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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #312
CE Offered: BACB
Reinforcement Variables That Impact Skill Acquisition and Performance in Individuals With Autism
Sunday, May 24, 2020
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Chata A. Dickson, Ph.D.

The authors of the three studies presented in this symposium evaluated effects of consequence manipulations on skill acquisition in children and adults with autism. Valencia and her colleagues investigated effects of various combinations of differential reinforcement magnitude for prompted and unprompted correct responses and found that in some cases, acquisition was more rapid with differential reinforcement. Breeman and her colleagues observed that clinicians commonly made errors of omission of prescribed consequences, and compared effects of low-integrity and high-integrity treatment conditions on skill acquisition. These researchers found that acquisition was almost twice as rapid when teaching procedures were implemented as programmed. Finally, Paranczak and Fisher compared rate of independent manding and acquisition of novel mands across two conditions: with and without a lag schedule requirement. The lag schedule led to the acquisition of novel mands with both participants. Each of these studies addressed practical considerations that should be made by those designing and managing programs of instruction for individuals with autism.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): differential reinforcement, lag schedules, procedural integrity, skill acquisition
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts involved in the education of individuals with autism and developmental disabilities.

Learning Objectives: Following attendance at this symposium, if asked, participant will accurately: 1. describe differential reinforcement, and name a situation (in the context of skill acquisition) in which its use would be recommended; 2. discuss recent findings in the effects of reliable implementation of consequences (reinforcement and error correction) when teaching auditory-visuation conditonal discriminations; and 3. describe a lag schedule requirement and discuss its effects on response variability.
Further Evaluation of the Effects of Reinforcer Magnitude on Skill Acquisition
ANDREA VALENCIA (University of Miami), Yanerys Leon (University of Miami), Yanelis Arias (Florida Institute of Technology), Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (University of Miami), Elaine Espanola (University of Miami), Meagan K. Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that several parameters of reinforcement (i.e., delay, quality) may influence the rate of skill acquisition during discrete trial instruction. Further, manipulating reinforcement parameters may be one method to promote independent responding and decrease prompt dependence (Karsten & Carr, 2009). The effects of magnitude have not been well-investigated in this context and findings have thus far been mixed (Paden & Kodak, 2015). This study evaluated the effects of differential reinforcer magnitude on the rate of skill acquisition for young children with ASD participating in early intensive behavioral intervention. We evaluated the following three contexts: equal magnitude (for prompted and unprompted), differential magnitude for independent responses, and differential magnitude for “better” (i.e., more independent) responses. Three of five applications showed that differential reinforcement in the form of higher magnitude produced quicker acquisition relative to equal magnitude. However, there was no difference between the two differential reinforcement conditions assessed.
The Effects of Procedural-Integrity Errors during Auditory-Visual Conditional Discrimination Training
SAMANTHA BREEMAN (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University), Laura L. Grow (Garden Academy)
Abstract: Procedural integrity errors have widespread implications for the success or failure of behavior analytic interventions. However, previous research has not examined the effects of procedural integrity errors during auditory-visual conditional discrimination with clinical populations. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend the work of Carroll, Kodak, and Fisher (2013) by evaluating the effects of procedural integrity errors compared to perfect integrity during auditory-visual conditional discrimination training with an adolescent with autism spectrum disorder. The errors examined were selected through a descriptive assessment, which identified omission of reinforcement and omission of error correction as the most common clinician errors. The participant required approximately twice as many sessions to master targets taught under low-integrity conditions compared to those taught under high-integrity conditions. These results suggest that procedural integrity errors hinder skill acquisition and affect teaching efficiency. Future researchers should evaluate the effects of errors during auditory-visual conditional discrimination training across task arrangements.
An Evaluation of a Lag Schedule of Reinforcement and Progressive Time Delay on Mand Variability
KRISTA NICOLE PARANCZAK (Temple University), Amanda Guld Fisher (Temple University)
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may mand repetitively, using the same topography for preferred items. This could affect their ability to get their wants and needs met as well as affect social relationships. Previous research suggests that lag schedules of reinforcement can increase the variability of vocal mands. The current study evaluated the effects of a lag schedule of reinforcement and progressive time delay (TD) on the rate of vocal mands through a multiple baseline across behaviors with embedded reversal design with two adults with ASD. Two conditions were used to assess variable responding when variability was (Lag 1 + TD) and was not (Lag 0) required to produce reinforcement. During Lag 0, reinforcement was contingent on instances of independent manding (of any topography). During Lag 1 +TD, reinforcement was contingent on instances of independent and prompted variant responses. A progressive TD was used to transfer stimulus control from an echoic prompt to the establishing operation. Results indicated that a Lag 1 schedule of reinforcement with progressive TD promoted acquisition of novel vocal mand topographies for all participants, with varying effects on rates of independent variant mands.



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