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 #155
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Academic Time on Task: A Tale of Conditioned Reinforcers and Behavioral Momentum
Sunday, May 30, 2010
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EDC/TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: David L. Lee (The Pennsylvania State University)
Discussant: Christopher Skinner (University of Tennessee)
CE Instructor: Michael Miklos, M.S.
Abstract: Given the link between time on task and achievement, increasing task persistence can be a very real problem in educational settings. One method for increasing persistence, reinforcing task completion, can be effective at addressing this problem. However, for some students who engage in task-related behaviors infrequently, waiting to reinforce can be counterproductive in terms of practitioner and student time. Two strategies, high probability (high-p) request sequences and task interspersal provide practitioners with proactive methods that have been demonstrated to be effective at increasing students' initial rate of responding to non-preferred tasks. Once the initial rate of responding is increased, additional reinforcers can be delivered to help maintain the behavior at an acceptable rate. Both interventions work under the assumption that task completion can act as a conditioned reinforcer and that schedules of reinforcement for a task can be manipulated through the addition of several brief tasks to target assignments. The purpose of this symposium is discuss three studies that examined the effects of interspersal and high-probability sequences on academic task persistence.
The Effects of High-Probability Fluency on Low-Probability Math Problem Completion
BROOKE LYLO (The Pennsylvania State University), David L. Lee (Penn State University), Brooks R. Vostal (Penn State University)
Abstract: The use of high-probability (high-p) sequences has been demonstrated to be an effective method to increase compliance with and encourage persistence in academic tasks. High-p sequences increase the rate of responding and the subsequent rate of responding within a response class. This increased density of reinforcement appears to establish a momentum effect that results in decreased latencies to initiate low probability (low-p) tasks. In this study, we examined the effects of a fluency intervention to increase the rate of responding within the high-p sequence. In a multiple baseline design, three students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) experienced high-p sequences of single-digit multiplication comparable to previous studies (e.g., Belfiore et al., 1997; Lee et al., 2004; 2008). Results replicated those found in earlier studies. A fluency intervention (i.e., flashcard drill) was presented to participants until each met criterion. The final phase presented these fluent single-digit multiplication problems to participants as the high-p sequence. Results showed an initial increase in latencies to initiate subsequent low-p problems for two of the three participants compared to the traditional high-p phase. The findings are discussed in terms of behavioral contrast effects.
Effects of High-p Readability on Reading Persistence of Adolescents With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
BROOKS R. VOSTAL (The Pennsylvania State University), David L. Lee (The Pennsylvania State University), Brooke Lylo (The Pennsylvania State University)
Abstract: Adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) often fail to learn literacy skills, in part because of the disruptive behaviors they present in academic settings, characterized by a lack of task engagement and persistence. High probability (high-p) request sequences have been shown to increase compliance and academic persistence. The current study extends research on the high-p sequence into a new academic task: reading. Reading represents a fundamentally different application of high-p sequences because it is a continuous task, rather than a series of discrete tasks. Using alternated paragraph readability, high-p paragraphs decreased the latency to initiate low-p paragraphs, representing an aspect of increased task persistence, in three adolescents with EBD during an alternating treatments design. Results are discussed in terms of the theory of behavioral momentum (Nevin, Mendall, & Atak, 1983) and the nature of high probability tasks.
The Effects of Task Interspersal and Contingencies on Student Choice of Academic Materials
YOUJIA HUA (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Task interspersal is an academic material modification procedure designed to make task completion more reinforcing. It is implemented by adding a sequence of brief tasks prior to more difficult or nonpreferred target academic tasks. This procedure results in an increase in the number of conditioned reinforcers available for completing a given task. Recently, reserachers found that task contingencies and the interspersal procedure may interactively influence student choice of academic materials. The purpose of this study is to extend the previous research using a different interspersal ratio. In this study a concurrent-schedule design with a reversal was used to compare the students' choice of worksheets when working under different task contingencies. Student choice of materials and task performance data will be presented.



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