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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #30
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Observational Learning in Children With Autism and Social Delays: Recent Advances in Research and Practice
Saturday, May 26, 2018
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall D
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group)
Discussant: William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Jaime DeQuinzio, Ph.D.

The focus of this symposium will be to present recent research that has focused on improving observational in children with autism and social delays both in-vivo and with video models. The first paper evaluated the effects of teaching children with autism to engage in self-echoic responses during in-vivo observational learning on the learning of tacts. Both participants learned the picture labels faster in the condition where they were taught to engage in self-echoic responses than in the condition where they were not required to use the self-echoic responses. In the second paper, three children with autism learned to engage in sharing responses during play with the successive introduction of observational learning presenting on video plus verbal coaching while viewing the video. Participants in this study also generalized sharing responses to non-teaching conditions including novel toys, in the absence of a teacher, and to siblings. In the third study, participants with social delays showed improved performance with sequencing pictures and learned to tact two and three-digit numbers during in-vivo observational learning but not via video. Participants in the video condition showed improved performance of known tasks but did not learn new responses. In the final study, the authors assessed the direct and indirect effects of training by assessing observational learning before and after instruction across tasks and task variations during both in-vivo and video model probes. All participants acquired the prerequisite skills and demonstrated observational learning during probes of directly-trained tasks, but generalization was variable.

Keyword(s): learning/ performance, observational learning, video modeling
Target Audience:

BCBAs, practitioners, researchers, graduate students, teachers


Evaluation of the Effects of Teaching Self-Echoic Responses on Observational Learning in Children With Autism

JAIME DEQUINZIO (Alpine Learning Group), Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group)

Observational learning is essential for a child with autism to learn academic responses and to reduce reliance on one-to-one instruction. Imitation of the responses observed during observational learning contexts may facilitate OL and research indicates that typically developing children engage in verbal rehearsals (self-echoics)to facilitate recall of responses. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of self-echoic responses on learning picture labels via observational learning. In one condition, participants were taught to engage in self-echoic responses (i.e., repeat the modeled response three times, first out loud, then using a whisper, and finally to mouth the response) immediately after the adult modeled the picture label. In the probe condition, participants did not learn self-echoic responses. Both participants learned the new picture labels faster in the self-echoic condition compared with the probe condition. Areas for future research and practice implications will be addressed.


Observational Learning of Social Responses by Children With Autism: Evaluation of Video Modeling and Verbal Coaching

Bridget A. Taylor (Alpine Learning Group), Elliot Recchia (Alpine Learning Group), STEPHANIE VENTURA (Alpine Learning Group), Jaime DeQuinzio (Alpine Learning Group)

Children with autism exhibit significant deficits in social responses such as sharing. Past research has demonstrated that children with autism can learn academic responses via observational learning, however to date learning social responses via observational learning has not been demonstrated. The purpose of the current study was to use a multiple-baseline design to evaluate the effectiveness of observational learning via video and verbal coaching on teaching sharing to three children with autism during play. During baseline, no participants shared when they entered a room with others playing. During intervention, participants viewed a video in which a peer earned reinforcement for sharing with the person who had no toys. We also used verbal coaching with rules while the participants watched the video. Sharing increased for all three participants with generalization of sharing responses to toys never associated with training, when the teacher was not present during playtime, and to siblings.


The Effects of Peer Monitoring on Observational Stimulus Control in Preschoolers With and Without Social Delays: In-Vivo Versus Video and Learning Versus Performance

Bianca Vassare (Columbia University, Teachers College), JESSICA SINGER-DUDEK (Teachers College, Columbia University)

A peer-monitoring intervention in both in-vivo and video conditions, counterbalanced across participants, was implemented with 12 preschoolers to induce observational stimulus control. In the first experiment, only participants who had completed the intervention in-vivo acquired both observational learning and performance capabilities. Completing the intervention in the video condition alone was not effective in inducing observational learning, but was effective in establishing observational performance. Both in-vivo and video pre-intervention probes were conducted in the second experiment; results were similar to those found in Experiment 1. These findings demonstrate that the peer-monitoring intervention led to the emergence of observational performance, however, the presence of a peer audience was the necessary component to induce observational learning. Furthermore, participants who were in the presence of a peer audience emitted higher frequencies of social contact in a free operant play setting than their peers who lacked a peer audience during the intervention.


Teaching Observational Learning to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: An In-Vivo and Video-Model Assessment

ELIZABETH MCKAY SANSING (University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas)

Observational learning (OL) occurs when an individual contacts reinforcement as a result of discriminating the reinforced and nonreinforced responses of another individual. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have deficits in observational learning, and previous research has demonstrated that teaching a series of prerequisite skills (i.e., attending, imitation, delayed imitation, and consequence discrimination) can facilitate observational learning. We sequentially taught these prerequisite skills for three young children with ASD across three play-based tasks. We assessed OL before and after instruction across tasks and task variations (for two participants) during in-vivo and video-model probes using a concurrent multiple-probe design. All participants acquired the prerequisite skills and demonstrated observational learning during probes of directly-trained tasks. Generalization results varied across participants. Generalization occurred during the in-vivo probe for both participants for whom we assessed this response. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.




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