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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #46
CE Offered: BACB
Preparing Individuals With Autism for Learning in Group Environments: Assessing Readiness for Staff Fading
Sunday, May 29, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Roosevelt, Hyatt Regency, Bronze East
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Samantha Smith (Melmark)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Croner, M.S.Ed.

Research suggests that individual instructional arrangements are highly effective with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who display challenging behavior, however the resources necessary to provide intensive staffing to all students are rare (Kamps & Walker, 1990). Not only is intensive staffing often unrealistic, some research indicates that individual instructional formats hinder generalization of skills, eliminate the potential for observational learning, and require far more instructional time than do group formats (Favell, Favell, & McGimsey, 1978; Keel & Gast, 1992; Koegel, Egel, & Dunlap, 1980). The ability to follow instructions delivered to a group is essential to successful integration in school, vocational, and community settings. This symposium will explore ways to assess the ability to acquire novel skills and maintain existing skill repertoires in individual instruction, dyad instruction, and small group instruction. Additional information about instructional efficiency and the rates of challenging behaviors in these instructional formats will be discussed.

Keyword(s): Group Instruction

Getting to Group Instruction: Evaluating the Ability of Learners With Autism to Work in Small Groups

HELENA L. MAGUIRE (Melmark New England), Catherine Judkins (Melmark New England), Katrina Grandelski (Melmark New England)

Fading intensive staffing is essential to the promotion of independence and successful transitioning to less restrictive settings. However, concerns about behavioral regression and slower rate of acquisition coupled with limited guidelines on the assessment of instruction arrangements often result in long term provision of individual instruction. Therefore, an instructional protocol was designed to assess a learners academic and clinical performance in individual and group instruction. Variables assessed included the ability to learn new material, levels of engagement in independent activities, rates of challenging behavior, and maintenance of mastered targets in individualized and group instructional arrangements. Initial data collected using this protocol demonstrate that a learner continued to learn novel skills while maintaining previously mastered skills in small group instruction. Data also demonstrate that the learner engaged in low level problem behavior while engaging in adaptive skills such as functional communication, leisure and waiting skills. Follow-up data will be shared with a focus on the expansion of this protocol for larger periods of the instructional day.


Group Instructional Strategies With Clients With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Jill E. McGrale Maher (Autism Intervention Specialists), KRISTI LOMBARDO (Autism Intervention Specialists), Britany Melton (Britany Melton), Ian Melton (Endicott College)

A series of studies exploring the impact of instructional ratio on learning will be described. The presentation will begin by reviewing various levels of staffing support provided to individuals with autism. The first study evaluated criteria to guide clinicians in moving students to group instructional formats. Targeted behaviors included stereotypy, engagement, active responding, and the presence of other challenging behaviors, and three different instructional content areas were evaluated. Criteria were set to guide clinicians in decisions to reduce the intensity of staffing along the various levels of support. Study two looked at skill acquisition in individual and dyad instruction, with an additional focus on observational learning opportunities. The final study looked at individual, dyad and triad instruction across learners, and evaluated how the size of the group affected rates of learning. The discussion will highlight individual differences in appropriateness for transitioning to group instruction, and will hypothesize about predictive variables.

Differential Performance in Individual and Dyad Instructional Arrangements
JENNIFER CRONER (Melmark), Samantha Smith (Melmark), Jessica Woods (Melmark), Mary Jane Weiss (Melmark), Helena L. Maguire (Melmark New England)
Abstract: The ability of individuals with autism to learn in a group instructional format will promote independence and facilitate transition into settings with less intensive staffing. The purpose of this study was to compare acquisition and maintenance of verbal behavior targets in individual and dyad arrangements. The participants of this study were two young males diagnosed with autism, who attend an approved private school and reside at home with their parents/guardians. An alternating treatments design was used to evaluate the differences between individual and dyad instruction across several dependent variables. The dependent variables measured were cumulative targets mastered, out-of-seat behavior, and amount of time spent in instruction, on break, and waiting. Individual and group instruction were compared across three different verbal behavior operants: match to sample, motor imitation, and listener responding. Sessions were randomized across type of instruction and operant. Interobserver agreement and procedural integrity were collected for at least 25% of sessions across treatments. Preliminary data suggest that performance is based on individual differences. Therefore, future directions for evaluating performance should focus on measures related to characteristics of the individual.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh