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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #116
CE Offered: BACB
Innovations to Increase Efficiency of Skill Acquisition Programming
Saturday, May 28, 2022
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 254A
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Maria Clara Cordeiro (Marquette University)
Discussant: Tom Cariveau (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Maria Clara Cordeiro, M.A.
Abstract: The current symposium includes four investigations in which a range of skills were taught to learners with developmental delays that demonstrate technological advances in skill acquisition programming. The first presenter will show findings for participants who learned novel noun-verb combinations via graphical interchange format (GIF) images in a matrix training arrangement. The second presenter will present data demonstrating sight words taught in groups with less similarities (i.e., higher disparity) were acquired more efficiently, suggesting that discrimination with similar stimuli (i.e., low disparity) may be more challenging to acquire. The third presenter will present data for participants who acquired responses for both tact and auditory visual discriminations (AVCD) more efficiently when a mastery criterion was applied to individual targets rather than stimuli organized into sets. The final presenter will show participants acquired responses more efficiently under a constant mastery criterion and that responses under a descending mastery criterion maintained with higher accuracy. These findings demonstrate innovative refinements to skill acquisition programming to teach a variety of skills.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): efficiency, mastery criterion, matrix training, skill acquisition
Target Audience: Professionals and researchers in behavior analysis. Prerequisite skills include familiarity with skill acquisition programming for individuals with developmental delays and knowledge of behavioral principles.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to (1) describe how to use GIF’s to teach verb-noun combinations via matrix training; (2) describe at least one arrangement to promote more efficient teaching using behavior analytic instruction; (3) describe ways to arrange mastery criteria in skill acquisition programs.

Using Matrix Training With GIFs to Teach Noun-Verb Tacts to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

MARCUS DANIEL STRUM (University of North Texas), Haven Sierra Niland (University of North Texas), Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas ), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas), Marla Baltazar (University of North Texas), Ella Alvarez (University of North Texas), Araceli Luna (University of North Texas), Rachel Lai (University of North Texas)

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may require behavior-analytic instruction to acquire noun-verb tacts, and intervention may be efficient if the speaker can tact novel noun-verb combinations, which may be facilitated through matrix training. Matrix training involves teaching some combinations and assessing generalization. We arranged nouns and verbs in three matrices and included graphical interchange format (GIF) images. A GIF may be well-suited to teaching noun-verb tact combinations because the nonverbal stimulus is a dynamic image of a person or thing (i.e., a noun) engaging in a particular action (i.e., a verb). We used a multiple probe design across matrices and a constant prompt delay to teach noun-verb tacts to two children diagnosed with ASD during their center-based intervention services. Both participants could tact the nouns and verbs individually prior to the study and correct noun-verb tacts increased following training. Correct tacts of novel combinations increased in generalization probes. Following training with two matrices, one participant emitted correct noun-verb tacts without direct training. The results suggested that noun-verb tacts can be acquired with a matrix-training arrangement that included GIFs.


Efficiency of Teaching Sight Words in Similar Versus Dissimilar Sets

JENSEN CHOTTO (Louisiana State University), Erica Lozy (Louisiana State University), Rachel Marin (Louisiana State University), Jeanne M. Donaldson (Louisiana State University)

We compared the effects of creating sets of sight words with the same starting letter (3 words per set, 3 total sets) versus distributing words with the same starting letter across sets when assessing acquisition of the combined set (9 words) in five 4-to-6-year-old children using a combined adapted alternating treatments design and pre-posttest design. All participants mastered the 3-word sets in both teaching conditions but did not master the control sets. With the exception of one 9-word set for 1 participant, all participants required teaching of the 9-word sets as a set (interspersed teaching). The total number of sessions to mastery of the 9-word sets varied across participants: two participants required substantially more sessions in the similar condition, two participants required approximately the same number of sessions in both conditions, and one participant required more sessions in the dissimilar condition. For the two participants who required substantially more teaching sessions in the similar conditions, they not only responded incorrectly more often during teaching but also made errors that suggest behavior was controlled by the first letter of the word rather the whole word. These findings are consistent with stimulus disparity research demonstrating that discrimination training is generally less efficient when comparison stimuli are similar.

Comparison of Mastery Criterion Applied to Individual Targets and Stimulus Sets on Acquisition of Tacts and Listener Responses
MARIA CLARA CORDEIRO (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Andrea Jainga (Marquette University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Abigail Stoppleworth (Marquette University), Karly Zelinski (Marquette University)
Abstract: Mastery criterion can be applied to individual targets or stimuli organized in sets. Wong et al. (2021) found that participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learned to read sight words more rapidly when an individual target mastery criterion was applied. A follow-up study by Wong and Fienup (in press), replicated these findings with a more stringent mastery criterion. The current study sought to replicate and extend these findings across novel skills. In the first experiment, five children diagnosed with ASD participated in tact training. In Experiment 2, two participants with ASD were exposed to AVCD training. In both experiments, a mastery criterion applied to individual targets resulted in more rapid acquisition of both tact and AVCD targets. However, some false positives for mastery were observed in the individual target criterion condition during AVCD training. The current findings suggest a mastery criterion applied to individual targets produces more efficient tact and AVCD training, but false positives for mastery should be considered when selecting a criterion for service delivery. Maintenance was undifferentiated across conditions and experiments, replicating findings from Wong and Fienup.
The Effects of Constant and Changing Criterion-Level Frequencies on Skill Acquisition Outcomes
ANNA BUDD (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Daniel Mark Fienup (Teachers College, Columbia University), Sarah M. Richling (Auburn University)
Abstract: Higher levels of performance during skill acquisition predict higher levels of response maintenance, but less is known about how many observations of high levels of performance are needed to produce this effect of criterion levels. Across two experiments, we analyzed multiple criterion-level frequency values, or the number of observations of criterion-level performance during teaching. In Experiment 1, we taught children with disabilities target skills to 90% accuracy using constant criterion-level frequencies: one day versus three consecutive days. Across three participants and five comparisons, participants required fewer sessions to meet the terminal acquisition performance criterion when the frequency value was set to one and response maintenance outcomes were comparable between conditions. However, we observed a large drop in accuracy in the 1-Day condition when fading prompts. This was addressed in Experiment 2. In Experiment 2, we compared the constant criterion of one session to a descending criterion that required three consecutive days in the initial teaching phase followed by one day in subsequent phases. Additionally, Experiment 2 investigated if the constant (1-Day) and descending criterion had a varied effect on generalization, accuracy in responding when the prompt was faded. We were able to determine that the descending criterion condition mitigated the drop in accuracy when the prompt was faded. We replicated the 1-Day condition efficiency and effectiveness outcomes in Experiment 2. We did not find the 1-Day nor the Descending criterion to be effective in producing generalization.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh