Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #15
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluation of Teaching Parameters During Discrete Trial Instruction
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Continental B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: M. Alice Shillingsburg (The Marcus Institute)
Discussant: Mary Jane Weiss (Rutgers University)
CE Instructor: M. Alice Shillingsburg, Ph.D.

This symposium presents three empirical papers on specific teaching variables used during discrete trial instruction. The first two papers offer an examination of specific therapist variables related to social effect and physical orientation during teaching. The Kisamore paper examines the results of high and low quality social attention on problem behavior. The Rivera paper extend this analysis to include therapist effect and teaching position (i.e., in front, behind, beside) on rates of maladaptive behavior, percent of time on task and skill acquisition. Finally, the Valentino paper examines the effect of pace of instruction on problem behavior.

Effects of Varying the Quality of Therapist-Provided Social Interaction during Instruction.
APRIL N. KISAMORE (Western Michigan University), M. Alice Shillingsburg (The Marcus Institute), Andrew A. Fulton (The Marcus Institute), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University)
Abstract: When teaching children with developmental delays we often employ the use of higher quality social reinforcement in the form of enthusiastic praise and physical attention. However, there is little empirical evidence for the value of this form of reinforcement. Several studies have investigated the effects of the quality of tangible reinforcers, the effects of delaying the reinforcer, and the effects of the rate of reinforcer presentation on choice responding (Mace et al., 1996, Neef et al., 1993, & Neef et al., 1992). Specifically, studies have examined the effects of high and low preference items on response rate (Graff et al., 2006) and the effects of the quality of reinforcement on problem behavior (Piazza et al., 1999; Richman & Hagopian, 1999). The current study examined the effects of varying the quality of social reinforcement during teaching with two children with language delays. The quality of therapist-provided social reinforcement varied in terms of voice intonation, physical attention, and facial expression. The effects of the varied social reinforcement on correct responding and problem behavior were examined in an instructional setting.
An Evaluation of the Effects of Instructor Behavior on Skill Acquisition and Inappropriate Behavior in Learners with Autism.
TINA ZORRILLA RIVERA (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), May Chriseline Beaubrun (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Ryan Madigan (Rutgers University), David Kieval (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Mary Jane Weiss (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center)
Abstract: During intervention with learners with autism, practitioners generally monitor the behavior of the students they are working with. Dependent variables commonly recorded include time on task, percent of trials correct, rate of correct responding, and rate of maladaptive behavior. However, teaching staff rarely evaluate the effects of their own behavior on the rate of acquisition for the learners they work with. For instance, a therapist’s position or disposition (i.e., affect) may greatly affect the attending behavior of learners with autism. In addition, the effects on the attending behavior of these learners may vary considerably across students. In the current investigation, rates of skill acquisition and inappropriate behavior are compared when therapist behavior is manipulated. Therapist variables evaluated include therapist affect (high and low intensity) and therapist position (in front, to the side, and from behind). The effects of these variables on rates of maladaptive behavior, percent of time on task and skill acquisition are evaluated. Results are discussed in terms of individualizing instruction to the needs of different learners with autism. Implications for staff training will be discussed as well.
Some Effects of Pace of Instruction on Problem Behavior.
AMBER L. VALENTINO (The Marcus Institute), Crystal N. Bowen (The Marcus Institute), M. Alice Shillingsburg (The Marcus Institute), Nathan Call (The Marcus Institute), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University)
Abstract: Discrete-trial training (DTT) is commonly used to treat language and pre-academic skill deficits in children diagnosed with autism. Although DTT is often an effective teaching method, previous research has not produced a comprehensive analysis of the training parameters that are most likely to produce acquisition and maintain low levels of competing behavior. Previous research has suggested that length of intertrial interval (pace of instruction) is a variable that can influence the number of trials to criterion, final performance, and stability during teaching situations (Holt & Schafer, 1973). Carnine (1976) investigated the effects of pace of instruction during reading instruction and found that a fast pace was accompanied by a lower percent occurrence of off task behavior for two participants. Additionally, research has shown that faster-paced instruction may produce more rapid skill acquisition than slower-paced instruction (Koegel, Dunlap, & Dyer, 1980). In the current study, we assessed the effects of the pace of instruction on the occurrence of problem behavior for individuals exposed to DTT using a reversal design. As suggested by Koegel et al., utilizing this information can be important in selecting the optimal interval for teaching children with autism.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh