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 #53
CE Offered: BACB
Applications of Concurrent Operant Assessments in Public School Settings
Saturday, May 26, 2018
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom D-F
Area: EDC/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Blair Lloyd (Vanderbilt University)
Discussant: Brenda J. Bassingthwaite (The University of Iowa Children's Hospital)
CE Instructor: Brenda J. Bassingthwaite, Ph.D.

The concurrent operant assessment (COA) has potential as a flexible and socially valid assessment strategy to guide reinforcement-based interventions for students with intensive behavior support needs in schools. In this symposium, we will present a series of data sets illustrating applications of COAs in public education settings. The first two presenters will share results of applied research studies in which COAs were used to inform interventions designed to increase compliance and/or on-task behavior for elementary-age students with or at risk for disabilities. The next two presenters will share data sets accumulated from state-funded projects related to implementing COAs in public school systems. One of these presentations will focus on a series of case summaries from a behavioral consultation model in which COAs have played an integral role. The other will present outcome data from a series of trainings designed to prepare school-based consultants to independently conduct COAs?from assessment design to data analysis and interpretation. Following the four data-based presentations, our discussant will offer comments on strengths and limitations of the works presented, and identify future directions for research and practice with respect to maximizing the impact of these assessments in schools.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): choice assessment, concurrent operants, functional assessment, school
Target Audience:

Our presentation is targeted to behavior analysts who work in educational settings as well as those who conduct behavior analytic research in educational settings.

Learning Objectives: 1. Attendees will be able to identify situations in which concurrent operant assessments may be useful in practice. 2. Attendees will be able to identify specific questions that concurrent operant assessments are suited to address. 3. Attendees will gain an understanding of how results of concurrent operant assessments should be interpreted and used to guide individualized behavioral and/or instructional supports. 4. Attendees will become familiar with a training model used to prepare school consultants to independently conduct concurrent operant assessments.
Utility of Concurrent Operant Assessments to Inform Function-Based Interventions
(Applied Research)
KAYLA RECHELLE RANDALL (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Blair Lloyd (Vanderbilt University), Emily Weaver (Vanderbilt University), Johanna Staubitz (Vanderbilt University), Naomi Parikh (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: For students who engage in passive forms of problem behavior, such as noncompliance and off-task behavior, alternatives to the functional analysis may be needed to identify reinforcers for compliance, work completion, and/or active engagement in instruction. We evaluated the utility of concurrent operant assessments (COAs) to identify reinforcers for work completion for four students with or at risk for emotional/behavioral disorders who engaged in frequent noncompliant and off-task behaviors. For each student, we compared results of researcher- and teacher-implemented COAs. Then, using an alternating treatments design, we compared the effects of an intervention matched to the COA outcome to intervention conditions that were not matched to the COA outcome on levels of work completion and task engagement. For two of the four participants, results of COAs corresponded across implementers and intervention results validated these outcomes. For the other two participants, COA outcomes differed by implementer and results of the intervention comparison were not differentiated. Limitations, implications, and future directions for research on COAs are identified.

CANCELED: Choice Assessment to Evaluate On-Task Classroom Behavior

(Applied Research)
BRITTANY PENNINGTON (University of Minnesota), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota), Jessica J. Simacek (University of Minnesota)

When students engage in persistent off-task and/or noncompliant behavior, they lose instructional time and are more likely to struggle academically and encounter disciplinary action than their on-task peers. Thus, practitioners desire to intervene to increase on-task behavior. For some students, individualized interventions are necessary. Choice assessments are a promising tool to identify variables that promote on-task behavior and compliance in classrooms. We developed a classroom intervention based on the results of a choice assessment for a fourth-grade girl who engaged in frequent off-task behavior. We presented sets of choices that varied task preference and group type in order to determine under what conditions she selected a task and engaged in on-task behavior. Based on the results, we designed an intervention that increased on-task behavior to 90%-100%. The choice assessment and intervention were conducted in the classroom using variables already present in the classroom and with minimal disruption to regular classroom activities.


Oh the Places You'll Go: Concurrent Operant Assessment in School-Based Consults

(Service Delivery)
KATHLEEN SIMCOE (Vanderbilt University Medical Center; TRIAD), John E. Staubitz (Vanderbilt University Medical Center; TRIAD), Katie Gregory (Vanderbilt University Medical Center; TRIAD), A. Pablo Juàrez (Vanderbilt University Medical Center; TRIAD)

Choice assessments have shown promise in a variety of settings for identifying stimuli that may be used as reinforcers within behavioral interventions. One such assessment, the Concurrent Operant Assessment (COA), may be especially promising in educational settings that prioritize safe and efficient strategies to identify potential reinforcers for replacement behavior. Embedded within a behavior consultation model for public school-based teams across our state, we have conducted a series of COAs for students with challenging behavior. The consultations are intended to reduce challenging behaviors that raise safety concerns, interfere with learning, limit student access to the least-restrictive environment, and require high resource usage. Consultants train teams of educators to implement evidence-based treatment programs in the classroom. Within this consultation model, COAs are increasingly used to assess motivating variables and preferences for students and inform treatment decisions related to programmed contingencies of reinforcement for appropriate behavior. Outcome data will be shared on COA results, implications for treatment, and student outcomes.

Outcomes of a Concurrent Operant Assessment Training for School-Based Consultants
(Service Delivery)
AMY GRABER (Grant Wood Area Education Agency), Kristina Miiller (Grant Wood Area Education Agency), Hannah Stokes (Grant Wood Area Education Agency), Jake Vitense (Grant Wood Area Education Agency)
Abstract: Utilizing concurrent operant assessments (COA) while conducting a functional behavior assessment in a school-based environment can more specifically inform special education behavior intervention plans. Training staff who consult in the schools on this technology is important to increase its use and effectiveness. School-based consultants were selected to be trained on this behavior assessment. Skills taught for COAs included designing the assessment, decision-making during the assessment, conducting procedures, data collection, and data analysis. Didactic training was provided followed by on-site training sessions with trainees and students. Trainees were directly observed demonstrating skills and provided necessary coaching. Trainers used task analyses to evaluate trainees’ level of independence in the aforementioned skill areas. Training outcome data indicated that trainees acquired procedures, data collection, and data analysis skills more quickly than assessment design and decision-making skills. A comparison of cohorts of trainees show the groups acquired the same types of skills at similar rates.



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