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

Previous Page


Symposium #71
Procedural variations for teaching conditional discrimination
Saturday, May 23, 2015
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
218 (CC)
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)
Discussant: Einar T. Ingvarsson (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Making conditional discriminations is essential for effective communication, yet many individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities lack this skill. Each of the four presenters will discuss their research on procedural variations for teaching conditional discrimination. Jessica Simacek will present data on a study in which she taught two females with Rett syndrome, one using an eye-gaze device to make conditional discriminations. Second, Veronica Smith will present on teaching conditional discrimination of requests for assistance when faced with a task that could not be completed independently by an individual with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the third presentation, Laura Grow will discuss the effects of array size on conditional discrimination learning of individuals with ASD. Finally, Anna Pettursdottir will describe a study in which the effects of the order of stimulus presentation on learning conditional discrimination. Einar Ingvarsson will summarize and synthesize the findings of the four researchers in terms of implications for not only practice but also for translational research.
Keyword(s): conditional discrimination
Conditional-Discrimination through Mand-Training for Participants with Rett Syndrome
JESSICA J. SIMACEK (University of Minnesota), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota), Joe Reichle (University of Minnesota)
Abstract: Perhaps due to the severe motor and cognitive impairments associated with Rett syndrome, there is a lack of quality evidence on communication intervention with this population (Sigafoos et al., 2011). Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a promising method for individuals who are nonverbal and have impaired motor function to communicate; however, to expand communication beyond a single generalized mand, intervention procedures must teach the ability to conditionally discriminate between multiple mands. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a mand-training intervention package on the acquisition and accuracy of non-verbal mands for two learners with Rett syndrome. Results from both concurrent, multiple baseline designs across mands provided preliminary evidence of increased acquisition and accuracy of conditionally discriminated mands during intervention. These data are discussed in relation to response and stimulus prompting as methods to support conditional discrimination of communication skills, with particular implications for learners with severe and multiple disabilities.

Teaching Manding for Help as a Conditional Discrimination

VICTORIA SMITH (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Nicole M. Rodriguez (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Megan Ashley Levesque (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Jessica Niemeier (UNMC Munroe- Meyer Institute)

Ideally, mands for help should occur only (a) after the individual has attempted the task and (b) if that attempt was unsuccessful. Three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were taught this conditional discrimination under incapable and capable trials across multiple tasks. During incapable trials, materials were manipulated such that the child could not independently complete the response. During capable trials, materials were manipulated such that the child could independently complete the response. To prevent the mand for help from coming under faulty stimulus control, materials and instructions were matched across incapable and capable trials and teaching occurred under contrived motivating operations. Data were collected on attempts to complete the task and mands for help. During baseline, the percentage of trials with attempts was high across both capable and incapable trials but mands for help did not occur in either condition. During teaching for incapable trials, some undesirable generalization of the help response to capable trials occurred for two participants. Prolonged exposure to the teaching procedure was sufficient to establish correct responding under both conditions. These findings suggest, when training a help response, it is important to consider the antecedent conditions under which the response should occur.

The Effect of Array Size on Conditional Discrimination Learning in a Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
LAURA L. GROW (University of British Columbia), Rebecca Van Der Hijde (University of British Columbia)
Abstract: The study evaluated the impact of array size on the efficiency of conditional discrimination training. Ryan, a 6-year-old boy diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, participated in the study. A total of 36 auditory-visual stimulus pairs (i.e., country names and flags) were taught in the study. Twelve relations were taught in each of the experimental conditions (i.e., two-stimulus, three-stimulus, and four-stimulus array conditions). An adapted alternating treatments design was used to compare efficiency of learning when training sets consisted of two-, three-, and four-stimuli arrays. The results suggested that teaching conditional discriminations using an array of two stimuli might produce faulty stimulus control (e.g., side bias) and/or require more sessions to meet the mastery criterion. The results call into question the use of two-stimulus arrays during conditional discrimination training.
Order of Stimulus Presentation Influences Children’s Acquisition of Auditory-Visual Conditional Discriminations
ANNA I. PETURSDOTTIR (Texas Christian University), Gabriella Aguilar (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Auditory-visual conditional discriminations are often taught in match-to-sample format, such that the learner is presented with an auditory sample stimulus and several visual comparison stimuli. In the presence of each sample, the selection of a particular comparison is reinforced. In the applied literature, conflicting recommendations exist regarding the order of stimulus presentation in match-to-sample trials. The purpose of the present study was to compare acquisition of auditory-visual conditional discriminations under two conditions; when the sample was presented before the comparisons (sample-first) and when the comparisons were presented before the sample (comparison-first). Four typically developing kindergarten-age boys participated. The effects of the two conditions were compared in an adapted alternating-treatments design compared with a multiple-baseline design across stimulus sets. Stimuli, which included birds and flags, were presented on a computer screen. All participants met the mastery criterion first in the sample-first condition, but one participant required procedural modifications before acquisition was observed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh