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

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Symposium #334
CE Offered: BACB
Show Me: An Experimental Validation of Direct Instruction Procedures for Children with Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 26, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Continental C
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Robert F. Littleton Jr. (Evergreen Center)
Discussant: Robert K. Ross (BEACON Services)
CE Instructor: Ann Filer, M.Ed.

In the 1977 evaluation of Project Follow Through, Direct Instruction (DI) students outperformed control group students and students in the other experimental programs on all academic measures: DI students moved from the 20th percentile (typical performance for children of poverty) to approximately the 50th percentile (typical performance for mainstream students). Research on the effectiveness of DI with other special needs populations has focused predominately on high-incidence disabilities (learning disabilities, communication anbehavior disorders, mild mental retardation) while investigations regarding the effectiveness of DI with low-incidence disabilities (autism, TBImoderate to severe mental retardation) appear infrequently in the literature (e.g. Journal of Direct Instruction, Vol. 5, No. 1). Although anecdotal accounts concerning the effectiveness of DI procedures with the moderate to severe population have been reported (e.g. Filer and Kozma, CCBS Autism Conference, 2006), experimental validation of DI methodology has been infrequent. The present symposium is a review of three single-subject research projects that investigate group vs. individual instruction, the promotion of math and reading fluency development, and responding to WH questions. Positive outcomes and limitations of DI methodology for individuals with moderate to severe disabilities will be discussed and implications for future research will be addressed.

Fluency Training: The Comparative Effects of Direct Instruction and Reinforcement Procedures on Mathematics and Reading Fluency in Children with Developmental Disabilities.
WENDY L. KOZMA (BEACON Services), Gordon A. DeFalco (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: Increasing the reading fluency (i.e., the number of words read correctly per minute) of children is an important characteristic of improved reading skill. Similarly, fluency in basic mathematics (i.e., the number of basic mathematics problems solved correctly per minute) facts positively influences correct solution of multiple-step mathematics problems. Students with learning challenges, however, are at-risk of not acquiring sufficient reading and mathematics skills if fluency is not systematically and explicitly taught. Accordingly, this study addressed the effectiveness of Direct Instruction in developing reading and mathematics fluency in students with learning challenges. Secondarily, the relative contribution of reinforcing accuracy and speed compared to Direct Instruction methods alone was evaluated. An alternating treatments design (i.e., direct instruction/direct instruction + reinforcement) across lessons was used with 3 students with a diagnosis of MRDD and/or autism to evaluate the effectiveness of Direct Instruction in developing reading and mathematics fluency. Results indicated that Direct Instruction was effective in developing fluency; however, when contingent reinforcement of accuracy and speed was added to Direct Instruction methods fluency was achieved in less teaching sessions. Discussion will focus on the efficacy of Direct Instruction and adapted strategies to facilitate Direct Instruction teaching for people with developmental disabilities.
Who, What, Where, and When: Direct Instruction Finds the Answer to These Questions.
WENDY L. KOZMA (BEACON Services), Gordon A. DeFalco (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: While many factors influence language fluency development, students with learning challenges are at risk for not acquiring a sufficient number of essential language skills if such skills are not systematically and explicitly taught. Language for Learning is a Direct Instruction language skills development program designed to accelerate the development of language fluency across numerous concepts, skills, and learning objectives. This study addressed the effectiveness of Direct Instruction on correct responding and generalization to answering “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where” questions as taught within the constructs of Language for Learning lesson formats. Multiple baseline probes across question types with 10 questions per probe were used to assess the effectiveness of Direct Instruction methodology for 4 participants who showed deficiencies in answering questions in at least 2 of the “Wh” question types. Generalization was assessed with 10 “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where” questions that participants were exposed to 1 time before and 1 time after Direct Instruction training. Results demonstrated the effectiveness of Direct Instruction in teaching correct answers to “Wh” type questions and facilitating generalized responding to a probe presented before and after criterion was reached for each “Wh” question type.
Individual or Group Instruction? The Winner is . . .
ANN FILER (BEACON Services), Katie H. Artiano (BEACON Services), Gordon A. DeFalco (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: Individual instruction is known to be an effective teaching format for instructing students with mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and/or autism, especially within private settings and early childhood settings, where funding is available to support a one-to-one teacher to student ratio. In public schools, however, group instruction is more typical, partly because of funding constraints. In the current study, the effectiveness of a structured curriculum, Direct Instruction (DI), designed for group instruction with typically developing children, was adapted for use with children with developmental disabilities. This study consisted of an alternating treatments design, where teaching was alternated between individual and group instruction. Specifically, the acquisition of DI language concepts was measured by assessing the number of trials required to reach a set criteria, when taught within an individual versus group instructional format. In addition, attending behavior, i.e., orient to peer and imitate peer responses, was evaluated during group lessons and eventually taught. Results demonstrated that group teaching was effective, utilizing a structured teaching methodology in the form of DI. In addition, attending behavior, important for group learning was taught using verbal prompting and modeling. This study explores the impact of group versus individual instruction on lesson progress. Behavior associated with joint attention was also evaluated. Other methods of promoting group learning will be discussed.



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