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 #487
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Tacts to Create Treatment Integrity: Principles Involved, Related Phenomena, Practical Considerations, and Some Data
Monday, May 29, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center 401/402
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Roger D. Ray ((AI)2, Inc. / Rollins College)
Discussant: Karen R. Wagner (Behavior Services of Brevard, Inc and
CE Instructor: Rocio Rosales, Ph.D.

This symposium explores how tacting correct and incorrect implementation of behavioral training procedures may enhance treatment integrity when carrying out those procedures. Train to Code ( is an internet-enabled program that uses multiple exemplar training to teach trainees to tact behavioral events as an expert does, as they occur sequentially in a video. By definition, when trainees have achieved expert tacting performance with the targeted events, high inter-observer-agreement with the expert has been attained. Early in the evaluation of this program, we noted that when trainees learn to consistently tact steps an expert therapist takes when carrying out a behavioral training procedure, they show improved skill in carrying out the same procedure. This may be conceptualized as tacting if-then relationships in the environment (i.e., deriving self-rules) and then following those rules at a later time under similar circumstances (Fryling, Johnston, and Hayes L, 2011). We explore what behavioral principles and phenomena might be involved in such transfer, what practical considerations impact the success of this training, and provide two examples of the use of this approach to enhance skills in carrying out behavioral training procedures.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): behavioral training, computer-based training, observation training, treatment integrity

Transfer From Tacting Examples and Non-Examples of Skilled Behavioral Procedures to Later Performance of Those Procedures

DAVID A. A. ECKERMAN (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Genae Annette Hall (Behavior Analysis and Intervention Services), Robert G. Vreeland (Behavior Analysis Intervention Services), Roger D. Ray ((AI)2, Inc. / Rollins College)

Train to Code is an internet-enabled program that uses multiple exemplars to teach trainees to tact behavioral events as an expert does, as they occur sequentially in videos. When the events to be tacted involve implementation of behavior analytic training procedures, we have found that, after trainees have achieved mastery (high inter-observer-agreement), they often carry out those procedures more correctly compared with their baseline performance (i.e., with improved treatment integrity). Since ABA interventions must be implemented with high treatment integrity to be effective, and this is a major issue in the field, we are excited that TTC may play a role in achieving this goal. In this presentation, we seek to identify behavioral principles that may account for this transfer, which we view as delayed observational learning. We also discuss behavioral phenomena that appear to be related to this finding, such as abstract control in simple and more complex (higher order) verbal relations, rule-governed behavior, self-talk in skilled performance in judged sports, and the role of tacting a model's behavior in imitating that behavior at a later time.


Using Train-to-Code to Teach Implementation of PECS to Undergraduate Students

(Applied Research)
ROCIO ROSALES (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Nicole Martocchio (University of Massachusetts Lowell), David A. A. Eckerman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Helena Whitlow (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

The purpose of the present study was to assess the feasibility of an observation and coding software system (i.e., Train-To-Code [TTC]) to teach university students implementation of Phase 3A of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). The software was used to develop a customized program that coached participants by presenting multiple exemplars of correct and incorrect implementation of each step of this phase of PECS. Participants were required to code specific behaviors in accordance with a taxonomy developed by the experimenters. The training program provided prompts and feedback in real time based on participants' level of performance and required mastery of seven levels of training, each with fewer prompts and feedback, until an expert level of unprompted coding performance was demonstrated. Four undergraduate students with no prior experience in the implementation of PECS were recruited. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate the effects of the training on treatment integrity performance during role-play with a confederate learner before and after training. Results showed improved performance relative to baseline following training, and maintenance of performance at 2-4 weeks follow-up. Implications of these findings for staff training in applied settings will be discussed.

A Preliminary Investigation of Train to Code for Teaching Match-to-Sample Skills
(Applied Research)
RYLAND K. BAKER (Western New England University; New England Center for Children), Kelly James (New England Center for Children), Danielle Dickie (New England Center for Children), Allen J. Karsina (New England Center for Children), David A. A. Eckerman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to pilot the use of a computer-based training program (Train to Code [TTC]) in teaching Match-to-Sample (MTS) procedures to 4 daycare teachers with no prior experience conducting MTS programs. Written instructions for conducting MTS procedures were given during baseline for 2 participants, and 2 other participants received additional Powerpoint® slides describing MTS procedures prior to baseline. During baseline, an experimenter played the role of the student, and data were collected on the participant’s correct implementation of the MTS program. The participants then participated in the TTC training by viewing videos of teachers implementing MTS trials and scoring each trial as correct or incorrect, with embedded prompts for scoring systematically faded over 6 training levels. A multiple baseline design across participants was used. Interobservor agreement (IOA) was obtained through an additional observer scoring the participant alongside (but independently of) the researcher in all phases of sessions, and/or through video transcription. The secondary observer scored 33% of total observations. IOA was calculated by dividing the number of agreements by the number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplying by 100. IOA on procedural integrity was high with a range of 85% to 100%. Results showed improvements for all participants after TTC training, but only 2 participants demonstrated at least 80% correct responding. Generality probes were also conducted with 3 participants, and showed similar, but more variable, performances as post-training sessions across prompting delays and stimuli sets. Implications for future iterations of the TTC program for training MTS procedures are discussed.

Should Staff Training Be Guided By Individualized Educational Programs?

ROGER D. RAY ((AI)2, Inc. / Rollins College)

ABA staff are typically taught quite differently from how those same staff members teach clients. Clients are individually evaluated for existing skills and knowledge, then Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) are developed that take into account a wide variety of important variables that impact the educational program designed for each individual client. Staff, on the other hand, are more typically taught using techniques more commonly found in classroom instruction and is not individualized. That is, they are taught in groups, are presented slide presentations and limited narrated video examples, and may participate in some discussion and/or even role playing. Ignored are individual differences in prior training or content exposures, the pace of delivery, and most other teaching/learning variables. Train-to-Code (TTC) is a software system designed to help individualize this process through highly adaptive and interactive process pacing, prompting, and feedback or error correction procedures. But that is only a beginning in individualization. The design of the content and task demands of those who supply content for TTC presents a whole new set of instructional challenges that should also be very carefully considered and individualized for each trainee. This presentation reviews data showing how critical this requirement really is.




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