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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #141
Extensions in Empirical Methods of Behavioral Assessment
Sunday, May 25, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W179b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Linda J. Cooper-Brown (The University of Iowa)

There is an ongoing need for the refinement of assessment methodologies of problem behavior in order to enhance treatment strategies. For example, assessment procedures that accurately and efficiently identify maintaining variables of problem behavior allow for more precise and individualized treatment planning. The current symposium includes three presentations that address recent advances in assessment technology. First, Keith Lit will present a study on the use of a correlated reinforcement contingency to assess the operant component of inattention to academic tasks. Stephanie Trauschke will then present on an assessment method to evaluate problem behavior and potential reflexive-conditioned motivating operations when using a visual timer during transitions. Finally, Jillian Benson will present on the use of cumulative records as a beneficial alternative to the exclusive use of latency to first occurrence data in evaluation of response class hierarchies. Collectively, these presentations will provide information on the extension of empirical methods of assessment of problem behavior.

Keyword(s): Behavior Assessment
Correlating Reinforcer Magnitude and Response Rate to Assess the Operant Component of Inattention
KEITH LIT (Nova Southeastern University), F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University), Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute), Jillian Benson (Nova Southeastern University), John Borgen (Nova Southeastern University), Brenna Cavanaugh (Nova Southeastern University), Stephanie Trauschke (Nova Southeastern University), Danielle Tarver (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: Inattention and lack of engagement in tasks are commonly reported in children with academic and learning difficulties. Often, these problems are assumed to have a biological basis. However, the influence of operant contingencies on attending behavior indicates that inattention may be conceptualized, at least in part, as allocation of behavior on a concurrent schedule of reinforcement. That is, inattentive behavior may be choice behavior and may be altered by manipulating the variables that influence preference, such as relative magnitude of reinforcement. In this study we used a form of correlated reinforcement, rate-dependent reinforcer magnitude (RDRM), to assess the operant component of inattentive behavior in children with learning difficulties. Participants showed significantly higher levels of task engagement when reinforcer magnitude was directly linked to response rate compared to a constant magnitude of reinforcement linked only to task completion. Results are discussed in the context of matching theory and the development of behavior analytic assessment methods of inattention.
Assessment of Signaled Transitions as a Reflexive Conditioned Motivating Operation
STEPHANIE TRAUSCHKE (Nova Southeastern University), Kenneth Shamlian (Nova Southeastern University), Iriny Boules (Nova Southeastern University), John Borgen (Nova Southeastern University), Brenna Cavanaugh (Nova Southeastern University), F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) frequently present with sensitivity to transitions from locations and activities. Interventions to address this sensitivity to transitions may improve the quality of life for these children and their families. This study presents a method to assess whether a CMO-R is effective in reducing evocations of target behaviors. Various transitions from one location and activity to another location and activity were identified. Data was taken from the initial setting, through the transition, and into the final setting (a) with a timer to signal the transition and (b) without a timer to signal the transition. Order of activities, setting, and conditions were counterbalanced across trials. Those transitions that were correlated with moderate to high rates of target behavior at baseline were targeted for intervention to evaluate the effects of a timer as a Reflexive Conditioned Motivating Operation (CMO-R) on evocations of target behaviors. Results suggest that rates of target behaviors were lower when the timer was present than the rates of target behaviors when the timer was not present during a transition, particularly when transitioning to a low-preferred activity.
Cumulative Record Versus Latency to First Occurrence to Analyze A Response Class Hierarchy
JILLIAN BENSON (Nova Southeastern University), Keith Lit (Nova Southeastern University), Stephanie Trauschke (Nova Southeastern University), Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute), F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: A response class hierarchy is a set of topographically similar or dissimilar behaviors that serve the same function, with some responses being more probable than others. Response class hierarchy analyses are often used in clinical settings to identify a sequence of problem behaviors observed in children with severe behavior disorders. A data collection procedure that measures the latency to first occurrence for each problem behavior has frequently been used to identify escalating sequences of problem behavior of different topographies during these assessments. The current study evaluated the problem behaviors of a 12 year-old male diagnosed with autistic disorder. Problem behaviors were examined using an alternative data collection procedure. Rather than using latency to first occurrence, cumulative frequency data were collected during an extended extinction session. Results suggest that cumulative record data may be a beneficial addition to the exclusive use of latency to first occurrence data.



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