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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #162a
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Examining Prompting Procedures During Skill Acquisition
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 PM
North 120 A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Discussant: Wayne Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC)
CE Instructor: Daniel J. Moran, Ph.D.

Applied behavior analysts have a rich history of teaching socially important behavior to individuals with developmental disabilities and autism. Response prompting, reinforcement, generalization, and maintenance have all been extensively studied to identify best teaching practices. This symposium will examine a number of issues related to prompting responses during skill acquisition. Each paper focuses on a different aspect of learning during skill acquisition. The first paper, presented by Laura Grow, explores the system of least prompts for teaching behavior chains and describes how such procedures are at risk for treatment integrity failures in naturalistic settings such as a classroom. The second paper, presented by Genevieve Fentress, compares the “no-no” prompting procedure to most-to-least prompting for teaching skills to children with autism. In the third paper, presented by Tiffany Kodak, four aspects of learning conditional discriminations (reinforcement, response prompting, attending, and exposure to sample stimuli) are examined. The distinguished former editor of JABA, Wayne Fisher, will serve as the discussant.

An Evaluation of the Effects of Treatment Integrity Failures on Acquisition during Instruction using the System of Least Prompts
LAURA L. GROW (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Auburn University), Kristin V Gunby (Kinark child and family services), Shaireen M. Charania (Kinark child and family services), Christina Gonsalves (Kinark Child and Family Services), Inas A Ktaech (Kinark Child and Family Services), April Kisamore (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Teaching procedures such as the system of least prompts may be at risk for treatment integrity failures in naturalistic settings such as a classroom. Two studies have systematically assessed the impact of treatment integrity failures on the acquisition of new skills (Holcombe, Wolery, & Snyder, 1994; Noell, Gresham & Gansle, 2002). In the present study, we compared the acquisition and maintenance of response chains taught using a perfectly implemented system of least prompts and a flawed system of least prompts (i.e., addition of multiple verbal prompts and failure to follow through with more intrusive prompts). Four children, aged 6 to 9, participated in the study. An adapted alternating treatments design was used to compare the efficiency of learning during the system of least prompts and the flawed system of least prompts. Results were consistent with those obtained in previous studies in that the perfectly implemented and flawed prompting procedures were effective in teaching new skills for all participants. However, the perfectly implemented treatment required fewer trials to mastery for 3 of the 4 children.
A Comparison of the “No-No Prompt” and Most-To-Least Prompting Methods for Teaching Basic Skills to Children with Autism
GENEVIEVE M FENTRESS (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Laura Harper-Dittlinger (University of Houston – Clear Lake)
Abstract: We investigated two prompting techniques commonly used to teach individuals with developmental disabilities. With most-to-least (MTL) prompting, skills are introduced and simultaneously paired with the most intrusive prompt necessary to achieve a correct response. Prompts are gradually faded over time. With the “no-no prompt” technique (NNP), the initial instruction is presented up to two times before a prompt is delivered. Although MTL prompting reduces the frequency of errors, this method may delay skill mastery by restricting opportunities for independent responding. Three children with autism participated. Combined multielement and multiple baseline designs were used to compare the teaching outcomes for each prompting method. Rate of skill mastery, frequency of errors, levels of problem behavior, and session length were examined for each method, along with the generalization and maintenance of skills. Although the NNP method resulted in faster skill acquisition, MTL prompting was associated with fewer errors, lower levels of problem behavior, and shorter session durations. In addition, skills taught via MTL prompting showed better maintenance and generalization effects than skills taught via the NNP technique.
Functional Assessment of Language Deficits: Linking Assessment and Treatment
TIFFANY KODAK (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC), Andrea Clements Stearns (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kelly J. Bouxsein (UNMC)
Abstract: Conditional discriminations are building blocks for the development of working vocabulary and language. Four function-based procedures for teaching conditional discriminations to individuals with ASD that have empirical support in the extant literature include:(a) using an empirically-identified reinforcer to increase motivation, (b) adding an extra-stimulus prompt to guide correct responding (i.e., errorless learning), (c) insuring that the individual is attending to the relevant characteristics of the sample or comparison stimuli through reinforcement of a differential observing response, and (d) repeatedly presenting each sample stimulus in isolation (i.e., in blocks of trials) until criterion-level performance is achieved. Each of these procedures has been shown to be effective with some individuals with autism, however, it is not clear which procedure should be selected for an individual who fails to acquire discriminations during typical instruction. Therefore, it is important to determine when these four specialized treatments should be used. The purpose of the evaluation was to refine and validate a rapid assessment for (a) identifying the function of a child’s poor performance on conditional discrimination tasks and (b) selecting the intervention from the four approaches described above that is functionally related to the child’s performance.



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