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 #520
CE Offered: BACB
Advancing Behavioral Technology in Early and General Education
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Williford A
Area: EDC/DEV; Domain: Theory
Chair: Rachel H. Thompson (The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Rachel H. Thompson, Ph.D.

Behavior Analysis is applied most widely with individuals with developmental disabilities and those receiving specialized services. The papers in this symposium provide examples of the application of behavior analysis to address challenges encountered with children served in early and general education settings. Participants include typically developing infants, preschoolers, kindergarteners, and children served in general education classrooms. Interventions include prompting, reinforcement, and extinction and are designed to improve social, academic, and language skills among the participants. Collectively, the data will inform the audience regarding (a) scheduling of teaching trials, (b) the benefit of combining intervention components, (c) procedures useful in identifying reinforcers, and (d) the potential benefits of operant approaches to clinical phenomena. Together, these papers will illustrate the manner in which behavior analysis can be applied to improve our approach to teaching and intervening with children in early and general education settings.

Evaluation of an Affect Index for Determining Infant Preferences.
TANYA BAYNHAM (University of Kansas), Rachel H. Thompson (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Infant participation in behavioral research may be limited by challenges related to identification of generalized reinforcers. In this study, preference hierarchies were obtained for 6 infants using 10 toys during two assessments that employed different types of responses: a paired-stimulus assessment using selection responses (Fisher et al., 1992) and a single-stimulus assessment using affective responses (e.g., approach, laughs, retreat, whines). Overall rankings on the two assessments were not strongly correlated for any participant. The reinforcing efficacy of discrepantly ranked items was evaluated in a concurrent reinforcer assessment. Each assessment identified the most reinforcing stimulus for 3 of 6 participants. All items identified reinforced in-square behavior relative to a control. For 6 of 6 participants, the assessment with the highest test-retest correlation was predictive of the more reinforcing stimulus. Implications of these results will be discussed; despite the lack of correspondence between the assessments, each one may be beneficial under different conditions.
An Evaluation of the Effects of Intertrial Intervals on the Acquisition and Maintenance of Preschool Life Skills.
MONICA T. FRANCISCO (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Recently, Hanley, Heal, Tiger, and Ingvarsson (2007) described a class-wide program aimed at proactively teaching children to respond appropriately to situations that might otherwise evoke problem behavior. Although a three-fold increase in skills was observed following the class-wide implementation of the program, the number of the 13 skills emitted independently at the close of the study varied from 7 to 13 across children. In an attempt to address the conditions under which children reliably emitted the skill immediately following a model, but rarely if ever independently emitted the skill, we evaluated the effects of altering the interval of time between opportunities to emit and receive feedback on skills that were not acquired as a function of experience in the class-wide curriculum. When trials were separated by approximately 30 min (Baseline), and praise or the opportunity to practice the skill were provided for correct or incorrect responses, respectively (the Distributed condition), minimal independent responses were observed (all agreement measures exceeded 80%). When the children were exposed to the Progressive condition, in which the inter-trial interval (ITI) was gradually increased from short (e.g., 3 s) to longer (e.g., 16 min) periods, independent and generalized skills were observed for both children.
Different Response Patterns Following Extinction in Children with Selective Mutism.
BRENDA J. ENGEBRETSON (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Linda J. Cooper-Brown (The University of Iowa), John A. Northup (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: The manifestation of selective mutism varies within children, and it is often characterized in terms of anxious and oppositional behavior. Previous investigations have used psychometric approaches to measure these constructs, and operant procedures have rarely been used. In this study, operant procedures were used to evaluate selective mutism. Two typically developing children with selective mutism were included in the study. Extinction was implemented to produce vocalizations to the investigator following a lack of success with other procedures. Responses during and following extinction differed across children. For Maria, extinction was brief (i.e., 15 minutes) and she vocalized independently without further extinction to the investigator during remaining sessions. She also, however, displayed delayed vocalizations with additional stimuli (e.g. different people) following the initial extinction session. For Laura, an extensive extinction session was needed to produce vocalization (i.e., almost 9 hours). Following extinction, however, immediate vocalizations occurred in all novel stimulus conditions. Maria’s quick response to extinction and delayed vocalizations to novel people is suggestive of ‘anxiety;’ whereas Laura showed ‘opposition’ with her delayed response to extinction and immediate vocalizations to novel people. We will discuss how different response patterns to extinction may indicate subtypes of selective mutism.
Effects of Instruction, Goals, and Reinforcement on Academic Behavior: Assessing Skill versus Reinforcement Deficits.
JAMES W. DILLER (West Virginia University), Claire C St. Peter (West Virginia University), Shari Marie Winters (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Effects of instructions, goal setting, and reinforcement, in isolation and combination, were assessed on the letter-naming proficiency of 2 underperforming Kindergarten students. During a no-intervention baseline, both students’ accuracy was low or declining. Instructions alone produced increases over baseline responding, but the effects were not maintained; no improvement relative to baseline was observed when goal setting and reinforcement were used in isolation. However, when reinforcement was combined with instructions and goal setting, the performance of both participants improved in all conditions, with the greatest initial improvements in the instruction plus reinforcement condition. Data from this phase showed some evidence of carryover between conditions. These findings suggest that single interventions were not sufficient for performance improvement, but that combined interventions were effective.



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