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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #22
CE Offered: BACB
Employment Preparation in the Therapeutic Workplace: Reinforcement-Based Training for Unemployed Drug Users
Saturday, May 29, 2010
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Travis C/D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: BPH; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: James H. Boscoe (Johns Hopkins University)
Discussant: Jesse Dallery (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Nirvana Pistoljevic, Ph.D.
Abstract: The Therapeutic Workplace is an employment-based intervention for chronic unemployment and drug addiction. Therapeutic Workplace participants are unemployed and have little or no work experience. Many of the Therapeutic Workplace participants have less than a 12th grade education. In preparation for employment, the Therapeutic Workplace intervention offers training in keyboarding and other computer skills, GED preparation, and appropriate interpersonal behavior in the workplace. To promote attendance and active participation in the training programs, participants receive monetary vouchers contingent on attendance and training performance. This symposium will describe recent research on several of the employment and academic training programs used in the Therapeutic Workplace. Our first presentation will focus on the reinforcement effects of voucher payments on attendance and typing performance. Another presentation will describe skill acquisition on a self-paced computerized math training program (iPass) as an initial step in preparation for the high school equivalency examination. A final presentation will describe a system for monitoring and modifying interpersonal and customer service behaviors during patient interactions with staff and peers. All presentations will include data to demonstrate the effects of the interventions on the target behaviors and discuss future directions for expansion of the employment training programs in the Therapeutic Workplace.
Positive Reinforcement Improves Attendance and Achievement on Self-Paced Typing Training Programs in a Therapeutic Workplace for Alcohol Dependence
MIKHAIL KOFFARNUS (University of Michigan), Conrad J. Wong (University of Kentucky), Karly N. Diemer (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Michael Fingerhood (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), George Bigelow (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Kenneth Silverman (Johns Hopkins University)
Abstract: The Therapeutic Workplace is an effective drug abuse treatment that integrates abstinence reinforcement into a work setting, using wages that drug abusers earn for work to reinforce abstinence. In the current study, individuals who were homeless, unemployed and dependent upon alcohol were assigned to a "work only" (n = 42), "abstinence and work" (n = 43) or "no voucher" (n = 39) group. All participants were invited to work in the Therapeutic Workplace four hours per weekday for 26 weeks. Participants in the "work only" and "abstinence and work" groups could earn up to $5 per hour in base pay and additional earnings for performance on computerized, self-paced typing training programs. "Work only" and "no voucher" participants could work independent of daily and random breath results, while "abstinence" and "work" participants could work only when their breath samples demonstrated alcohol abstinence. The differential reinforcement contingencies in place impacted attendance and typing training performance, with the"no voucher" group making significantly less progress than the "abstinence" and "work" and "work only" groups. This demonstrates that performance-based contingencies can improve attendance and training program progress. Training program results in relation to the attendance and performance-based contingencies and alcohol use will be discussed.
Academic Training in the Therapeutic Workplace
JAMES H. BOSCOE (Johns Hopkins University), Anthony DeFulio (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), David A. MacQueen (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Mick J. Needham (Johns Hopkins University), Kenneth Silverman (Johns Hopkins University)
Abstract: The Therapeutic Workplace intervention has traditionally included self-paced computerized training designed to teach participants to become data entry operators in preparation for employment. Many of the participants attending the Therapeutic Workplace have not earned a high school degree or equivalent which may be a barrier to employment. Therefore we have expanded our training curriculum to include training in basic math skills (iPass) as an initial step in preparation for the high school equivalency exam. As with the typing training program the math training is delivered via computer which simplifies the process of tailoring training to individual patient needs. The present discussion will provide an overview of the math training program. Data will be presented to (1) demonstrate the effect of the training program on the Wide Range Achievement Test scores and (2) provide description of earnings and progress through the training. Future plans for expansion of the academic training curriculum in the Therapeutic Workplace will be discussed.
Professional Demeanor in the Therapeutic Workplace: Monitoring Interpersonal and Customer Service Behaviors
BRANDON RING (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Sigurdur Oli Sigurdsson (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mick J. Needham (Johns Hopkins University), James H. Boscoe (Johns Hopkins University), Kenneth Silverman (Johns Hopkins University)
Abstract: Developing interpersonal work skills (e.g., making eye contact, orienting your body towards others you are conversing with) and customer service type skills (e.g., saying thank you when appropriate, not interrupting an ongoing conversation) are potentially important factors of vocational training. We monitored trainee behaviors on closed circuit cameras located at two different rooms in the Therapeutic Workplace which had multiple staff and trainee interactions during the day. Behaviors monitored included trainees’ first entrance greetings; respectfulness toward staff members (i.e., body orientation); ID card exchanges (e.g., handing the card to a staff member; saying “thank you” in appropriate situations); voucher exchange and making eye contact with Classroom staff and Lab staff during three separate interactions occurring each workday. A need for developing these skills was determined based on a large subset of participants consistently obtaining low scores on three professional demeanor dimensions measured with the Work Behavior Inventory, (i.e., social skills, cooperativeness, personal presentation). Planned interventions and preliminary data will be presented.



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