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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #402
CE Offered: BACB
Extending the Practical Utility of the Trial-based Functional Analysis: Assessment and Intervention Considerations and Applications
Monday, May 25, 2015
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
214A (CC)
Area: PRA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University)
Discussant: Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Joseph Michael Lambert, Ph.D.

Perhaps due to its adaptability in natural environments, trial-based functional analysis (FA) methodology has received some attention as a viable alternative when traditional FAs are not feasible. Despite a small but promising collection of published studies indicating that trial-based FAs can both be accurate and can inform effective function-based interventions, the generality of the assessment's utility, the training necessary to implement it with fidelity, and the optimal sequence of component experimental segments is still relatively unknown. In the first presentation the speaker describes a preliminary investigation evaluating the effect of an automated interactive training on pre-service behavior analysts' implementation of trial-based FA methodology. In the second presentation the speaker presents data on two procedural variations of trial-based FAs related to the sequencing of test and control segments and the dependent variable used. The speakers in the final two presentations describe studies outlining variations of the methodology appropriate for identifying the functions of a response topography (i.e., elopement) that presents unique challenges to a valid functional assessment.

Keyword(s): Elopement, Functional Analysis, Training, Trial-based

Effect of an Automated Training Presentation on Pre-Service Behavior Analysts' Implementation of Trial-Based Functional Analysis

Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Blair Lloyd (Vanderbilt University), Johanna Staubitz (Vanderbilt University), Emily Weaver (Vanderbilt University), CHELSEA JENNINGS (Vanderbilt University)

The trial-based functional analysis (FA) is a useful alternative to the traditional FA in contexts in which it is challenging to establish environmental control for extended periods of time. Previous researchers have demonstrated that others can be trained to conduct trial-based FAs with high procedural fidelity by providing a didactic presentation, small-group instruction, and then a performance evaluation. However, one barrier to replicating this training sequence is that didactic presentations are not standardized and presentations can vary considerably across different groups of trainers or researchers. We designed an automated didactic presentation with video models embedded throughout for trainers and researchers to use when training others to conduct trial-based FAs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of this presentation on participant fidelity to trial-based FA procedures. Results demonstrate improved fidelity following the presentation. However, the presentation alone was insufficient to establish consistently high levels of fidelity across all conditions for all participants. Thus, additional training components are required when teaching others to conduct trial-based FAs.

Trial-Based Functional Analysis: Procedural Variations and Data Interpretation
BLAIR LLOYD (Vanderbilt University), Emily Weaver (Vanderbilt University), Crystal Finley (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: The trial-based functional analysis (FA) is a practical variation of the standard FA with a small but growing evidence base (Rispoli et al., 2014). Since the original study describing the trial-based FA method (Sigafoos & Saggers, 1995), variations of the original procedures have been used among different research groups. Two of these variations relate to (a) the sequence of test and control segments within trials, and (b) the measurement of problem behavior within trials. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss how each of these variations may impact data interpretation. Two trial-based FA data sets allowing a comparison of each variation will be presented: one targeting physical aggression in a home setting for a child with Cri-du-chat syndrome and another targeting disruptive stereotypy in a reading clinic for an adolescent with autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, across both trial-based FAs, control segments were implemented both before and following test segments. In addition, problem behavior was measured using both occurrence/nonoccurrence and latency measures. Results highlight potential advantages and disadvantages of each procedural variation and directions for future research on trial-based FA methodology.
Correspondence Between Latency-Based and Trial-Based Functional Analysis of Elopement and Accompanying Intervention
CRYSTAL FINLEY (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Carmen Caruthers (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: The trial-based functional analysis (FA) is a practical alternative to traditional FA methodology because experimental trials can be embedded into normally scheduled daily activities in a client’s natural environment. Although research suggests that trial-based FAs can be accurate when assessing commonly studied topographies of problem behavior, no research has evaluated whether this methodology is appropriate for assessing response topographies such as elopement; which presents unique challenges to valid assessment outcomes. Thus, the purpose of Study 1 was to evaluate whether results from a trial-based FA of the elopement of an adolescent diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder would correspond to the results of a latency-based FA of the same behavior. The purpose of Study 2 was to evaluate the validity of Study 1 findings by incorporating trial-based FA outcomes into an effective function-based intervention (i.e., differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior) for the adolescent’s elopement. Results of this preliminary investigation suggest that trial-based FAs can be useful when assessing and treating elopement.
Trial-based Assessment and Treatment of Elopement and Flopping When Walking Near or Leaving a Playground
MELISSA BOWEN (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Trial-based functional analyses (FA) have been successful in determining the variables maintaining problem behavior (Bloom, Iwata, Fritz, Roscoe & Carreau, 2011; Lambert & Bloom, 2010) and the results have corresponded to traditional FAs (Larue, et. al., 2010). The current study utilized a trial-based FA to assess problem behavior when participants walked near and left a playground. During a pre-assessment, two 3-year old boys with autism eloped to access a playground. When we attempted to remove them from the playground, they flopped to the ground. We then conducted an analysis where trials alternated between the child being lead past a playground, the child being prompted to leave the playground following brief access, and a control trial where the child had free access to the playground. Results showed increased elopement we brought each child near the playground and elevated levels of flopping when we prompted him to leave the playground. For both participants, two functional communication responses were taught to functionally replace the child’s elopement and flopping. Elopement and flopping both reduced to zero levels in their respective test conditions. For one participant, treatment was successfully extended to teach the child to tolerate when the functional communication response would not be honored.



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