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 #392
CE Offered: BACB
The Marriage of Percentile and Precision: Shaping Academic Behaviors Using Percentile Schedules
Monday, May 31, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon A (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EDC/EAB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Jeffrey Gesick (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Henry S. Pennypacker (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Grant Gautreaux, Ph.D.
Abstract: Although firmly seated in our basic science, shaping procedures throughout behavior analysis tend to resemble more of an art than a science. Precision Teaching (PT) frequently utilizes shaping procedures as a means of increasing response frequencies. Unfortunately, the PT literature remains unclear as to how specific reinforcement parameters used during shaping affect critical learning variables. However, basic studies have shown percentile schedules of reinforcement to be a more systematic and effective method to shape behavior. Across three papers, the current symposium will identify the relevance of percentile schedules of reinforcement for PT practices. Specifically, the first paper will provide an overview of percentile schedule methodology and how it specifically applies to the kinds of shaping procedures utilized by precision teachers. In the second paper, clinical data from a PT center will be presented that compares the effects of percentile schedules versus more traditional methods on the shaping of frequencies on academic tasks. In the third paper, data will be presented from a controlled study empirically evaluating specific parameters of percentile schedules and their effect on the shaping of response frequencies. Clinical and empirical implications of percentile schedules for PT, and behavior analysis more generally, will be offered.
A Case for Incorporating Percentile Schedules Into Precision Teaching Practices: A Systematic Approach to Shaping Response Frequencies
JEFFREY GESICK (University of North Texas), Kerri K. Milyko (University of Nevada, Reno), Kimberly Nix Berens (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.)
Abstract: Educating children is one of the most important practices in society; however, mainstream education has failed at this process in many respects. Precision Teaching (PT), a branch of behavior analysis, has provided both clinically and empirically supported technologies that are relevant for improving educational outcomes. Of main concern for precision teachers is the establishment of “fluency” or “true mastery” of academic repertoires. More often than not, fluency is synonymous with high response frequencies. As such, a main practice in PT is the use of shaping procedures to build frequencies on academic skills to levels that indicate mastery. However, as in other areas of behavior analysis, shaping tends to be implemented based on “feel” rather than on a set of systematic procedures. In our basic science, percentile schedules of reinforcement have been demonstrated to be a more systematic means of shaping behavioral repertoires and training others in the shaping process. This presentation will provide a conceptual account of the relevance of percentile schedules for PT practices. A detailed methodology for using percentile schedules in the shaping of response frequencies will be offered. Finally, “plain English” strategies for training precision teachers in the usage of percentile schedules of reinforcement will be provided.
Bringing Basic Science Into an Applied Setting: Using the Percentile Schedule to Take the Art Out of Shaping
MOLLY HALLIGAN (University Nevada, Reno), Kerri K. Milyko (University of Nevada, Reno), Kimberly Nix Berens (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.)
Abstract: Precision Teaching methods have produced fluent academic behaviors. Traditionally, shaping fluent behaviors has occurred through the reinforcement of behavior streams, or timings, resulting in the highest frequency. However, delivering reinforcement contingent upon “personal best” performance often produces responding similar to that of ratio strain. Regularly, precision teachers identify this ratio strain; often providing reinforcement for behaviors that do not necessarily meet any sort of criterion (e.g., sympathy reinforcement). However, there are exceptional precision teachers that have their own shaping process developed through an extensive history of interactions with a multitude of learners. Unfortunately, these methods are difficult to teach and remain rather artistic in nature. Being a natural science, it is surprising that an artistic technique remains the predominant shaping method in behavior analysis. Diversely, percentile schedules of reinforcement allow for a more systematic shaping procedure, removing the artistic “feeling” of shaping. Therefore, the current presentation will show clinical data from a learning center that uses Galbicka’s percentile schedule in various ways with different types of learners. Data will be discussed with respect to frequency, celeration, and variability.
Dissecting the Percentile Schedule Equation: Evaluating the Effects of Various Densities of Reinforcement
KERRI K. MILYKO (University of Nevada, Reno), Kimberly Nix Berens (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.)
Abstract: Percentile schedules of reinforcement have been effective in shaping rate of lever pressing in rats, increasing variability in key pressing with teenagers with autism, decreasing carbon-oxide levels of smokers, increasing eye contact with children with Fragile X syndrome, and increasing on-task behaviors with children with learning disabilities. Within these studies, researchers have evaluated various manipulations of Galbicka’s percentile schedule equation, such as the density of reinforcement and the number of recent observations used to calculate the reinforcement criterion. However, further investigation is warranted, particularly that which evaluates the effects of the schedule alone without an added rule, which may potentially compete with the programmed contingency. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of different densities of reinforcement with college students performing a simple computer task using an A/B/A/C/A/D reversal design with a constant-series control. Data will be examined with respect to frequency, celeration, and variability. Additionally, a discussion will be provided regarding implications of the current study and further directions of investigation.



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