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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #26
CE Offered: BACB
Health, Sports, & Fitness SIG Symposium 2: Variables Affecting Children's Engagement in Physical Exercise and Play
Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–2:50 PM
W181a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DEV/PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Annabelle Winters (Garden Center Services, Inc.)
Discussant: Albert Malkin (ErinoakKids)
CE Instructor: Albert Malkin, M.A.

The importance of play and leisure skills has been documented in both the behavioral and non-behavioral literature. Children without sufficient repertoires of play and leisure skills are less likely to succeed in school and more likely to engage in atypical rates of inappropriate behavior. Physical play and exercise have been specifically noted in the literature to result in global benefits, improving health and wellbeing as well as interpersonal social skills. However, cultural changes in the United States have led to a decreased emphasis on physical play and exercise in children, resulting in deficits in these repertoires. In this symposium, variables affecting children's engagement in physical exercise and play will be discussed, specifically 1) teaching water tolerance as a prerequisite skill for swimming, 2) assessments of young children's engagement with specific environmental features on playgrounds and in natural play settings and interventions to increase the intensity, variety, and total amount of time spent in physical activity, 3) the utility of and effectiveness of peer tutoring models in physical education classes, and 4) the growing body of literature citing the positive benefits of exercise for school age children with ADHD or emotional and behavioral disorders.

Keyword(s): exercise, leisure skills, social skills

Behavioral Techniques for Teaching Pre-requisite Swim Skills to Water-Avoidant Young Children

NICOLE A. HILL (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles Campus)

Swimming is an important life safety skill that children should learn for drowning prevention. Statistics provided from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger. Some children may have difficulty learning to swim, presenting as having a fear of water, or simply refusing to get their face wet. Problem behavior associated with the water may create multiple barriers to learning to swim. There are only two main strategies for dealing with children's water avoidance. A "gentle" method associated with classical conditioning and desensitization, and a "safety first" method, which is associated with flooding and extinction. This study evaluated the "gentle" method, and introduced a third strategy that uses differential reinforcement as an effective approach for water-avoidant children. The participants included three children who demonstrated problem behavior associated with having water on their faces. The dependent measure was the child's performance of successive approximations to the final target behavior which was defined as pouring a cup of water over his/her head three times without problem behavior. Treatment results showed the differential reinforcement condition was more effective than the gentle method alone for two out of three children.


The Potential Value of Classwide Peer Tutoring to Enhance Social Competence of Children in Physical Activity and Education Settings

SHIRI AYVAZO (David Yellin Academic College)

Social skills are foundation to any interaction among people, whether learning, playing, or working. Physical education, like a mirror of life, invites a myriad of social interactions children do not always know how to handle, and are only rarely formally taught to navigate. Peer tutoring is a pedagogy that can provide critical social learning opportunities, in addition to academic learning. Classwide peer tutoring (CWPT), a peer tutoring variation, is an evidence-based pedagogy initially designed for elementary students in core subjects such as reading, spelling and math, but has successfully generalized to the improvement of motor and physical activity performance in physical education settings. Despite its inherited social orientation, CWPT's contribution to students' social competence in these settings has not been fully explored to date. The purpose of this presentation is to illuminate the potential need and value of CWPT to enhance social competence in physical education. Examples of CWPT applications in physical education will be shared along with its effects on students' motor performance. Rationale for the need in a socially-based pedagogy in physical education will be discussed, and preliminary data examples of social performance gains will be shared.

Behavior Analytic Interventions to Increase Young Children's Physical Activity in Outdoor Play Settings
SHERRY L. SCHWEIGHARDT (Temple University), Michael Sachs (Temple University), Philip N. Hineline (Temple University - Emeritus)
Abstract: The prevalence of obesity among preschool children has markedly increased over the past two decades (Koplan, Liverman, & Krak, 2005); recent studies show that 3-5 year-old children typically fail to meet recommended daily physical activity guidelines, spending just 15 minutes engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity, compared to six sedentary hours each day (Dolinsky et al., 2011; Reilly, 2010). Unstructured play in outdoor settings with varied features potentially plays a significant role in increasing the amount of time preschoolers spend engaging in physical activity and decreasing sedentary time, an independent health risk factor. The procedures featured in this presentation are designed to assess young children's engagement with specific environmental features on playgrounds and in natural play settings and to test interventions to increase the intensity, variety, and total amount of time spent in physical activity. Considerations in implementing the procedures at a small Montessori preschool and a large urban community playground will be reviewed. The discussion will focus upon the ways in which the results of these procedures may be used by pediatricians, parents, educators, playground designers, community planners, and policy makers who focus on increasing preschool children's daily physical activity and decreasing childhood obesity.
Variables of Importance in Creating an Exercise Program for improving Behavior in ADHD and EBD Students
Abstract: There is a small but growing body of research looking at the positive benefits of exercise for school age children with ADHD or emotional and behavioral disorders. This research is beginning to show that even one bout of exercise can have positive benefits on classroom behavior and academic performance. This meta-analysis included 7 single case design studies, with a total of 36 participants of school age children with emotional disturbances. There has been no consensus on a specific effect size for single case studies. Studies were analyzed using three independent effect sizes as a triangulation of metrics. The three metrics chose are percent exceeding the mean (PEM), standard mean difference (SMD) and improvement rate difference (IRD). 47 independent effect sizes were calculated in each of the three metrics. Results showed moderate to large effect sizes for outcomes measuring behavior and academic performance. Caution should be used in interpreting results due to the limited number of participants and limited number of high quality studies, but promising that all studies and effect sizes show a trend that exercise can improve classroom behavior and academic performance.



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