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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #299
CE Offered: BACB
Using Direct Instruction to Improve Educational Outcomes for Children
Monday, May 29, 2006
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer L. Austin (California State University, Fresno)
Discussant: Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Jennifer L. Austin, Ph.D.

Direct instruction programs have proven beneficial to improving learning outcomes for a wide range of children. This presentation will present three studies in which different DI programs were used to teach important skills to children of various populations (e.g., English language learners, typically developing low SES students, etc.). The effects of the DI curricula on language, mathematics, and calendar performance will be presented. For the majority of participants in all studies, the use of DI programs was associated with improvements in performance across all target behaviors and assessments.

The Effects of a Direct Instruction Math Program on Higher-Order Problem Solving Skills.
JENNIFER L. AUSTIN (California State University, Fresno), Pamela Christofori (Tri-County TEC)
Abstract: One of the most firmly held beliefs of educators who object to Direct Instruction programs is that they are only appropriate for teaching basic skills, and subsequently impede the development of higher order problem-solving skills. This study was designed to examine the validity of this criticism. Specifically, the study sought to determine whether students taught basic addition and subtraction skills using Saxon Mathematics (a DI program) were able to generalize those skills to solve more advanced mathematics problems requiring the same skill set. Using a multiple baseline design, the effects of the DI program on two groups of 2nd graders with low math performance were assessed. Math word problem probes were administered during both baseline and treatment sessions to assess the children’s performance on higher-order math skills. For both groups and all participants, the Saxon Math curriculum produced immediate and positive changes in mathematics performance. In addition, the novice teacher who taught the DI math lessons reported that the program was easy to learn, easy to use, and produced visible changes in the students’ math skills.
The Impact of Language for Learning and Language for Thinking.
LAURA D. FREDRICK (Georgia State University), Alice Nanda (Georgia State University), Amy C. Scarborough (Georgia State University)
Abstract: Language for Learning was taught to 163 kindergarten students while Language for Thinking was taught to 167 first grade students, 40 of whom were Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—3rd Edition (PPVT-III) and six subtests of the Test of Language Development—Primary 3rd Edition (TOLD-P3) were administered as pre and posttest assessments with approximately eight months of language instruction between administrations. For both kindergarten and first grade students and for the 40 ESOL students there was a statistically significant improvement on the PPVT-III and on all administered subtests of the TOLD-P3 based on age norms. The improvement from pre to posttest for both percentile scores and standard scores was statistically significant for both kindergarten and first grade students on all six composite scores of the TOLD-P3—Listening, Organizing, Speaking, Semantics, Syntax, and Total Spoken Language. For ESOL students, there was a statistically significant improvement on all composite scores of the TOLD-P3 except for the Listening Composite. According to teacher log data, during the instructional days between the pre and posttest teachers averaged one lesson every two days.
Teaching Calendar Concepts and Operations to Preschoolers: Comparisons between Traditional and a Direct Instruction Program.
PAUL WEISBERG (University of Alabama), Roberta Stark Weisberg (Tuscaloosa Association for Citizens with Mental Retardation)
Abstract: Traditional calendar instruction in the early grades is a ubiquitous and useful activity, but it suffers from many programming deficiencies which slow the rate of progress of many concepts and operations. At least five negative outcomes are likely to result because of programming limitations: (1) teaching of generalized date identification is severely delayed; (2) insufficient practice and cumulative review results because only a few of these events are usually practiced during each day; (3) learning to report the dates by saying the month and the relevant ordinal number is not taught; (4) children are not independently tested for reporting different dates either for the current or other months; (5) a calendar table filled with an assortment of unknown stimuli can lead to distractions that interfere with the learning basic calendar facts and skills. In the present DI program, the calendar content was divided into smaller teaching units called Tracks. Comparisons of mostly at-risk kindergarten-entering children taught by the DI program with three kindergarten classes taught through traditional calendar procedures revealed substantial and significant difference in favor of the DI group after one school year. The content areas assessed were calendar facts, reporting the sequence of major events without reference to the calendar, calendar operations, and knowledge about special calendar events.



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