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 #313
Innovative Approaches for Examining Behavioral Function in School Settings
Monday, May 29, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University)
Discussant: Jeffrey J. Skowron (The May Institute)
Abstract: The papers in this symposium describe and present data showing the application of three innovative approaches for examining behavioral function in school settings. The first paper describes an approach that can be used to complement functional behavior assessment that involves: (a) conducting sequential recordings of consequences for both the presence and absence of a target behavior, (b) computing conditional probabilities from these sequential recordings, and (c) graphing these probabilities in the general operant contingency space to identify frequency of occurrence (i.e., schedule) and degree of contingency. The second paper describes an approach that can be used to assess the function of low-frequency inappropriate behavior in special education classrooms by: (a) conducting behavioral observations to develop hypotheses regarding the function of inappropriate behavior, and (b) using these observations to develop discrete-trial test conditions that can be embedded into students’ daily schedules. The third paper describes an approach that can be used to complement school-based reinforcer assessments by: (a) manipulating perceived availability of both low-preferred and high-preferred items as an establishing operation, and (b) monitoring the effects of this manipulation on rates of academic responding as well as choice of reinforcers.
Increasing the Accuracy of FBA: Charting Behavior-Consequence Relations in the Operant Contingency Space.
FLORENCE D. DIGENNARO REED (Syracuse University), Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University), Tanya L. Eckert (Syracuse University), Derek D. Reed (Syracuse University)
Abstract: Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) has been defined as an assessment process that uses a variety of methods to determine the function or purpose of behavior. However, a consensus has not been reached regarding the specific procedures that constitute a FBA. Although limitations are associated with the use of Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (A-B-C) recordings as part of a FBA, they are commonly used in school settings. An alternative analytic method that may increase the accuracy of functional assessments that incorporate A-B-C recordings is to compute conditional probabilities that can be graphed in an operant contingency space. The general operant contingency space is a diagram that illustrates whether events, such as consequences, are more likely to occur following behavior or the absence of behavior. Graphing conditional probabilities in this way specifies the degree of contingency between events and behavior. The purpose of this presentation is to outline this approach as a potential way to increase the accuracy of functional assessment methods. In addition, data from a clinical case will be presented to illustrate the utility and applicability of this approach within the framework of functional assessment methodology and behavioral intervention design.
Using Discrete Trials to Increase the Feasibility of Conducting Functional Analyses in School Settings.
SCOTT P. ARDOIN (University of South Carolina), Erik Drasgow (University of South Carolina)
Abstract: Existing functional analysis models are especially appropriate for low frequency behavior and require greater resources and skills than are available to typical classroom teachers. This study involves the evaluation of alternative procedures for systematically assessing the function of low frequency inappropriate behavior in special education classrooms. Procedures include conducting behavioral observations to develop hypotheses regarding the function of inappropriate behavior and using these observations to develop conditions that can be embedded into students’ daily schedules. Conditions include systematically manipulating the environment by providing challenging and easy assignments, withdrawing preferred items, and removing teacher and peer attention. Unlike most function analyses, inappropriate behavior results in the termination of sessions. Evidence that a variable is the function of inappropriate behavior is provided by one condition resulting in a greater number of sessions terminated than other conditions. An application of this model will be presented to those attending the symposium.
Effects of Depleting Reinforcement Supplies on Item Choice and Rate of Problem Completion.
CARON INGLIS (Syracuse University), Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University)
Abstract: Teachers who implement reinforcement-based behavior plans may use small edible and tangible rewards. It is common for a large quantity of reinforcers to be bought when starting an intervention and then to restock as needed, often at the teachers’ convenience. In practice, this frequently results in a depleting supply of at least one item. The purpose of the present study was to investigate perceived availability as an influential dimension of reinforcers. In behavior analysis, factors such as satiation/deprivation, rate, delay, quality, and response effort have been shown to influence reinforcer effectiveness. In consumer economics, research suggests that one potential way to increase preference for and/or potency of potential reinforcers is to deplete the supply of available items in a reinforcement-based program. In this study, perceived availability was manipulated by systematically depleting supplies of reinforcement, and the effects of this manipulation on rates of responding as well as choice behavior were evaluated. Results of the study, as well as their implications on the use of reinforcement-based interventions in applied settings will be discussed.



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