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 #452
CE Offered: BACB
Novel Applications of Equivalence-Based Procedures
Monday, May 29, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center 401/402
Area: TBA/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Megan Breault (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College)
CE Instructor: Christina M. King, Ph.D.
Abstract: Equivalence-based instruction is frequently being utilized across a wide range of subject areas and populations. Additionally, as the research-base in this area has increased, the sophistication and complexity of such procedures has advanced. The studies in this symposium include a range from basic research to practice and introduce novel procedural arrangements and analyses. In Study One, the efficacy of errorless learning versus trial-and-error protocols was evaluated in three individuals diagnosed with autism. Results demonstrated the superiority of errorless protocols as measured by trials to criterion and stimulus class formation. Study Two extends equivalence-based procedures to staff training via a Learning Management System. Preliminary data demonstrated the absence of emergent stimulus-stimulus relations indicative of class formation. It is predicted that 3, four-member equivalence classes will emerge following training. In the final study, the effects of stimulus complexity on the differential outcomes effect was analyzed. In Experiment One, no difference was observed between non-differential and differential outcomes as measured by the formation of equivalence classes. In Experiment Two the differential outcomes effect was varied depending on the complexity of sample stimuli presented during conditional discrimination training. All three studies illustrate novel protocols involving equivalence-based instruction.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): differential outcomes, equivalence, errorless learning, online learning

The Effects of Reinforcement on the Formation of Equivalence Classes Following Errorless and Trial-and-Error Teaching

(Applied Research)
RUSSELL W. MAGUIRE (Simmons College), Christina M. King (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College), Colleen Yorlets (RCS Behavioral & Educational Consulting; Simmons College), Megan Breault (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College)

While research has demonstrated the efficacy of errorless learning, there is often an overreliance on trial-and-error procedures which often result in an increased number of errors and reduction in reinforcement density. Two experiments evaluated the formation of equivalence classes following instruction of conditional discriminations via errorless instruction (delayed prompt) versus trial-and error training (differential reinforcement of correct responses). In both experiments, and across three participants with Autism Spectrum Disorders, the errorless protocol required fewer trials-to-criterion, produced fewer errors, and resulted in more stimulus classes being formed (e.g., Table 1 from Experiment One and Figure 1 from Experiment Two). Experiment Three was conducted to evaluate the formation of equivalence classes following training of the prerequisite relations trial-and-error and an errorless protocol while holding the density of reinforcement constant (e.g., the delivery of reinforcement consistent from one training to the other). The results showed the errorless protocol superior in terms of trials-to-criterion, errors committed and stimulus classes formed. The results are discussed in terms of the role of errors in instruction.


Formation of Equivalence Classes Trained via a Learning Management System (LMS) for Direct Staff

(Applied Research)
CHRISTINA M. KING (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College), Megan Breault (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College), Colleen Yorlets (RCS Behavioral & Educational Consulting; Simmons College)

With the ongoing demand for ABA services across the country, the need for well-trained direct staff continues to increase. Employers are tasked with providing comprehensive trainings to a large number of staff with variable skill sets. Equivalence-based instruction is well-established as an efficient technology that results in the emergence of new stimulus-stimulus relations, many without direct training. The current study makes use of equivalence-based instruction to teach direct staff to form four, three-member stimulus classes specific to the basic schedules of reinforcement. The initial conditional discrimination training necessary for the subsequent stimulus class formation was conducted via a Learning Management System. The Learning Management System was an online platform which staff could navigate through independently, receiving programmed feedback. Pilot data for two typically developing adults indicated that the reflexive relations were present at baseline, while the potential symmetrical and transitive relations were not present. It is anticipated that the training of two stimulus-stimulus relations will result in the subsequent emergence of four stimulus-stimulus relations per class. Procedures will be extended to ten direct staff members and stimuli will be presented on an online learning platform. The majority of testing and training phases will be conducted through personalized system of instruction modules in order to minimize trainer time. Statistical analyses will be conducted to determine if a statistically significant increase in accuracy from pre-test to post-test will be demonstrated.

The Differential Outcomes Effect as a Function of Stimulus Complexity
(Basic Research)
COLLEEN YORLETS (RCS Behavioral & Educational Consulting; Simmons College), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons College), Christina M. King (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College), Megan Breault (RCS Learning Center; Simmons College)
Abstract: The differential outcomes effect (DOE) is well-documented within the basic research literature, particularly with non-human models. The DOE is demonstrated when rate of skill acquisition is increased due to the delivery of specific consequences for each discriminative stimulus. Fewer applied studies, however, have been conducted and across those studies, the DOE has been demonstrated inconsistently. Several variables may be suggested to influence the DOE including participant age, skill level, and stimulus complexity. In Experiment One, differential outcomes versus non-differential outcomes were evaluated for two neurotypical adults through tact training. No differences were found between acquisition of tacts in either the differential outcomes condition or the non-differential outcomes condition. In Experiment Two, demonstration of the DOE will be evaluated in relation to different levels of sample stimulus complexity. Sample stimulus complexity will be manipulated by increasing the number of elements contained within complex sample stimuli. Presentation of non-differential outcomes conditions and differential outcomes conditions will be systematically balanced across all complexity levels. It is predicted that the DOE will facilitate more rapid skill acquisition, relative to the non-differential outcomes condition, for more complex conditional discrimination tasks. Future directions including extending this procedure to change socially significant behaviors in typically developing adults.



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