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 #324
CE Offered: BACB
Quality Indicators in Applied Behavior Analysis Training Programs
Sunday, May 30, 2021
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Erick M. Dubuque (University of Louisville)
Discussant: Michael Perone (West Virginia University)
CE Instructor: Erick M. Dubuque, Ph.D.

The number of colleges and universities offering applied behavior analytic training has grown rapidly over the last decade. However, despite this growth, it remains unclear how the profession should be evaluating the quality of training being offered to the next generation of scientist practitioners. Applied behavior analysis training programs have largely avoided pursuing traditional forms of quality control in the form of accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Instead, these programs have pursued the Verified Course Sequence (VCS) designation in an effort to attract students interested in meeting the coursework eligibility requirements to sit for a Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) examination. In this symposium, the presenters will suggest faculty scholarly contributions and BACB first-time pass rate data as potential quality indicators for training programs. Data collected on both indicators will be presented and the implications of these findings will be discussed. Suggestions for how potential applications to these training programs and the field should respond to these data will be shared.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): accreditation, quality indicators, training programs, VCS
Target Audience:

The target audiences for this presentation include (a) applicants to applied behavior analysis training programs; (b) faculty; (c) Verified Courses Sequence Coordinators; (d) the ABAI Accreditation Board; and (e) and anyone interested in quality controls in the field's training programs. Attendees should have a basic understanding of Verified Course Sequences (VCS).

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: (1) distinguish between VCS approval and ABAI accreditation for graduate programs in behavior analysis; (2) articulate at least two benefits and two limitations to the use of faculty research productivity as an indicator of behavior analysis graduate program quality; (3) identify at least three features that prospective students should consider when evaluating graduate programs in behavior analysis; (4) articulate why Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) first-time pass rates are relevant quality indicators for behavior analysis training programs hosting a Verified Course Sequences (VCS); (5) identify significant trends in first-time pass rates across VCS on the BACB Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification exams; and (6) describe actions behavior analysts could take to support quality training in applied behavior analysis training programs.

Casting a Wider Net: AnAnalysis of Scholarly Contributions of Behavior Analysis Graduate Program Faculty

CHRISTY A. ALLIGOOD (University of Florida and Disney's Animal Kingdom), Cynthia M. Anderson (May Institute), Heather M. McGee (Western Michigan University)

Abstract: As interest in careers in behavior analysis has grown, there has been a concomitant increase in the number of training programs providing coursework in behavior analysis. There is a growing need for indices of quality of these programs, with some authors recently suggesting that faculty research productivity might serve as one indicator of program quality. We continue this conversation, taking a broad view of faculty scholarly contributions by conducting a search of all articles authored by instructors in graduate-level Behavior Analyst Certification Board verified course sequences (VCSs) and published from 2000 to 2015 in peer-reviewed journals indexed by the PsycINFO database. The resulting list includes 8,906 publication records in 715 journals, authored by 1,232 instructors from 224 programs. Our analysis suggests that graduate-level VCS instructors have published in a broad array of journals and topic areas. We discuss implications of these data for prospective students’ evaluations of program quality and fit.

An Investigation of BACB Exam Pass Rates as a Quality Indicator of Applied Behavior Analysis Training Programs
ERICK M. DUBUQUE (University of Louisville), Ellie Kazemi (California State University, Northridge)
Abstract: We used first-time pass rates on the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® (BCaBA®) examinations across Verified Course Sequences (VCSs) as quality indicators to investigate differences between training programs. We analyzed publicly available data between 2013 to 2019 and found that more than a third of VCS trainees initially failed to pass the exam and less than 5% of all VCSs were responsible for the coursework completed by over 50% of the first-time candidates. Additionally, the overall first-time pass rates for trainees completing a BCBA VCS categorized as “Campus” or “Hybrid” was over ten percentage points higher than overall first-time pass rates for candidates completing coursework at VCS categorized as “Distance” or “Both.” Finally, the overall first-time pass rates for VCSs housed within an Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) accreditation degree programs were about ten percentage points higher than those not housed within an ABAI accredited program. We discuss the use of first-time pass rate data as a quality indicator and provide recommendations for addressing the issues raised by these findings.



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