices of Education, and Los Angeles Unified School District. Embedded instruction involves intentional teaching of individual child learning goals within the context of routine classroom activities, routines, and transitions. The goal is to support teachers to use embedded instruction practices with preschool children with or at risk for disabilities using a variation of the Tools for Teachers, professional development program. The project team is working with local educational agencies within California to support teacher implementation of the practices, building on and strengthening teachers’ knowledge of assessment and curriculum. A key focus will help to help teachers use the Desired Results Developmental Profile assessment to inform planned and intentional embedded instruction practices for children with disabilities.

Participants: Teachers, families, and children in two school districts (Los Angeles Unified and Fresno) and one county office of education (Santa Clara)

Findings: This project is funded from July 2015 through June 2016, findings will be available after June 2016.

Research Collaborators: 

  • University of Florida> Patricia Snyder, PI, Mary McLean, Co-PI. 
  • California Department of Education> Shelia Self, Special Education, California Department of Education.

Visit Project Website