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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #244
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Trial-Based Intensive Intervention
Sunday, May 24, 2020
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Room 103
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cassandra Standish (Vanderbilt University)
Discussant: S. Shanun Kunnavatana (Easterseals UCP of NC & VA)
CE Instructor: Cassandra Standish, Ph.D.

Although standard functional analysis (FA) can be integral in the design of interventions for challenging behavior, FAs are rarely used. Reasons vary, but often include the amount of challenging behavior FAs evoke, ecological validity, and resource constraints. One viable alternative is trial-based FA (TBFA). TBFAs are conducted through a distributed-trial format, which limits the amount of challenging behavior that can be evoked. Further, TBFAs are typically conducted by indigenous implementers (e.g., teachers) in natural settings (e.g., schools). These simple adaptations address many concerns with FAs and with systematic approaches to intensive intervention (generally). This symposium highlights research, which expands the accessibility and utility of TBFA and trial-based intensive intervention. The first talk highlights a multitiered professional development curriculum aimed at training teachers to implement TBFAs and function-based interventions. The second talk demonstrates potential for establishing expertise on TBFA with minimal resources, using a partially automated training employing the behavior-skills training framework. The third talk extends this work by demonstrating that a similarly formatted training on trial-based FCT can facilitate effective intervention by caregivers with no formal training in behavior analysis. The final study highlights an approach to data analysis that appears to improve efficiency without sacrificing the accuracy of TBFA.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): FCT, TBFA, training caregivers, training teachers
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: To learn more about conducting the trial-based functional analysis and trial-based interventions. Additionally, to learn more about the interpretation of TBFA results.
Supporting School Personnel to Implement Trial-Based Functional Analysis and Function-Based Interventions
ERIC SHANNON (Purdue University), Mandy J. Rispoli (Purdue University), Marie David (Purdue University), Catharine Lory (Purdue University), Emily Gregori (University of Illinois- Chicago), So Yeon Kim (Purdue), Rose A. Mason (Purdue University)
Abstract: Young children with disabilities often require intensive, individualized support for challenging behavior. Yet school personnel are often under trained and under supported in assessing, preventing and responding to challenging behavior in the classroom. We will present two multiple baseline across participant studies evaluating a multitiered professional development curriculum including behavioral skills training at tier 1, coaching at tier 2, and coaching plus self-monitoring at tier 3. The first study evaluates the multitiered curriculum on teacher implementation fidelity of trial-based functional analysis in the classroom. The second study evaluates the effects of the multitiered curriculum on teacher implementation fidelity of function-based intervention based on the trial-based functional analysis results and corresponding effects on child challenging behavior. Implications for behavior analyst interested in school-based consultation and collaboration will be discussed.

Teaching Caregivers to Execute and Interpret Trial-Based Functional Analysis Using a Partially Automated Training Protocol

BAILEY COPELAND (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Cassandra Standish (Vanderbilt University), Kathryn Madesta Bailey (Vanderbilt University), Ipshita` Banerjee (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University)

The trial-based FA can identify functions of challenging behavior in applied settings when resources needed to conduct standard FAs are unavailable. Previous research has demonstrated the potential of partially automated training packages to teach professionals to implement trial-based FAs with fidelity. In our study, we extend this work by using a partially automated training package to teach five caregivers to conduct trial-based FAs in their homes, summarize and interpret the data they collected, and independently identify the functions of the challenging behavior of their own children. We evaluated this training’s effectiveness using a multiple-probe across skills design. All participants mastered targeted competencies. These results might inform decisions about who is qualified to conduct FAs, and under what circumstances


Teaching Caregivers to Execute Trial-Based Functional Communication Training Using a Partially Automated Training Protocol

KATHRYN MADESTA BAILEY (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Cassandra Standish (Vanderbilt University), Ipshita` Banerjee (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University), Bailey Copeland (Vanderbilt University)

Functional communication training (FCT; Carr & Durand, 1985) is ideal for addressing the problem behavior of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities because it increases functional communication while simultaneously reducing problem behavior. By adapting FCT to mirror trial-based FA formats described above, we may increase the feasibility of this highly effective intervention in naturalistic settings. In our study, we used a partially-automated training package, employing BST, to teach caregivers of children with IDD and challenging behavior to implement trial-based FCT. Using a withdrawal design, we analyzed the impact of caregiver-implemented trial-based FCT on the latencies of challenging behavior and functional communication. We also evaluated the extent to which caregivers could implement the intervention with fidelity. Preliminary results suggest caregiver-implemented trial-based FCT can be conducted with fidelity and can effectively reduce problem behavior in home settings. This finding suggests that, with limited support from trained professionals, it can feasible and effective to train indigenous implementers to conduct FCT in their homes.

Improving Efficiency and Accuracy of Trial-Based FA Through Standardized Data-Analysis Techniques: An Exploratory Study
CASSANDRA STANDISH (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Kathryn Madesta Bailey (Vanderbilt University), Ipshita` Banerjee (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University), Bailey Copeland (Vanderbilt)
Abstract: The trial-based FA is a naturalistic, cost-effective, ecologically validated assessment used to identify the function(s) of problem behavior. Unlike the traditional FA, problem behavior may only occur once per test condition, thus making the trial-based FA potentially safer than the traditional FA. However, rate-based data cannot be collected during this assessment, rendering standard approaches to FA data analysis inappropriate. Thus, researchers simply consider occurrence/non-occurrence data, after those data have aggregated and plotted on bar graphs, to identify functional relations. As a result, the number of trials conducted during trial-based FA are typically determined a priori and the criteria for confirming functional relations is somewhat arbitrarily. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a systematic approach to data analysis appropriate for trial-based FAs by considering and adapting criteria established for standard FAs. Preliminary results are promising, suggesting the newly developed criteria can lead to abbreviated versions of the assessment that are efficient and accurate.



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