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 #361
CE Offered: BACB
Task Presentation and Reinforcement Schedule Manipulations in Facilitating Skill Acquisition
Monday, May 31, 2010
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon A (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Natalie Rolider (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: David Wilder, Ph.D.
Abstract: Four papers describing manipulations to task presentation and reinforcement schedules and their effects on skill acquisition will be presented. The first study compared the effects of massed and interspersed trials on sight-word reading in typically developing preschool children. In addition, the authors examined whether reinforcement and error correction procedures were necessary for skill acquisition and participants’ preferences for the training procedures. The second study examined the effects of pictures paired with associated words on performance of sight-word recognition in three children with autism. The blocking effect typically observed under these preparations was further examined with the inclusion of both familiar and unfamiliar pictures during training. The third study evaluated the effects of differential reinforcement of independent versus prompted responses in reducing prompt dependency and facilitating sight-word to picture discriminations. Two children with autism received a highly-preferred reinforcer following correct, independent responses and either a) a highly-preferred reinforcer, b) a moderately-preferred reinforcer, or c) no reinforcement following correct, prompted responses. The fourth study examined rates of task completion during token- and exchange-production schedule thinning conditions. Two participants with mental retardation showed different sensitivities to schedule thinning with token-reinforced behavior.
Massed Versus Interspersed Training: An Evaluation of the Variables That Affect Response Acquisition
ERICA SEVERTSON (University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (University of Kansas), Pamela L. Neidert (University of Kansas), Brooke Ashley Jones (University of Kansas), Amy Harper (University of Kansas)
Abstract: When evaluating the effectiveness of teaching strategies, one important variable is the order and composition of training trials which are presented. Several researchers have shown that interspersal of previously acquired (maintenance) tasks among new (acquisition) tasks is a superior training procedure as compared to a massed-trial procedure (Dunlap, 1984; Neef, Iwata, & Page, 1977; Schroeder & Baer, 1972), but the mechanism(s) by which interspersing previously mastered items with acquisition items has not been systematically assessed. The purposes of the current study are to (a) compare the effects of a massed- vs. interspersed-trial training for teaching sight-word reading to typically developing preschool children , (b) determine the necessity of reinforcement and error correction procedures for skill acquisition under massed and interspersed training conditions, and (c) determine child preference for these training procedures. Results of the study suggest (a) massed-trial training is equally effective to interspersed-trial training for teaching sight-word reading to typical preschool children, (b) acquisition under both conditions occurs in the absence of reinforcement (i.e., when error correction alone is delivered), and (c) most participants have shown a preference for interspersed- over massed-trial training procedures regardless of whether reinforcers are delivered.
Further Analysis of Blocking When Teaching Word Recognition to Children With Autism
LAURA HARPER-DITTLINGER (Texana Behavior Treatment & Training Center), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: Previous research indicates that pairing pictures with associated words when teaching sight-word reading may hinder acquisition (e.g., Didden, Prinsen, & Sigafoos, 2000; Singh & Solman, 1990; Solman & Singh, 1993). However, little is known about the mechanism(s) responsible for this phenomenon. In the current study, three children with autism were taught to recognize words that were presented alone or paired with pictures that the participants either could or could not identify prior to training. All participants learned the words more quickly when they were presented alone rather than with pictures, regardless of the participants’ prior learning history with respect to pictures representing the words. This finding is consistent with the phenomenon of overshadowing. Nonetheless, consistent with blocking, all participants also acquired the words presented alone more quickly if the participants could not identify the associated pictures prior to training. Together, these findings have important implications for using prompts when teaching skills to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Differential Reinforcement of Prompted and Independent Responses: An Alternative Procedure to Decrease Prompt Dependency
CATIA CIVIDINI-MOTTA CIVIDINI (New England Center for Children), Tala Williford (New England Center for Children), Kathleen M. Clark (The New England Center For Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: This study attempted to identify a procedure which would be effective at decreasing prompt dependency and facilitating acquisition of sight word to picture discrimination. Several assessments were conducted to determine the most effective and most preferred reinforcer for each of the two participants while also identifying another stimulus which had moderately reinforcing effects. Three sets of three sight words were then taught to each of the participants using three reinforcement procedures. Reinforcement for independent and correct responses was the same across all three procedures, the highest preference stimulus; however, these conditions differed in that reinforcement for correct, prompted responses was either the same (noDR), was a moderate reinforcer (DR1), or reinforcement was not provided (DR2). Interobserver agreement (IOA) and procedural integrity (PI) data were collected over 33% of the sessions across both the reinforcer and the training phases and averaged over 90% agreement. The results of this study suggest that providing the most effective and preferred reinforcer following independent and correct responses while delivering a moderate reinforcer contingent on prompted and correct response was the most effective reinforcement procedure.
Production Ratios and Schedule Thinning in Token Reinforcement
KATHRYN JANN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), SungWoo Kahng (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Nicole Lynn Hausman (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Barbara Tomlian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mariana I. Castillo Irazabal (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Token economies are second-order schedules commonly implemented to increase task completion in school and vocational settings. Basic research shows that token-reinforced behavior is affected by token- and exchange-production ratios (Bullock & Hackenberg, 2006; Foster & Hackenberg, 2004; Kelleher, 1957; Webb & Malgodi, 1978). Analogue clinical studies are needed to assess responding while thinning token reinforcement. During the current study, rates of task completion and pre-ratio pauses exhibited by 2 individuals diagnosed with mental retardation were assessed under a free-operant arrangement. Task completion was assessed during two conditions in which either the token- or exchange-production schedule was thinned. During baseline in both conditions, task completion resulted in no programmed consequence. Following token training, one production schedule was thinned in each condition while the other schedule was held constant at FR1. Idiosyncratic responding was observed across participants during reinforcement thinning. For example, Oliver’s response rates decreased and were sensitive to changes in token-production. His pre-ratio pauses increased and were sensitive to changes in exchange-production. Overall, Mari’s response rates increased and her pre-ratio pauses decreased with more sensitivity to token-production. These findings build upon basic and applied research by providing information on methods of thinning token-reinforced task completion.



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