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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #307
CE Offered: BACB — 
Technology for Teaching and Training: Virtual Reality Applications Across Populations
Sunday, May 29, 2022
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 251
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Casey J. Clay (Children's Hospital of Orange County)
Discussant: Richard W. Serna (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
CE Instructor: Richard W. Serna, Ph.D.

To be effective behavior analysts must adapt to an ever changing world. This involves using the latest technology to progress our science and practice across all domains. In this symposium four data-based studies will be presented that span multiple areas of behavior analysis. All studies include a cutting-edge tool for teaching and training: virtual reality. Virtual reality is a tool that can be used across populations and settings and offers advantages that behavior analysts can leverage when applying our science. Discussion of how behavior science can be integrated into powerful technology including virtual reality will be included.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): skills training, teaching, technology, virtual reality
Target Audience:

The target audience is broad and will include researchers, practitioners, and those interested in technological applications of behavioral science.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify novel and effective practices in skills training; (2) Describe how skills training can be accomplished via the use of technology including video modeling and virtual reality; (3) Participants will be able to plan for how to incorporate technology in their supervision and training of students and practitioners to be more effective and efficient.
Exploring Teacher’s Preferences for Learning Behavioral Skills in Simulated Learning Environments
AARON J. FISCHER (University of Utah), Chathuri Illapperuma (University of Utah), Matt Roberts (University of Utah), Haylee Heller (University of Utah)
Abstract: Teachers require ongoing professional development and support on behavior management to best educate their students. Typically this work is completed in-service and in an experiential format with students. Simulating training opportunities for teachers, through virtual reality, provides a chance to learn skills and practice is a safe environment. As our team develops this training platform, we conducted a study exploring pre-service teachers preference for learning behavioral skills in a simulated learning environment (virtual reality). We conducted a mixed method study assessing acceptability for training in VR (pre/post) a brief experience in a virtual reality headset. Further, we conducted semi-structed interviews to asses preferences for training and social validity of elements to include. A total of 15 participants are enrolled in this study. The specific aim of our semi-structured aspect of the study is to identify: (a) the user’s task language, used to describe concepts, (b) the design tool’s input language, used to articulate the task to the tool, (c) the design tool’s output language, used by the tool to present changes to the user, and (d) the user’s environmental representation of the task, updated by observing the tool’s output.

Comparing the Effects of a Lecture and Feedback and Virtual Reality and Feedback on Teacher Performance and Generalization of Discrete Trial Training Skills

Lára Borg Bolladóttir (Reykjavík University and Klettaskóli), ASA INGIMARSDOTTIR (Klettaskóli), Berglind Sveinbjornsdottir (Reykjavik University)

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) methods are beneficial for teaching new skills set to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study aims to replicate and modify Sveinbjo¨rnsdo´ttir et al. (2019), who examined the effects of VR in training DTT skills, with two sets of studies. In the first study we examined how long participants reached mastery criteria in DTT after a lecture on how to implement DTT. In the second study a multiple baseline design across participants was used to examine how fast participants reached mastery criteria in DTT after VR training. In addition, we examined if the skills acquired in Study 1 and 2 generalized when implementing DTT with students. Participants in Study 1 acquired the DTT skills after on average 18 sessions. Participants in Study 2 acquired the DTT skills after four VR sessions on average, and the skills generalized to a regular teaching environment with ASD students and across different teaching tasks. In addition, the VR training produced fewer errors in the natural teaching environment compared to the lecture format. These results suggest that VR training might be a beneficial training method since it can minimize the time required in training and produce higher performance accuracy.


Technology-Based Interventions for Increasing Social Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

CANNON OUSLEY (University of Missouri), Casey J. Clay (Children's Hospital of Orange County), Chad Rose (University of Missouri), Janine Stichter (University of Missouri)

Social skills deficits are a defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In this literature review researchers examined articles that specifically focused on technology-based interventions for teaching social skills to children with ASD. Researchers extracted content related to format of technology, specific social skills taught, and effectiveness of intervention. Researchers also conducted a quality assessment of all included studies using What Works Clearinghouse standards. Researchers found positive effects in 12 of the 13 studies reviewed. Video modeling was the most prevalent format of technology used. Virtual reality interventions are increasing and made up 38% of the studies reviewed. Specific participant, setting, and procedural features that lead to the most effective intervention outcomes are highlighted, and implications for future research is discussed.


Working Through: Using Virtual Reality to Teach Social Skills for Employment to Individuals With Autism

HELENA LYDON (National University of Ireland Galway), Jennifer Holloway (National University of Ireland, Galway)

: Individuals with Autism face challenges with securing and maintain meaningful employment. Deficits in social skills are often considered the primary barrier for individuals with Autism in accessing this sector. Working Through used virtual reality to deliver a social skills intervention aimed at teaching 6 core social skills related to employment. The target skills included emotional recognition, initiating a conversation with a colleague, meeting friends/stranger, negotiating with a salesperson, working with a co-worker and managing conflict, and a job interview. Applied Behaviour Analysis was embedded in the pedagogical framework used to design the learning scenarios for each social skill. Participants included individuals with Autism across four countries: Ireland, Denmark, Cyprus, and Greece. Tests of knowledge and skill were taken as pre and post measures. In addition, performance within the virtual reality scenarios was also recorded. Social validity data was also gathered for participants and trainers. The results showed an increase in knowledge and skill following the intervention. Social validity data highlight the acceptability of virtual reality for both the participants and the trainers. The clinical outcomes and utility of virtual reality are discussed in the context of the current findings.




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