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 #308
Translational Research Relevant to Discrete-Trial Training Among Children with Autism
Monday, May 30, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Continental A (1st floor)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
CE Instructor: Wayne W. Fisher, Ph.D.
Abstract: Basic research focuses on increasing our understanding of general principles of behavior (i.e., why questions), whereas applied research focuses on how specific problems can be resolved or improved (i.e., how to questions). Translational research is a term that is increasingly used to describe research that attempts to link and interrelate basic and applied research. Building such connections can make basic research more relevant to everyday problems. In addition, the precision and generality of applied research is often enhanced when it is informed or derived from basic research and principles. This symposium will feature three examples of translational research relevant to discrete-trials training among children with autism. Athens and Vollmer will present a study in which a common clinical problem, decreased treatment integrity during discrete-trial training, was examined in a human-operant laboratory using college students as participants. Dickson, Wang, and Dube will present data on overselective observing and attending responses in special-education students performing matching-to-sample tasks. Shabani and Fisher will present data on the effects of interspersing previously mastered items during discrete-trial training with children with autism. Finally, Dorothea Lerman will serve as the discussant to integrate the findings of these three presentations into the broad themes of translational research.
An Investigation of Treatment Integrity Failures During Discrimination Training
ELIZABETH S. ATHENS (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Discrete trial training is a commonly used teaching method for children diagnosed with autism. Little attention has been given to methodological issues related to the general procedures. For example, discrete trial training commonly utilizes discrimination training, however little is known about the sensitivity of this training to treatment integrity failures within discrete trial training. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a method of conducting human operant (translational) research on discrimination training and to examine responding during two kinds of treatment integrity failures. A simulated program of a complex discrimination task was developed using Visual Basic computer programming. The program was used to examine responses to arbitrary, novel tasks in a controlled laboratory setting with undergraduate college students as participants. The two kinds of errors evaluated were: a) errors of omission (a reinforcer was not delivered when it was earned), and b) errors of commission (a reinforcer was delivered when it was not earned). The probability of errors of omission and commission were manipulated across several conditions for three groups of five participants. Results for all three groups suggest that errors of commission were more detrimental to learning. Preliminary data for individual subject replications will also be presented. Plans to replicate these procedures with children will be discussed.
Effects of Reinforcer Rate on Observing in Restricted Stimulus Control
CHATA A. DICKSON (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts M), Sharon Wang (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School), William V. Dube (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Abstract: This paper will present translational research on overselective observing and attending in special-education students performing matching-to-sample tasks. The basic research foundation comes from two areas: research in observing behavior that has shown a relation between stimulus-reinforcer relations and observing preferences, and research in behavioral momentum that has shown a relation between reinforcer rate and behavioral persistence. Our experiments investigate reinforcer-related variables that may affect the flexibility of observing behavior in transition points from less- to more-complex sample stimuli (one- vs. two-element sample stimuli). Observing topographies, measured by eye tracking apparatus, include number and duration of observations. Results show that both overall reinforcer rate and specific stimulus-reinforcer relations may affect observing behavior in matching to sample.
The Effects of Interspersal Versus Non-Interspersal Training on Acquisition During Discrete Trial Instruction
DANIEL B. SHABANI (Marcus Autism Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: This study incorporated features from a withdrawal and multielement design to compare the effects of interspersal versus noninterpsersal training during discrete trial instruction with three children diagnosed with autism. During interspersal training sessions, previously mastered sight words and numbers were alternated with one novel target word or number. During non-interspersal training sessions, only novel sight words or numbers were presented. After meeting specific mastery criteria, periodic baseline probes were conducted in order to assess the effects of interspersal and non-interspersal training on acquisition rates. Results indicated different rates of acquisition across training procedures. The implications for discrete trial training programs will be discussed.



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