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 #46
CE Offered: BACB
Mastery Criterion During Skill Acquisition: Recent Research
Saturday, May 23, 2020
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Level M4, Independence F-H
Area: EDC/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brittany Chiasson (Teachers College)
Discussant: Sarah M. Richling (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Sarah M. Richling, Ph.D.

Mastery criteria are a ubiquitous component of skill acquisition programs; however, there is limited research on its use. Studies in this symposium will cover a range of issue related to an educator's use of criteria. Our first talk discusses data analysis and how the continuity of data collection affects mastery. The second and third talks manipulate an aspect of mastery criterion and evaluate its effect on skill acquisition. The final talk focuses on appropriate criteria and instruction to promote eye contact.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): developmental disabilities, education, mastery criterion, skill acquisition
Target Audience:

Researchers and practitioners who design educational interventions for children with developmental disabilities

Learning Objectives: 1. Define mastery criterion and its major components 2. Identify aspects of mastery criterion that affect skill acquisition 3. Discuss how data collection and type of skill interact with mastery criterion effects.

Comparing Continuous Versus Discontinuous Data Collection on Skill Acquisition and Teacher Decision-Making

ADAM S. WARMAN (The Faison Center), Amy Coleman (Faison Center), Ashley Briggs Greer (Faison Center), Luke Martin (Faison Center), Sydney Mrowiec (Faison Center)

Data collection procedures must be chosen to work for the clinician, rather than expending inefficient effort on gathering underutilized information. Balancing clinician use of time with effective instructional interventions and decision-making. This study applied a multiple baseline across participants design to compare the two approaches using parallel data-based decision protocols regarding the impact on client skill mastery, false mastery indicators, rate of instruction, and overall clinician intervention decisions. The data collection systems of the programming for 6 children with autism were manipulated in a private day school in suburban Virginia. Licensed special education teachers supervised by behavior analysts designed the skill acquisition programming. The data indicate that while mastery of targets was similar between the conditions, significant differences were found in teacher decision-making effort, rate of instruction, and targets falsely flagged as mastered. Exploring the potential effects a data collection system may have on client skill acquisition and the efficient use of limited clinician time can help service providers determine which systemic processes they will use in their practice.

Mastery Criterion During a Shaping Task: The Effects of Short and Long Criteria
REBECCA HOTCHKISS (Evergreen Center), Daniel Mark Fienup (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: Research on mastery criterion effects has focused on discrete responses and, to the best of our knowledge, have not been evaluated in the context of shaping procedures. In this study, we evaluated two criteria in the context of shaping auditory discriminations for children with autism, which has been shown to increase echoic production. The program begins with children discriminating very different auditory stimuli and across consecutive phases children discriminate increasingly similar auditory stimuli. In the traditional criterion condition, participants mastered each phase of the shaping protocol by responding with 90% accuracy in a 20 trial session. In the consecutive correct condition, participants mastered each phase of the protocol by responding correctly to 5 consecutive trials in a session that lasted a maximum of 20 trials. In a between-subjects study, we matched participants based on baseline echoic production and general rate of learning. Participants in the consecutive correct condition completed the shaping protocol with significantly fewer trials and demonstrated the same gains in echoic repertoires as participants who completed the protocol with a traditional mastery criterion. We discuss the implications of mastery criterion for different types of procedures and responses.
The Application of Mastery Criterion to Individual Operants During Skill Acquisition
KRISTINA WONG (Columbia University), Daniel Mark Fienup (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: Typically, with children with disabilities, instructors deliver blocks of trials containing multiple stimuli/responses and evaluate mastery as percentage correct across all responses in the block. The purpose of the current study was to investigate this traditional mastery criterion arrangement compared to an arrangement where mastery was assessed at the level of individual responses. In both conditions, mastery criterion was 100% accuracy in one session. In the Set Analysis (SA) condition, accuracy was evaluated as average correct responding across all 4 target operants in a set. In the Operant Analysis (OA) condition, we taught 4 targets at a time and accuracy was assessed per operant and new operants were substituted into the set each time a single operant was mastered. Overall, all 4 participants learned textual responses quicker in the OA condition and all participants maintained a higher number of responses from the OA condition. Implications for skill acquisition are discussed.

Mastery Criteria, Maintenance, and Generalization of Eye Contact in Individuals With Developmental Disabilities

ANNA EDGEMON (Auburn University), Sarah M. Richling (Auburn University), Jennifer L. Cook (University of South Florida), Nadratu Nuhu (Auburn University), John T. Rapp (Auburn University), Joseph Bardeen (Auburn University)

In humans, eye contact is one of the most important nonverbal communicative behaviors. However, deficits in eye contact are characteristic of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Interventions targeting increasing eye contact in this population are important as eye contact can be conceptualized as a behavioral cusp that allows the individual to access novel environments and contingencies. Previous research has used a variety of procedures to increase eye contact in this population with limited success and arbitrarily determined mastery criteria. Thus, the purpose of this presentation is to discuss three studies which evaluated eye contact. In the first study, researchers used descriptive analyses to determine normative levels of eye contact in a sample population. In the second study, researchers used eye tracking software to increase eye contact in individuals with disabilities and evaluated generalization across settings. In the third study, researchers used a progressive model to teach eye contact and evaluated maintenance during follow-up probes. Limitations of these studies are discussed along with suggestions for future research on increasing eye contact in individuals with developmental disabilities and programming for generalization and maintenance.




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