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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #137
Developing Effective and Preferred Preschool Classrooms: Promoting Discriminated Social Responses, Compliance, Novel Play, and Healthy Snack Choices
Sunday, May 29, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Private Dining Room 2 (3rd floor)
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer M. Asmus (University of Florida)
Abstract: The field of behavior analysis has firmly established the utility of interventions based on functional analysis procedures to decrease the problem behavior of children from a variety of populations (Asmus et al., in press). However, few studies have addressed the use of ABA procedures with typically developing children (Asmus et al., in press). The purpose of this symposium is to highlight the efficacy of using sound assessment procedures to develop interventions as well as demonstrate research that focuses on how the classroom context affects the quantity and quality of interactions, play, and food selection choices for typically developing preschool children. The symposium will include four presentations first, Jeffrey Tiger will provide an overview of a model to arrange effective and preferred stimulus controls to promote well-timed social initiations from preschool children, next, Einar Ingvarsson will present on the use of differing densities of reinforcement to reduce escape-maintained problem behavior prior to use of escape extinction, third, Jill White will present on developing diverse play in preschoolers, and finally, Katherine Solberg will present a model for biasing children’s snack selection to include healthy alternatives.
Assessing Preschooler’s Preferences for Continuously Signaled or Unsignaled Periods of Reinforcement and Extinction
JEFFREY H. TIGER (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas), Nicole Heal (University of Kansas), Jillian White (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Correlating salient discriminative stimuli with the availability and unavailability of attention (i.e., creating a multiple schedule of reinforcement and extinction components) and providing rules describing the contingencies is an effective means of teaching children to recruit teacher attention at appropriate times (Tiger & Hanley, 2005). The purpose of the present study was to directly assess the social validity of this strategy by allowing eight preschool-aged children to choose conditions that did and did not include schedule-correlated stimuli. Their preferences for schedule-correlated stimuli were assessed via a concurrent-chains arrangement in which children engaged in discrete responses to gain access to the various conditions. More specifically, this study examined children’s preferences for schedule arrangements involving no signals (Mixed schedule), a signal correlated with reinforcement, or two signals, each correlated with periods of reinforcement and extinction. Interobserver agreement was assessed during at least 20% of sessions for all children and averaged above 85% for all measures. All children preferred some multiple-schedule arrangement relative to the absence of signals. However, children differed in their preferences for the one or two signal arrangements. Different learning histories correlated with a preference for or aversion to stimuli correlated with periods of extinction will be discussed.
An Evaluation of the Importance of the Density and Contingency of Superimposed Positive Reinforcement in the Treatment of Escape-Maintained Behavior
EINAR T. INGVARSSON (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas), Katherine Solberg (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Functional analyses indicated that problem behaviors of four typically-developing preschoolers were sensitive to escape from instructional demands. A multielement treatment comparison was conducted in which two densities of positive reinforcement were compared in the absence of escape extinction. In the High Density condition, positive reinforcers were delivered following accurate responses to the vocal, model, and physical prompts, while in the Low Density condition, reinforcers were delivered only following accurate responses to the vocal prompt. One of these conditions was then compared to a yoked Noncontingent Reinforcement (NCR) condition. Escape extinction was implemented if one of the three initial conditions did not improve compliance and reduce problem behavior satisfactorily. Agreement data were collected during at least 20% of sessions in all conditions, and averaged above 90% for all measures and participants. Preliminary results indicate that (a) higher densities of positive reinforcement can increase compliance and reduce escape behavior, (b) NCR is often as effective as contingent positive reinforcement, and (c) superimposed positive reinforcement temporarily increases compliance and reduces escape-maintained behavior, but escape extinction is required to achieve robust and durable results. Implications for designing effective and preferred instructional contexts will be discussed.
An Examination of the Generalization of Diverse Block Building
JILLIAN WHITE (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Goetz and Baer (1973) found that descriptive praise, delivered contingent upon new block forms increased the number of novel forms built by preschoolers. The current study attempted to replicate and expand this work by observing the direct and indirect effects of descriptive praise on block building diversity. Two preschool children were observed while building with five distinct block sets which varied along the dimensions of size, color, shape, or the presence of a differential reinforcement contingency. Following stable patterns of block building, the direct effects of descriptive praise were observed on diverse forms with standard blocks, while the indirect effects of the contingency were observed on other baselines in which differential reinforcement was absent. When form diversity did not increase, new form training (modeling, time delay, reinforcement of specific forms) was initiated. Interobserver agreement data were collected during 59.0% of sessions and averaged 98.0% (range, 85 to 100%). In contrast to the results of Goetz and Baer, increased form diversity was dependent on direct form training. Generalization of form diversity was repeatedly observed, but form diversity did not persist in the absence of a contingency on diverse responding. Implications for promoting varied types of play will be discussed.
An Evaluation of Procedures for Promoting Preschooler's Healthy Snack Selections
KATHERINE SOLBERG (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas), Stacy A. Layer (University of Kansas), Emma Hernandez (University of Kansas), Einar T. Ingvarsson (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The effects of two procedures on preschoolers’ healthy snack selections were evaluated in multiple baseline designs. Agreement data were collected on 68.6 % of all sessions and averaged 99.1 %. Baseline preferences for healthy and unhealthy snack options were assessed via repeated paired-item preference assessments. Edible, social, and activity-based reinforcers were then exclusively paired with a typically unselected healthy snack option in Study 1. Once the snack paired with reinforcement was selected most frequently, the three types of reinforcement were systematically faded. Frequent selections of the healthy snack option were produced with paired reinforcement, but were disrupted for all participants as the paired reinforcement was reduced to low levels. These data showed that paired reinforcement was initially effective in promoting healthy snack selections, but permanent changes in the value of the healthy snack options were not achieved. In Study 2, education (i.e., rules and rehearsal) regarding the benefits of healthy eating and social reinforcement of healthy selections were provided following baselines patterns of unhealthy snack selection. Increases were observed for all participants following education and social reinforcement, yet preferences for healthy snack options persisted for only one participant. Conditions for producing persistent changes in children’s snack choices will be discussed.



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