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 #189
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research on Effective Educational Technologies: Meeting the Needs of Individual Students
Sunday, May 25, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W186 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DDA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Elizabeth Dayton (Melmark)
CE Instructor: Christopher J. Perrin, Ph.D.

A critical factor in determining the educational outcome for students with disabilities is the use of effective educational practices. Central to effective teaching is tailoring instruction to meet the unique needs of each student. Educators of individuals with disabilities are often faced with the challenges of reducing behaviors that compete with academic engagement, identifying reinforcers sufficiently potent to maintain responding on academic targets, and selecting effective prompting strategies. The current symposium presents recent research in each of these areas. The first study presents a protocol for identifying stimuli that function as reinforcers without promoting stereotypic/repetitive behavior. The second study examines the interactive effects of preference and response effort and discusses the implications of such interactions when choosing reinforcers for behavioral programming. The third study operationalizes graduated guidance as a prompting procedure, determines student-specific delays to prompt, and compares graduated guidance to most-to-least prompting with a delay. Each presentation will include a discussion of the implications of the findings to effective programming for students with disabilities.

Keyword(s): competing items, prompting strategies, reinforcer assessment

Evaluating the Reinforcing Effectiveness of Three Different Types of Stimuli Identified by a Competing Stimulus Assessment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

SOYEON KANG (The University of Texas at Austin), Mark O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Austin), Laura Rojeski (The University of Texas at Austin), Heather Koch (The University of Texas at Austin), Garrett Roberts (The University of Texas at Austin)

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have unique core characteristics that require specialized and individualized intervention approaches. Stereotypic/repetitive(S/R) behavior is one of the core features of ASD. During a preference assessment, children with ASD who show this behavior are likely to select the items with which they can engage in their S/R behavior. The identified highly preferred items are usually provided as reinforcers during behavioral interventions. Considering that a reduction of S/R behavior is a frequent aim of behavioral interventions, it is contradictory when the given reinforcers during the intervention unintentionally encourage it. Therefore the reinforcers used for this population need to be cautiously selected by considering their unique behavioral characteristics. In order to find alternative efficient reinforcers, this study compared the effects of three different types of stimuli in terms of reinforcing value and occurrence of S/R behavior: a) a tangible that is associated with high engagement and suppresses stereotyped behavior; b) a tangible that is associated with high engagement but does not suppress stereotyped behavior; and c) a form of social interaction. The participants were three children, aged 4 to 7 years old, with ASD. The three stimuli were identified through a competing stimulus assessment and then evaluated for their reinforcing power via a reinforcer assessment. The results will be discussed with respect to identifying efficient reinforcers that match the unique behavioral characteristic of ASD. Considerations when making reinforcement decisions for this population will also be discussed.


Evaluation of Progressive Ratio Reinforcement Schedules in Clinical Practice: Matching Reinforcer Strength to Response Effort

CHRISTOPHER J. PERRIN (Georgian Court University, Melmark), Elizabeth Dayton (Melmark), Jennifer Hanson (Melmark), Lauren Davison (Melmark), Jennie Dorothea England (Melmark)

Preference assessments are frequently used to identify stimuli which will later be used as reinforcers during behavioral programming. However, the identified stimuli do not always function as reinforcers for academic responses when presented contingently. This lack of reinforcing efficacy may be the case if the effort required to complete a particular task is greater than the reinforcing value of the preferred stimulus. Reinforcer assessments that utilize progressive ratio schedules are uniquely designed to assess such interactions. The purpose of the current study was to examine the interactive effects of item preference and response effort on task completion by children with developmental disabilities. Progressive ratio schedules were used to determine whether stimuli identified in a structured preference assessment would maintain responding across three tasks of varying response effort and to identify the break point for each item. High preferred, moderately preferred, and low preferred items were assessed. Results and the implications for designing effective behavioral programs will be discussed.

A Preliminary Investigation of Graduated Guidance
LINSEY M. SABIELNY (DePaul University), Helen Irene Malone (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Graduated guidance is a response prompting and fading procedure that incorporates physical prompts in the transfer of stimulus control. It is a unique procedure in that it does not have specific criteria or guidelines for changing prompt level, instead relying on the student as an indicator of when and how to prompt. Because of its flexibility, it would be beneficial to develop an operational definition and prompting guidelines, and to compare it to other effective prompting procedures. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to operationalize graduated guidance as a prompting procedure, and to compare it to most-to-least prompting with a delay in the acquisition of daily living skills for five individuals with significant disabilities. An adapted alternating treatments design was used across two sets of participants with prompting strategies counterbalanced across tasks. Results demonstrated that both prompting procedures led to improvements for all tasks. However, of the four tasks that reached mastery criterion, three were taught using graduated guidance. In addition, graduated guidance resulted in fewer trials to mastery, fewer errors, fewer intrusive prompts, and fewer overall prompts as compared to most-to-least prompting with a delay. Areas for future research and implications for practice were outlined as well.



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