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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #237
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Why are Teachers Doing This: Assessing Social Validity and Instructional Challenges
Sunday, May 30, 2021
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Theodore A. Hoch (George Mason University)
CE Instructor: Dorothy Xuan Zhang, Ph.D.

The separation between educational research and practice has been gaining a lot of interest in the field. To bridge these two areas requires collaboration between both parties (Vanderlinde & Braak, 2010), shared experiences (Montgomery & Smith, 2015), and intensified contacts in the process of the research (Huberman, 1990). In the field of special education, the need for highly qualified educators, teacher attrition, and workplaces/institution play the key roles to improve the transfer of knowledge for the education communities (McLeskey & Billingsley, 2012). Education researchers must carefully consider the challenges that teachers may encounter in their daily work so that the research questions and interests can go beyond the basic science and theoretical debates. Social validity leads researchers to consider the needs of practitioners while the follow-up application research facilitates the delivery of evidence-based practices. In this symposium, we will explore how researchers explore the social validity in the cultural context of the practitioners and clients while teachers’ dilemmas are embedded in research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): China ABA, Data Collection, Perspective Taking, Social Validity
Target Audience:

professionals with teaching experience in social skills and experience with data collection will benefit from attending this symposium.

Learning Objectives: 1. State the key dilemmas that teachers may be facing 2. Connect the applied research (perspective-taking and data collection) with teaching practice 3. Identify ways to assess social validity during research and practice
Diversity submission Assessing Social Validity in the Context of Culture
DOROTHY XUAN ZHANG (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology; George Mason University; ABA Professional Committee of China Association of Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (ABA-CARDP)

Social validity reflects the social significance of a behavioral investigation, which is a unique and vital component of a behavior intervention and research (Kazdin, 1977). It is essential for the survival of behavior analysis as a field and it connects closely with ethics (Baer & Schwartz, 1991). Wolf (1978) states that social validity reveals the social significance of treatment goals, acceptability of the treatment procedure, and outcomes of the treatment, which are often times, opinion based. Researchers and practitioners have provided recommendations about how to assess social validity (Carter, 2019), but how does this process look like in a specific cultural context such as autism treatment in China, where culture variables may influence consumer’s opinion regarding the social validity domains differently than other cultures? Based on the strategies suggested by Carter (2019) regarding assessing social validity, this presentation bring forward the challenges of assessing social validity domain with specific examples as well as recommendations for assessing the social validity of intervention in a given cultural context.

Diversity submission 

Nature is the Best: Teaching Virtual Perspective-Taking


Visual perspective taking is the ability to discriminate whether one can see an object. A prerequisite of visual perspective taking is to identify the object another person is seeing. Conventionally, visual perspective taking task may start with use of cards (e.g., present a card of a person who gazes toward different directions), followed by generalizing to real persons in natural environments. This study included three different visual perspective taking tasks: cards, real person, real person in natural context. Six children with ASD between age of 3.5 and 9 participated in this study. The initial probe revealed most children, though not having achieved the mastery level, had relatively better performance with real human. When further conducting the training, the results showed that children quickly learned to track visual perspective from a real person, either in a lab or a natural setting. While acquisition of visual perspective taking with real person helped generalization to natural context, it did not affect the task with cards. In addition, operation of cards presented a great challenge on three of six children. This finding may stimulate practitioners and researchers to rethink the sequence and the use of cards in teaching visual perspective taking.

Diversity submission 

Let It Be Three: Comparing All- and Three-Trial Data Collection Method


When making a decision about child progress, teachers who provide discrete trial teaching struggle with finding a proper balance between continuous recording (e.g., taking all trials data) and discontinuous recording (e.g., taking the first few trials data). Continuous data collection method provides comprehensive information, which leads to proper decision, yet it could be labor-intensive and potentially interrupt the natural flow of teacher-child interaction. Discontinuous data collection method allows the teachers to devote to instruction, yet it may lead to inadequate reference for student performance. Previous studies have examined the effects on child progress toward mastery and maintenance, which yields rather mixed results. This study reviewed the existing data across four children with ASD, eight different tasks, 174 sessions, and over 2000 trials. Given the mastery criterion of “80% accuracy for two consecutive days”, the results revealed a moderate match between all- and three-trial data collection method. It suggests the potential of using discontinuous data collection method.




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