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Research Process and Scholarship

A guide for capstone and thesis students

Single Subject Research

Single-subject studies focus on a single participant. Several participants may be part of the study, but data collected only compares changes for the individual and not between study members. It employs scientific method to evaluate efficacy of interventions and is used in research as a means to evaluate practice to improve outcomes.  This contribution to evidence-based practice (EBP) is frequently used in education classrooms, special education, school psychology and health care.

  • Phase A: Baseline - A pattern of behavior is observed and data is collected related to desired behavior change
  • Phase B: Intervention - Based on desired goals, an intervention is implemented and changes in behavior are measured over time


  • McClain, M., Otero, T., Haut, J., & Schatz, R. (2014). Single subject design in educational research: The use of effect size measures in analysis and interpretation. SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi:10.4135/978144627305014534173
  • Quantitative research methodologies. (2008). In Drew, C. J., Hardman, M. L., & Hosp, J. L. Designing and Conducting Research in Education (pp. 137-164). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781483385648
  • Single-subject design. (2012). In Check, J., & Schutt, R. Research Methods in Education(pp. 213-236). 55 City Road, London: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781544307725 

Begin with one of the single-subject study article searches from ALL EBSCO

To focus the topic, consider adding some of the following concepts

  • grade level
  • subject area
  • gender, race, age, culture, etc.
  • problem or issue (such as behavior or literacy)

Have fun mixing and matching to narrow down your specific research questions.


Follow the links to the journal articles below. The information in the Detailed Article Record will help you determine whether or not the article describes an original research study. When it does, you can often identify the research design used. Look for clues in the subject terms and abstract/summary.  If you hover over the information icon next to the following articles, notice that each description mentions single-subject or single case design.