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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Special Event #211
CHOICE: Session 1
Sunday, May 26, 2019
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD North
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
CE Instructor: Jeannie A. Golden, Ph.D.

CHOICE: Look Again


Choice is at its core one of the most relevant topics that our field has, does, and must continue to address. The study of choice has been relevant since the beginning - of everything. The concept cuts across nearly every line of research in the field; from philosophical issues to schedule work, from maze work to self-management, from choosing what tie to wear to choosing what program to implement, from behavioral economics to the behavior of the scientist. There lies choice, at every turn. How you respond to the statement: “making a choice” might well define you as a behavior analyst – or a mentalist. The short discussion will cover a brief history of choice research and how it has changed, and not, current directions, and potential future work. I hope you choose to attend while I have a lecture on choice!

RYAN SAIN (Northwest Autism Center)

I have been a behavior analyst since my mother sat me down in a mall in the 80s and told me to “just watch people”. I formalized that education with undergrad work at Eastern Washington University and graduate study under Thomas Armon Brigham at Washington State University. I focused on experimental evaluations of applied self-management programs, and of course, behavior analysis in general. I later worked internationally doing university development work across Africa and Afghanistan. It is there that I developed an appreciation for open educational resources. I hung up my soft money hat and returned to teach at my alma mater (i.e., EWU). Several years ago, after leaving academia, I joined the team at Northwest Autism Center and am currently the Operations Support Analyst - functionally doing OBM type work in an ABA setting. In my spare time (and that of my friend and colleague, Mr. Brad Bishop) we focus on bringing ABA to the world via YouTube. PsychCore was formed as a vehicle to bring change to how ABA is taught and disseminated. We have thousands of subscribers and ~700 videos covering specific issues related to ABA, EAB, and Behavior Analysis in general. Our success in teaching is not our own - we are students of Behavior Analysis first - and we seek to apply those principles at every level of our delivery of content. I currently reside in Spokane, Washington with my wife and four children, 2 dogs, a cat, and a bunch of fish.


CHOICE: Helping Academic Avoiders Choose to Do More Work: Why Escape-Based Interventions Might Not Be the Answer


Students who avoid academic work often have long and complicated histories that have established school-based tasks as aversive. Although problem behavior in the presence of academic tasks might be maintained by escape, interventions based on escape (e.g., allowing breaks contingent on work completion, escape extinction) may be counterproductive, even for those who are capable of undertaking the work. This presentation will discuss how the ways we approach interventions for work avoidance may affect students’ choices to attempt academic tasks, as well as how much work they do. Data collected from high school students will demonstrate how interventions designed to match the functions of work avoidance may negatively impact students’ choices about undertaking work, as well as their perceptions about the aversiveness of academic tasks. The presentation also will address the potential importance of incorporating choice into various aspects of intervention delivery for work avoiders, as well as how consideration of more remote reinforcement (and punishment) histories may be helpful in promoting students’ choices to engage with learning opportunities at school.

JENNIFER AUSTIN (University of South Wales)

Jennifer L. Austin, Ph.D., BCBA-D has been applying the science of behavior analysis to improve outcomes for children and their teachers for over 20 years. Both her research and clinical work focus on how behavior analytic assessment and intervention strategies can be applied with typically developing children, as well as examining what adaptations may be necessary for making our science “work” in mainstream classrooms. She has worked with numerous schools in the US and the UK, focusing primarily on those in disadvantaged communities. Dr. Austin received her PhD from the Florida State University and currently serves as Professor of Psychology and Head of Behavior Analysis at the University of South Wales. Prior to moving to the United Kingdom, Dr. Austin served as faculty at the University of South Florida, California State University, Fresno and the University of Houston, Clear Lake. She is the President of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis and a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list the general areas of choice research; (2) discuss the scientific study of choice; (3) see the application of choice research to many fields related to behavior analysis; (4) identify contingencies that may result in work avoidance at school; (5) discuss how some function-based interventions for work avoidance may produce undesired effects on students’ choices to attempt work; (6) identify intervention components that may be helpful in supporting students’ choices to undertake work.



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