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 #29
Enhancing the Efficiency of Instructional Procedures for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Saturday, May 27, 2017
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4C/D
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Regina A. Carroll (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)
CE Instructor: Regina A. Carroll, Ph.D.

Practitioners and researchers have effectively used a range of instructional techniques from applied behavior analysis to teach critical social, language, and academic skills to children with autism spectrum disorders. The collection of studies in this symposium will explore how different variations in instructional procedures can influence the acquisition and generalization of skills for children with autism. First, Sophie Knutson will present a study comparing varying task interspersal ratios on the efficacy and efficiency of discrete-trial teaching. Second, Natalie Jones will present a study comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching procedures with secondary targets embedded into a demand and play context. Third, Shaji Haq will present a study assessing the acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of skills taught using prompting and reinforcement or instructive feedback procedures. Fourth, Bethany Hansen will present a study evaluating the effects of single-exemplar and multiple-exemplar training on the acquisition and generalization of third person pronouns. Finally, Bridget Taylor will discuss interesting components of each study, and describe future areas of research on skill acquisition.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Instructive Feedback, Multiple Exemplars, Skill Acquisition, Task Interspersal
Comparing the Efficacy and Efficiency of Varying Task Interspersal Ratios
SOPHIE KNUTSON (University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Dayna Costello (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Gabriella Van Den Elzen (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Terra Cliett (University of North Texas), Ella M Gorgan (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Mary Halbur (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee), Samantha Klasek (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
Abstract: Task interspersal is a procedural variation of discrete-trial teaching that has been implemented to facilitate the acquisition of novel skills, and may reduce problem behavior during instructional time. The literature shows equivocal results regarding the efficiency of task interspersal, but there is limited literature indicating the effects on level of problem behavior. The current study extends the literature on task interspersal by comparing the efficacy and efficiency of varying task interspersal ratios implemented in early intervention practices with children with autism spectrum disorder and related disorders on acquisition and levels of problem behavior. The four ratios of mastered to acquisition stimuli included: 3:1, 1:1, 1:3, and 0:1. An adapted alternating treatments design was implemented to compare the number of stimuli mastered and the level of problem behavior across conditions. All ratios were effective in facilitating the acquisition of stimuli, but the 0:1 condition was the most efficient intervention procedure. Results were inconsistent on the efficacy of the procedures regarding levels of problem behavior.

Embedding Secondary Targets Into Demand and Play Contexts When Teaching Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

NATALIE RUTH JONES (West Virginia University), Regina A. Carroll (West Virginia University), Jessica Cheatham (West Virginia University), Hanah Conlan (West Virginia University)

Instructive feedback has been shown to vastly improve the efficiency of structured teaching procedures. Instructive feedback involves presenting secondary targets (i.e., extra non-target skills) in an instructional trial. Learners are not required to respond to these additional skills; however, previous studies show that learners may acquire secondary targets in the absence of direct teaching. In the current study we evaluated the conditions under which three children with autism acquired secondary targets in the absence of direct teaching. We used an adapted-alternating-treatments design to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of four teaching procedures with and without secondary targets embedded into demand and play contexts. The results showed that two participants acquired secondary targets presented across all conditions; however, learning was more efficient when secondary targets were presented within a demand context. Findings from this study suggest that instructive feedback may increase the number of skills that children with autism can learn without increasing instructional time, and that the demand context may mediate some of these effects.


Examination of Acquisition, Generalization, and Maintenance of Skills Using Instructive Feedback for Children With Autism

SHAJI HAQ (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Tiffany Kodak (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee), Rachel Yosick (Marcus Autism Center), Brittany Lee Bartlett (Marcus Autism Center), Taylor Thompson (Marcus Autism Center), Patricia Zemantic (University of Oregon), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Although instructive feedback is an effective and efficient approach for skill acquisition, there is limited research on generalization and maintenance of skills that are trained using this procedure (Nottingham, Vladescu, & Kodak, 2015). In this study, we taught intraverbal fill-ins using prompting and reinforcement (i.e., primary targets) or instructive feedback (i.e., secondary targets), and we assessed generalization of skills to novel therapists or to corresponding wh- questions. In addition, we assessed maintenance of a) primary targets, b) secondary targets, and c) generalization targets during two and four-week probes. Results indicated that all three participants acquired, generalized, and maintained skills in all conditions. Implications for research and clinical practice will be discussed.


Training Sufficient Exemplars When Teaching Expressive Labeling of Third Person Pronouns to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

BETHANY HANSEN (Marcus Autism Center), Jamie Lee Cohen (Marcus Autism Center), Cassondra M Gayman (Marcus Autism Center), Whitney Trapp (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)

Studies have found pronoun difficulties as a noted deficit for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Wilkinson, 1998). Stokes and Baer (1977) discuss the importance of programming sufficient exemplars to promote generalization when teaching a potentially generalizable skill, such as pronoun use. The purpose of this study is to assess the need for multiple exemplar training in facilitating generalization of correct pronoun use. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate the effects of single exemplar training on the acquisition of third person pronouns, followed by multiple exemplar training if generalization did not occur. Baseline data were collected for three sets, each consisting of nine targets that included three third person pronouns (i.e., he, she, and they) engaging in three different verbs (e.g., sleeping). Three targets in set one were initially targeted for intervention (e.g., each pronoun engaging in a different verb). Probes were conducted once mastery criteria were met. Untrained targets within and/or across sets were trained until generalization was observed. Results showed that one participant demonstrated generalization within and across sets following single exemplar training of one set, one participant demonstrated generalization within and across sets following multiple exemplar training of one set, and one participant demonstrated generalization following multiple exemplar training of multiple sets. These findings support the need for assessing the number of exemplars that require training to promote untrained, novel responses for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders.




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