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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #22
CE Offered: BACB
Measuring Social Validity during Behavioral Research and Consultation
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Area: CSE/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Claire C St. Peter (West Virginia University)
CE Instructor: Claire C St. Peter, Ph.D.

In applied behavior analysis, social validity refers to society's judgment about the appropriateness and importance of behavior analytic goals and practices. Although social validity has been touted as a critical dimenson of applied behavior analysis since the 1970's, it remains an under-researched area. The presenters attempt to address this void by discussing the use of social validity measures in the existing literature, as well as reviewing three new research studies that assess the social validity of behavioral procedures for classroom use.

Social Validity Assessments of Behavior-Change Procedures Used with Young Children: A Review.
NICOLE HEAL (May Center for Education & Neurorehabilitation), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University)
Abstract: Social validity refers to the significance of the goals, the appropriateness of the procedures, and the importance of the effects of a behavior-change program to members of society. This review will describe the different features of social validity assessments conducted for the ultimate benefit of young children, note trends, and critically analyze the current state of affairs in this area, and offer directions for future social validity research. Studies were included in the analysis if (a) there was an evaluation of social validity, (b) the behavior-change procedures being assessed were applied to observable (externalized) problem behavior or issues related to learning, and (c) the behavior-change procedures being assessed were applied with young children (aged birth through 8 years). Studies that met the inclusion criteria were categorized and analyzed on the following dimensions (a) type of behavior-change procedures, (b) dimensions of social validity (i.e., goals, procedures, and/or outcomes), (c) social validity consumers, (d) types of social validity assessments (i.e., absolute vs. relative), and (e) methods for assessing social validity (i.e., indirect vs. direct assessments). Interrater agreement was assessed on 20% of the articles, and agreement above 80%.
An Evaluation of the Efficacy of and Preference for Strategies for Reducing Problem Behavior in Play Groups.
STACY A. LAYER (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University)
Abstract: Three common behavior management strategies for reducing the problem behavior of preschool children include the use of a rule reminder alone, a rule reminder plus talk and practice, or a rule reminder followed by a brief time out and then talk and practice. Results of a questionnaire assessing community preschool teachers’ opinions about the acceptability and relative efficacy of these 3 strategies showed that rule reminders were the most common consequence for problem behavior; teachers also reported that it was important to empirically evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies described. We then compared the effectiveness of and children’s preferences for each of the three behavior management strategies (all agreement measures exceeded 80%). The results indicated that for children with the highest levels of problem behavior, a comprehensive package including rule reminders, time out, and talk and practice was the most effective strategy for reducing problem behavior. Child preference varied among the strategies with some children preferring the strategy involving time out and others preferring only rule reminders; no child preferred the talk and practice component without the time out component. Implications for the design of preschool environments will be discussed.
Considerations of Treatment Acceptability in Examining Intervention Effectiveness.
FLORENCE D. DIGENNARO REED (Melmark New England), Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University)
Abstract: An investigation of social validity may include considerations of the acceptability, appropriateness, and ease of implementation of intervention procedures. The Intervention Rating Profile-15 (IRP-15; Martens, Witt, Elliott, & Darveaux, 1985) is a 15-item scale that provides a measure of general intervention acceptability as it pertains to these three areas. The purpose of this presentation is to present data from two studies that used the IRP-15 with teachers to investigate their judgments about the interventions used with their students, as well as their judgments about the feedback they received regarding the accuracy of their treatment plan implementation. Findings will be presented in light of the effectiveness of the intervention procedures and their relation to treatment acceptability.
Acceptability of Preference Assessments for Classroom Use.
ALLISON SERRA TETREAULT (West Virginia University), Claire C St. Peter (West Virginia University), Elizabeth S. Athens (University of Florida)
Abstract: Applied behavior analysts frequently develop interventions for school environments. Preference assessments may be a useful tool in the identification of potential reinforcers for use in school-based interventions. However, research has not determined the acceptability of preference assessment procedures and formats for classroom use. Given that teachers and classroom aides are the ultimate behavior change agents in school-based interventions, the use of more acceptable procedures may increase teacher compliance with an intervention plan. In the current study, we used surveys to assess the acceptability of various preference assessment methods (including single-stimulus, paired-choice, and multiple-stimulus-without-replacement), the frequency of assessment (ranging from daily to less than once per week), and the modality of items used during the assessment (including actual items, pictures of items, written names of items, or vocal names of items). Teacher preference for method, frequency, and modality of assessment did not coincide with what has been established as best-practice in the behavioral literature. Implications of these findings for school-based collaboration and intervention development will be discussed.



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