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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #394
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in Teaching and Assessing Observational Learning in Individuals With Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 29, 2017
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 2/3
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group)
CE Instructor: Jaime DeQuinzio, Ph.D.

This symposium highlights three recent studies evaluating variables that affect the assessment and treatment of observational learning deficits by people with autism and developmental disabilities. In the first study, researchers compared the use of adult models versus peer models on the learning of long response chains via observational learning. All participants showed faster acquisition in the presence of peer models as opposed to adult models. In the second study, observational learning responses including attending, imitation, delayed imitation, and consequence discrimination were first assessed in all participants. A multiple baseline design across five tasks (i.e., hidden item, computer game, academic, construction toy, and building) was used to evaluate the effects of video modeling on the acquisition of observational learning responses. Post training measures showed that all participants learned to engage in observational learning responses across all five tasks with the implementation of the video model. In the final study, researchers incorporated known and unknown stimuli into observational learning training. When targets known to the participant were used, participants learned to continue to respond correctly despite correct and incorrect responses modeled by adults. When targets unknown to participants were used, participants learned to imitate modeled responses that were followed by reinforcement, and to say, I dont know when modeled responses were followed by punishment. All three studies demonstrate the importance of evaluating factors that contribute to observational learning and the value of incorporating observational learning protocols into instruction.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assessment, discrimination training, modeling, observational learning

Comparing the Efficacy of Peer Versus Staff Models on Observational Learning in Adults With Developmental Disorders

MARIELA CASTRO (University of Nevada, Reno), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)

We compared the effectiveness of a peer and staff model on observational learning by four adults with developmental disabilities. An alternating treatment design was used to evaluate the effects of a staff-as-model and peer-as-model condition. Results indicated that all four participants acquired the skill at a faster rate in the peer-as-model condition. Generalization and maintenance of the skills acquired with both models was also evaluated. Implications of programming for observational learning in education and habilitation settings are discussed.


Assessing Observational Learning With Video Models in Children Diagnosed With Autism

LESLIE QUIROZ (The New England Center for Children), Jacquelyn M. MacDonald (Regis College), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)

Observational learning is a critical repertoire that is likely necessary for the acquisition of certain social behavior and learning in educational settings. Catania (2013) defined observational learning (OL) as learning from observing anothers behavior and subsequently emitting behavior based upon the consequences that followed the models behavior. Although OL occurs early in typically developing children, research has found that OL may be limited in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In MacDonald and Ahearn (2015) following an assessment of prerequisite skills for OL (attending, imitation, delayed imitation, and consequence discrimination), these skills were taught with prompting and reinforcement to children with an ASD who did not reliably demonstrate OL to produce OL across a variety of tasks. The purpose of this project is to replicate the assessment and treatment procedures in MacDonald and Ahearn and to examine whether OL can be assessed with video modeling. Following assessment of OL skills, three participants diagnosed with an ASD acquired OL with video modeling and demonstrated across- and within-task generalization. IOA was calculated in 33% of sessions across participants with a mean of 98%.

The Discrimination of Consequences: Incorporating Known and Unknown Targets During Observational Learning
BRITTANY TOMASI (Alpine Learning Group), Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)
Abstract: We conducted a replication and extension of DeQuinzio and Taylor (2015). We used a multiple-baseline-design across three participants to determine the effects of discrimination training on the discrimination of consequences applied to modeled responses in the presence of known and unknown targets. During baseline, participants were simply exposed to adult models’ correct and incorrect responses to picture labels that were either known or unknown to participants. During discrimination training, in the presence of known target pictures, we taught participants to say what they know regardless of observed responses and consequences. In the presence of unknown target pictures, we taught participants to imitate modeled responses that were reinforced and to say “I don’t know” when modeled responses were incorrect and punished. Test sessions were conducted after baseline, discrimination training, and generalization sessions to measure responding to target pictures in the absence of the model, prompts, and reinforcement. All four participants showed acquisition over baseline levels in the discrimination of reinforced and nonreinforced responses in the presence of both known and unknown targets. Two participants required the modification of target sets and one participant only reached criterion because of this modification. Generalization to stimuli not associated with training was variable across the three participants. Implications for teaching observational learning responses to children with autism are discussed.



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