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 #255
CE Offered: BACB
Interventions for Instruction Following and On-Task Behavior
Sunday, May 28, 2023
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Convention Center 405
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Milad Najafichaghabouri (Utah State University )
Discussant: Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Milad Najafichaghabouri, M.S.
Abstract: This symposium features four research presentations that will focus on interventions for and measurement of on-task behavior and instruction following across various settings. The first presentations will demonstrate the use of synchronous reinforcement to increase mask wearing in young children. The second presentation compares the effects of synchronous reinforcement to noncontingent reinforcement for increasing task engagement in school-aged children. The third presentation will evaluate strengthening of precursors to increase compliance with instruction in children with developmental disabilities. The final presentation will examine correspondence betwesen on-task behavior, work completion, and work accuracy under contingencies of reinforcement. Presenters will discuss clinical implications and future direction in each of the discussed areas.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): academic engagement, on-task behavior, precursor behavior, synchronous reinforcement
Target Audience: Intermediate. Attendees should have a general understanding of schedules of reinforcement.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the symposium, participants will be able to: (1) Define synchronous reinforcement and describe how to use synchronous reinforcement to increase mask wearing, and on-task behavior; (2) Discuss possible behavioral processes by which increasing precursors may result in improvement in compliance for some children; (3) Discuss how children’s academic engagement may be affected by different contingencies of reinforcement.
Using Synchronous Reinforcement to Increase Mask Wearing in Young Children: Maintenance and Generalization
STACHA LESLIE (University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Marissa E. Kamlowsky (The University of Kansas), Catherine McHugh (University of Kansas), Sara Camille Diaz de Villegas (University of Kansas), KY Clifton KANAMAN (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2021) recommended the use of masks, physical distancing, and handwashing for children ages 2 and older to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the current study, we replicated and extended McHugh et al. (2022) by evaluating the effect of synchronous schedules of reinforcement (SSR; Diaz de Villegas, 2020) for increasing mask wearing in six young children with or without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, we conducted a generalization evaluation and normative evaluation to (a) evaluate the degree to which SSR effects generalized to the classroom or program setting and (b) to compare participants’ all-day levels of mask wearing to children from two additional classrooms in which children were reportedly wearing their masks. Results indicated SSR was effective for increasing mask wearing for 30 min for five participants. For one participant, SSR plus desensitization training and response blocking was required to increase mask wearing for 30 min. Additionally, generalization was demonstrated for five participants across classroom or program settings. Finally, three participants displayed mask-wearing levels across their day similar to that of their same-aged peers.
A Comparison of Noncontingent and Synchronous Reinforcement Effects on Task Engagement
ELIZABETH HARDESTY (University of Kansas), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Jordan Hardee (University of Houston – Clear Lake)
Abstract: Synchronous schedules of reinforcement (SSR) are those in which the onset and offset of a reinforcer are synchronized with the onset and offset of behavior. Recently, synchronous reinforcement has been shown to increase on-task behavior of preschool children and mask wearing of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Diaz de Villegas et al., 2020; McHugh et al., 2022). The current study replicated and extended Diaz de Villegas et al. (2020) by comparing the effects of synchronous reinforcement and noncontingent reinforcement for on-task behavior of school-age children to determine the necessity of synchronizing reinforcement delivery. In addition, the experimenter conducted a concurrent-chains preference assessment to determine the preferred schedule of reinforcement. The experimenter conducted all sessions via telehealth and delivered the reinforcer remotely for all children. Results indicated that synchronous reinforcement was more effective than noncontingent reinforcement at increasing on-task behavior, but the children preferred noncontingent delivery. Secondary dependent variables measures showed responding under synchronous reinforcement produced more completed tasks compared to noncontingent reinforcement and baseline procedures.

An Evaluation of Strengthening Precursors to Increase Compliance With Instructions

JACQUELINE ROGALSKI (New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Elizabeth Prescott (The New England Center for Children and Western New England University), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)

Low compliance is a common childhood problem and has been shown to be correlated with poor social, academic, and behavioral outcomes later in life. One empirically validated method for increasing compliance in typically developing preschoolers is to teach individuals to emit precursors to compliance such as making eye contact and stopping competing activities in response to their name. These results suggest that training precursors is sufficient to increase compliance without direct intervention for compliance. The purpose of this study was to extend this line of research by evaluating a similar intervention with four individuals with developmental disabilities during discrete trial instruction. Additionally, the current study extended previous research by evaluating if treatment effects generalized to compliance with untrained instructions as well as to instructions delivered via a telehealth platform. Treatment components included prompting and reinforcement. For two participants, prompting and reinforcement of precursors was sufficient to increase compliance and the outcome generalized to compliance with untrained instructions. For the remaining two participants, prompting and reinforcement of compliance was necessary to increase their compliance with both the target task and a generalization task. IOA was sufficient for all participants. Implications for precursor behavior and compliance will be discussed.

Comparison of Product and Observational Measures of Academic Engagement Under Different Contingencies of Reinforcement
MILAD NAJAFICHAGHABOURI (Utah State University ), P. Raymond Joslyn (Utah State University), Emma Preston (Utah State University)
Abstract: Educational researchers frequently target and measure student on-task behavior in academic settings. On-task behavior is typically defined based on the topography of the behavior (i.e., what it looks like to be on task). However, few studies have assessed if students being on task corresponds with students completing more work or responding more accurately. The current study examined correspondence between on-task behavior, work completion, and work accuracy for six elementary and middle-school aged children across different contingencies of reinforcement in a clinical setting. Academic engagement was assessed for each participant under different conditions: baseline, on task, work completion, work accuracy, and noncontingent reinforcement. We observed varying degrees of correspondence between on-task behavior, work completion, and work accuracy for participants across conditions. All participants responded most accurately during the work accuracy condition. The condition with most completed problems and highest percentage of on-task behavior varied across participants. The results of this study suggest there may be induvial differences in children’s sensitivity to contingencies of reinforcement for academic engagement. Implication of the study and future direction are discussed.



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