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 #491
Strategies for Increasing Reading Fluency, Communication, and Levels of Engagement in Students with Developmental Disabilities
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
America's Cup D
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Diane M. Sainato (The Ohio State University)
Discussant: Ilene S. Schwartz (University of Washington)
Abstract: This symposium will present three original research papers. Garfinkle and Harper-Whalen will present their study on the effect that changes to the physical environment of an outdoor playspace had on the engagement levels of three preschool-age children with disabilities. Heron and colleagues will also present their findings on the comparison of repeated readings and untimed practice on the oral reading fluency of second- and third-grade students with mild disabilities and autism. The third study by Davis and Newell examined the use of communication books, structured around topics, on the initiations and duration of interactions with peers in a middle school environment. Ilene Schwartz will provide a discussion of issues and future directions regarding these studies.
Engagement in Preschool-Aged Children with Disabilities as a Function of Environmental Arrangement.
ANN N. GARFINKLE (University of Montana), Susan Harper-Whalen (University of Montana)
Abstract: This study evaluated the effects changes to the physical environment of an outdoor playspace had on the engagement levels of three preschool-age children with disabilities. Using an ABC design over three participants, a systematic examination of the effects of a manipulation of the physical environment was conducted. The participants were three preschool aged boys (ranging in age from 40 to months in age to 60 months) all diagnosed with a disability (two with autism and one with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) who were attending an inclusive summer school program participated. First engagement rates on a high-quality playground were made, then in successive phases in the study alterations were made based on the participants observed interests. The results indicated that planning the play space according to the boys interests raised their engagement levels from below 30% (in all cases) in baseline to above 80% (in all cases) in the intervention stages. Inter-rater reliability data were collected in 30% of the session and were over 90% in all sessions. These data will be discussed in terms of what the study suggest about engagement as important variable to consider as well as a method for teachers to use in order to increase engagement levels.
Effects of Repeated Readings and Untimed Practice on the Reading Fluency of Students with Autism.
KATHLEEN HERON (Oakstone Academy), Judah B. Axe (The Ohio State University), Diane M. Sainato (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: The literature on the effectiveness of repeated reading on increasing oral reading fluency has mixed results. The purpose of this study was to extend the research on repeated readings by using an alternating treatments design to compare the number of words of 200-word passages read correctly and incorrectly during a 1-min timing following either timed practice (three 1-min timings) or untimed practice (three minutes of continuous practice). The four participants (ages 8-10) who had mild developmental disabilities met oral reading fluency aims in fewer sessions on passages with which they received timed practice. The mean number of words read correctly per minute in baseline, untimed, and timed practice ranged from 45-77, 51-113, 83-144, respectively. Oral reading performance on untrained passages showed mixed results. Interobserver agreement ranged from 91-100% on words read correctly per minute. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are discussed.
Using Communication Books to Increase Interactions in Middle School Environments.
CAROL ANN DAVIS (University of Washington), Gretchen Newell (University of Washington )
Abstract: This study examined the use of communication books, structured around topics, on the initiations and duration of social interactions with peers in a middle school environment. Three students, ages, 12 – 15 with limited communication skills, were taught use communication books to increase their initiations and conversational turns with their peers. Effects were monitored using a multiple baseline design. During baseline, students initiated on average 3.4 times and the duration of interactions was on average 1.5 turns. During communication training, students initiated on average 3.7 times, but average turn-taking across all participants was 7.5. Inter-observer agreement across 20% of the sessions was 100% for initiations and 96% for number of communication turns taken.



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