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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #212
Applied Research on Acquisition: Differential Effects Related to Generalization, Preference, and Rate of Acquisition
Sunday, May 27, 2007
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Elizabeth H
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The symposium will include four treatment comparison studies evaluating the effects of acquisition strategies used to target early learner and social skills among children with autism and spelling skills among typically developing elementary students. Findings are summarized in terms of differential effects on the rate of acquisition, measures of generalization, and treatment preference demonstrated by participants. The results of these investigations, collectively, have implications for the selection of effective teaching strategies in early intervention and early education.
The Effects of Differential Reinforcement of Unprompted Responding on Skill Acquisition of Children with Autism.
AMANDA M. FIRTH (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The common recommendation to reserve the most potent reinforcers for unprompted responses during acquisition programming, sometimes referred to as differential reinforcement of independent responding, has little published empirical support for its purported benefits (enhanced rate of acquisition, decreased likelihood of errors and prompt dependence). The purpose of the current investigation was to compare the delivery of high-quality reinforcers exclusively following unprompted responses (differential condition) with the delivery of high-quality reinforcers following both prompted and unprompted responses (non-differential condition) on the rate of skill acquisition for three children with autism. Participants were taught multiple pairs of target skills (picture sequencing, tacting, receptive identification) using a massed, discrete-trial preparation in conjunction with both differential and non-differential teaching procedures. Alternating treatments and reversal designs were used to evaluate the effects of both conditions on the rate of acquisition for each participant. Results demonstrate that the differential reinforcement procedure reliably produced skill acquisition whereas the non-differential reinforcement procedure did not.
Differential Efficacy of Generalization Promotion Techniques on Acquisition Rates of Target Behaviors.
GINA T. CHANG (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Abstract: The present study compared the acquisition rates of three teaching approaches that were designed specifically to promote generalization. The three generalization promoting procedures were multiple exemplar training, indiscriminable contingency training, and reinforced generalization training. Few studies have attempted to understand the differing effects of generalization strategies on acquisition rates, and none have compared the effects of strategies across children. This study measured acquisition as achieving 80% accuracy across two teaching sessions for the behavior. Generalization was measured as the transfer of the use of the acquired behavior into a natural environment. A multiple baseline design across and within participant and an alternating treatment design were used to compare which strategy had the highest rate of acquisition and was most effective in promoting generalization. Target behaviors were defined for four children with autism. Three children met acquisition of behaviors across all three target behaviors. All strategies promoted at least partial generalization. Rates of acquisition were variable across children. Results indicated that multiple exemplar training yielded the highest rate of generalization, while reinforced generalization was the least effect strategy for promoting generalization.
Acquisition of Nonverbal Social Initiation Behavior in Low-Functioning Children with Autism: A Comparison of Natural and Artificial Reinforcement-Based Teaching Strategies.
KARI BERQUIST (Claremont Graduate University), Marjorie H. Charlop (Claremont McKenna College)
Abstract: This study examined the acquisition of social initiations (e.g., greetings, sharing) in three low-functioning children with autism. Children were taught two different nonverbal social behaviors in which they initiated an interaction with another person. Modified Incidental Teaching Sessions (MITS), a Naturalistic Teaching Strategy (NaTS) that emphasizes the use of natural child chosen reinforcement, and Discrete Trial Training (DTT), that uses artificial and therapist chosen reinforcement, were used to increase children’s nonverbal social initiations. It was hypothesized that low-functioning children with autism would be able to acquire the target social behaviors; but that only the behaviors taught in the natural reinforcement based condition (MITS) would show generalization. An alternating treatment, multiple baseline design across participants was used. Interobserver agreement was above 95% for each child. Results suggest that all three children acquired their target social behaviors with either treatment (MITS or DTT); however, generalization and maintenance of target behaviors only occurred with behaviors taught in the natural reinforcement based condition (MITS).
A Comparison of Two Spelling Strategies with Respect to Acquisition, Generalization, Maintenance, and Student Preference.
TRACIE B. MANN (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Correct spelling is a learned performance, but effective and preferred procedures to develop accurate spelling in young children have not been described. We evaluated the effectiveness of two strategies for teaching spelling to 10 elementary students of typical development. In the traditional rehearse and test method commonly used in elementary classrooms, we gave students a list of ten words on Monday, they practiced spelling the words throughout the week, and then were tested on Friday. We also taught students to use the cover-copy-compare (CCC) method to practice their spelling words within a similar time frame. During CCC, we also taught students to say each phoneme of a word (“sound out”) as they practiced each word. Interobserver agreement was collected for 33% of sessions; agreement was 100% for all measures. A reversal design showed that CCC was clearly more effective for promoting acquisition of spelling words for five students, and for promoting generalization and maintenance for two students. No difference between conditions was observed with the remaining students. Nine of the ten students preferred CCC to rehearse and test. Implications for the design of an effective spelling curriculum are discussed.



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