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

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Symposium #349
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Skill Acquisition Research
Sunday, May 29, 2022
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Aparna Naresh (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Discussant: Jeanne M. Donaldson (Louisiana State University)
CE Instructor: Jeanne M. Donaldson, Ph.D.

The acquisition of novel behavior is an important goal in Applied Behavior Analysis. In this symposium, researchers will present on different topics to illuminate how to improve skill acquisition, with a focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of intervention strategies. In the first talk, researchers compared fixed and repetitive models during an object imitation program. Two talks incorporate instructional feedback. In one, instructive feedback was incorporated to teach tacts and play behavior for children. In the other, instructive feedback and descriptive praise conditions were compared to a condition without differential outcomes. In the last talk, researchers compared acquisition criteria, applied to individual operants v. sets of operants, and their effects on acquisition and maintenance.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): instructional feedback, mastery criterion, object imitation, skill acquisition
Target Audience:

Graduate students and professions seeking to learn intermediate skill acquisition tactics

Learning Objectives: 1. Choose among different strategies to implement object imitation programming 2. Choose appropriate applications of instructional feedback 3. Apply acquisition criteria to promote acquisition and maintenance of skills

A Comparison of Fixed and Repetitive Models to Teach Object Imitation to Children With Autism

ELIZABETH J. PREAS (UNMC ), Mary Halbur (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Regina A. Carroll (University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute), Madison Judkins (University of Nebraska-Medical Center), Catalina Rey (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Mikayla Crawford (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)

Imitative behavior is a foundational skill that is critical to the development of a wide variety of behaviors. A well-established imitative repertoire can facilitate the acquisition of functional communication, social behaviors, and observational learning. Although early intensive behavioral intervention programs for young children with autism incorporate imitation training, learners with autism may exhibit difficulties in acquiring an imitative repertoire. Few studies have evaluated the types of models responsible for acquisition when teaching imitation to children with autism. However, a preliminary evaluation of teaching object imitation with fixed and repetitive model targets suggested that children with autism may acquire imitation more rapidly when taught with repetitive models (Deshais & Vollmer, 2019). The purpose of the current study was to extend and compare the rates of acquisition when teaching with repetitive and fixed models within a conditional discrimination arrangement using evidence-based teaching procedures. We compared the acquisition of targets taught with repetitive and fixed imitative models for three participants with autism. The current results suggest that fixed models resulted in rapid acquisition for one participant across sets; whereas, the fixed model was acquired more quickly in one set for the second participant. Results for additional participants will also be discussed.


Promoting Play Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Instructive Feedback via Telehealth

SOFIA MORTON (Caldwell University), Alexandra Marie Campanaro (May Institute), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Craig H. Domanski (DATA Group Central)

Play provides children learning opportunities in the natural environment to acquire communication skills. Due to deficits in social communication skills and increased rates of stereotypic behavior (i.e., non-contextual repetitive behavior), children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulties acquiring both functional and symbolic play skills. To further close the gap between the skill level of children with ASD and their typically developing peers, procedures need to be both effective and efficient. One way to increase efficiency of teaching is through the use of instructive feedback. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to systematically replicate and extend previous research by examining if play behaviors emerge when using IF to teach conceptually related primary (i.e., tacts) and secondary targets (i.e., play skills). We predict the results of the present study will demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of using instructive feedback to teach secondary targets consisting of play skills

An Evaluation of Antecedent-Specific Consequences in Early Intervention Procedures
DELANIE FETZNER (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Tom Cariveau (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Abstract: Children with developmental disabilities often exhibit slower rates of learning, which require highly individualized interventions to rapidly teach daily living and academic skills. Previous research on the differential outcomes effect (DOE) suggests that presenting a unique consequence stimulus matched to a target stimulus may produce more rapid acquisition of the target relation. Two skill acquisition procedures may be consistent with differential outcomes procedures, instructive feedback (IF) and descriptive praise (DP). The current study evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of antecedent-specific consequences in IF and DP procedures with 11 undergraduate students and one child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The IF and DP conditions were compared to a nondifferential (ND) outcomes condition and a no-treatment control condition. All of the treatment conditions were effective. Moreover, the differential outcomes arrangements (i.e., IF and DP conditions) required fewer sessions to mastery for five undergraduate participants and the child participant. These findings suggest that the use of IF and DP procedures may produce more rapid acquisition, although more nuanced measures of efficiency (e.g., per target measures) sometimes favored the ND condition over the differential outcomes conditions. Considerations for future research are discussed.
Units of Analysis in Acquisition-Performance Criteria for “Mastery”: A Systematic Replication
KRISTINA WONG (Columbia University), Daniel Mark Fienup (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: This study compared two units of analysis for assessing acquisition mastery during sight word instruction for three participants. The unit of analysis refers to the specific performances that criteria are applied to, either sets of stimuli or individual operants. In the Set Analysis condition, we applied the acquisition-performance criterion to the aggregated accuracy of a set of 4 target operants. In the Operant Analysis (OA) condition, we assessed the criterion for individual operants and replaced targets as they met the acquisition criterion. All participants acquired novel textual responses to sight words faster under the OA condition and response maintenance was similar between conditions. This study extended previous research by showing enhanced response maintenance in the OA condition by increasing the performance criterion from one replication of 100% accuracy to two. This study also suggests a unique contribution of OA to quickening learning.



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