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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Invited Paper Session #403
CE Offered: BACB

The Unit of Analysis in Evidence Based Practices

Monday, May 26, 2008
1:30 PM–2:20 PM
Grand Ballroom
Area: EDC; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Susan Wilczynski, Ph.D.
Chair: Cathy L. Watkins (California State University, Stanislaus)
TIMOTHY A. SLOCUM (Utah State University), SUSAN WILCZYNSKI (National Autism Center)
Dr. Susan Wilczynski is the Executive Director of the National Autism Center. In her role as the Executive Director, she oversees the National Standards Project, updates public policy-makers about evidence-based practice related to educational and behavioral interventions, develops assessment clinics specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and establishes the parent education and professional training agenda of the National Autism Center. Dr. Wilczynski has authored numerous articles on the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Prior to her position at the National Autism Center, she developed and directed an intensive early intervention program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Munroe-Meyer Institute. She has held academic appointments at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Wilczynski holds a joint appointment with May Institute, where she serves as Vice President of Autism Services. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Wilczynski is a licensed psychologist and a board certified behavior analyst.

The movement for evidence based practices (EBP) in education, psychology, and other human services presents a tremendous opportunity for behavior analysts. This movement is attempting to do what behavior analysts have tried to do for so long to promote practices that are supported by specific evidence demonstrating effectiveness. However, substantial challenges must be overcome if EBP are to succeed in increasing the effectiveness of human services. Among these challenges is that of identifying units of practice that might be validated as evidence-based. Potential units of practice might be relatively micro (e.g., reinforcing correct responses) or relatively macro (e.g., Direct Instruction combined with Positive Behavioral Supports). In addition, units of practice might be separately validated for each context and population, or they might be validated across such variables. Thus, the EBP movement faces classic questions of generalizability of research findings. This paper will explore several approaches to these questions including (1) Skinners discussion of basic behavioral units, (2) experimental methodologists discussions of generality of research findings, and (3) systems of EBP in other fields. Suggestions for continuing the development of EBP will be derived from this discussion.




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