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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #88
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Navigating Barriers to Large-Scale Change: Work, Clinical Applications, Education, and Climate
Saturday, May 27, 2023
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3C
Area: CSS/PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
Discussant: Thomas S. Critchfield (Illinois State University)
CE Instructor: Thomas S. Critchfield, Ed.D.

Successful behavior change interventions often fail to scale, limiting their impact. Analysis of the contingencies surrounding large-scale change is frequently required; indeed, the entire field of implementation science focuses on this challenge. Established empirical methods reminiscent of functional analysis - sometimes called "barriers analysis” or “determinants analysis” - identify potential barriers to adoption, and suggest ways to surmount them. A nonlinear analysis of the contingencies and meta-contingencies enhances this exercise. In this symposium, we use a comparative approach to deconstruct attempts to scale up interventions in organizations, large-n autism service delivery, K-12 education, and environmental sustainability. Interdisciplinary insights will add to the lessons learned. Developing a successful intervention is only the first step in an implementation process leading to meaningful large-scale change. And as prominently illustrated the case of climate change, we are rapidly running out of time to scale up.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): climate, education, metacontingencies, systems
Target Audience:

Intermediate: understand contingency analysis, meta-contingences

Learning Objectives: ...describe ways that histories of reinforcement influence interlocking behavioral contingencies (such as in cultural practices) ...identify experimental designs that could help increase the potential of behavior analysis in large groups in autism services ...analyze the contingencies surrounding large-scale applications of behavior analysis to education ...summarize the advantages of an interdisciplinary approach toward addressing the climate crisis.
Diversity submission Behavior Analytic Account of Cultural Change in Organizations and Beyond
RAMONA HOUMANFAR (University of Nevada, Reno), Alison Szarko (University of Nevada, Reno), Mark P. Alavosius (Praxis2LLC)
Abstract: The behavioral sciences are challenged to conduct the extensive and difficult analyses needed to pinpoint the variables that will bring about massive, yet crucial, changes in individual behaviors and organizational actions. These challenges may exceed the skill set and resources of these scientific communities especially when the focus is on individuals’ behaviors. The ideals, perseverance, and success in solving the socio-cultural problems addressed by behavior change suggest that behavior analysis is poised to scale behavioral sciences to address what may ultimately prove to be the biggest challenges that humans have ever faced. This presentation provides an overview of the elaborated account of metacontingency with the primary focus on ways this perspective offers points of entry to alter contextual factors that inform large-scale applications in organizations (public & private sectors) and at large. We discuss the multi- layered ways leader’s communication and groups members’ histories of reinforcement influence the observed patterns of interlocking behavioral contingencies, aggregate product, and the behavior topographies of consumers (i.e., cultural practices).
Diversity submission Challenges and Opportunities of Large-n Behavior-Analytic Research in Applied Settings
JAVIER VIRUES ORTEGA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Abstract: Applied behavior-analytic (ABA) interventions have traditionally relied on frequent samples of discrete behavior units compounded with unstandardized social validity measures as the sole basis of treatment evaluation. While this approach has served the field well for decades, it has faced fierce opposition from non-behavioral scientists who often rely on group-based studies and standardized outcomes as their lingua franca. This insidious conflict questions the very nature of scientific evidence and alienates behavior analysis from mainstream applied sciences. We will analyze common barriers to large-N research designs in ABA along with potential alternatives that may be compatible to both the single-subject and the nomothetic experimental traditions. The presenter will discuss two recent behavioral education studies as proof of concept illustrating experimental designs that could help to bridge the ideographic-epidemiological gap in ABA research: a mixed multiple-baseline randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, and a multi-arm RCT component analysis. These studies underline the potential of behavior analysis for the modification of socially important behavior in large groups in autism services and beyond.
Diversity submission Hiding in Plain Sight: The Impact of Behavior Analysis in Education
JANET S. TWYMAN (blast: a learning sciences company)
Abstract: Applied behavior analysis has had a substantial, yet largely unrecognized, impact on educational practice. Behavior analysts have had a role in delivering effective, efficient instruction since Skinner’s development of the teaching machine in the 1950’s. Major contributions in behavioral education—such as Skinner’s technology of teaching, Keller’s personalized systems of instruction, Markle’s instructional design and concept formation, Lindsley’s precision teaching, Heward’s active student responding, Johnson and Layng’s generative instruction, Horner and Sugai's school-wide positive behavior supports —have provided a foundation for meaningful, system-wide change in teaching and learning. Yet behavior analysts continue to lament the absence of widespread acceptance, often asking "Why hasn't behavior analysis played a larger role in education?" Perhaps our collective lamenting is misplaced. Perhaps behavior analysis is more pervasive in schools than we recognize. This presentation will consider how the analysis of a network of contingencies--not just of education systems but of our own approaches--might help us to recognize existing applications of behavior analysis in education and help spread their acceptance and use.
Diversity submission Overcoming Barriers to Climate Action
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: One of the challenges of the climate crisis is the epic range of behavior changes needed. On the community level, school districts, businesses, neighborhoods, health care systems, and local governments all need to move faster toward sustainable practices. Scaling up existing successful projects is a way to get large-scale behavior change quickly. An essential element in that process - indeed, for any project - is an analysis of the barriers to change at the different levels (somewhat akin to functional analysis). Longstanding methods to do so exist, originally designed for public health applications, and now routinely used in the mainstream sustainability community. This presentation will explore these methods and their connections to behavior analysis, and provide examples that can serve as models for our own efforts toward addressing the climate crisis.



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