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 #24
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Academic Instruction for Students With Developmental Disabilities in Public Schools: Three Large Scale Applications
Saturday, May 27, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center 405
Area: EDC/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Robert C. Pennington (University of North Carolina-Charlotte)
CE Instructor: Robert C. Pennington, Ph.D.

Federal mandates require that students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are provided access and make progress in the general education curriculum. Unfortunately, data suggest that academic instruction for this population of students is often inadequate. In this session, the presenters will describe three externally funded projects incorporating behavior analytic strategies to improve academic outcomes for students with IDD in the areas of literacy and engineering. The presenters will describe how behavior analytic practices were embedded within curricula, applied to teach variety of skills, and how educational professionals were trained and supported to implement the project packages. Finally, the presenters will discuss results from group and single case design studies evaluating the projects’ efficacy on academic skills and additional outcomes (e.g., inclusive opportunities, social skill development). They will present each projects’ findings, limitations, and implications regarding the design of behavior analytic curricula and programs aligned with academic standards for students with IDD.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (a) describe how to embed behavior analytic strategies during academic content instruction for students with IDD in public schools. (b) describe methods for improving engineering and literacy outcomes for students with IDD. (c) describe behavior analytic applications of technology to improve students academic outcomes.
Project Social Code: Using Behavior Analysis and Robots to Teach Engineering and Social Skills
CLAIRE DONEHOWER (Georgia State University), Robert C. Pennington (University of North Carolina-Charlotte), Sarah Grace Hansen (30306), Janet Sanchez Enriquez (The University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Chelsea Marelle (Georgia State University), Jessica Demarco (Georgia State University), Monique Pinczynski (University of North Carolina Charlotte), Brian Grace (University of Central Florida)
Abstract: One of the fastest growing areas of employment in the United States is computing. Unfortunately, computer science instruction has often not been made available to many students, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups. In this session, the presenters will describe a project funded by the U.S Department of Education involving the use of behavioral teaching technologies and robotics to teach coding and social skills to students with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. The presenters modified existing coding curricula to include embedded opportunities to explicitly teach both coding and social skills. The presenters will describe their teaching strategies, data collection tools, and present their findings across two years of implementation. They also will present social validity data captured from teacher focus groups. Finally, they will discuss implications for the scaling up behavioral teaching strategies in public schools through large scale projects.

Project Impact: Behavior Analytic Instruction for Promoting Reading Skills for Students With Intellectual Disability

SHAWNEE WAKEMAN (UNC Charlotte), Robert C. Pennington (University of North Carolina-Charlotte)

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities often have difficulty acquiring literacy skills sufficient to fully benefit from the myriad of potentially informative and reinforcing text available in the world around them. In this session, the presenters will describe a project funded by the U.S Department of Education to scale up the research-based literacy practices for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability. The presenters will describe their methods for training school-based personnel to implement behavioral teaching strategies during shared reading instruction in special and general education environments. The presenters will provide data from group and single case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of their package in classroom and virtual settings and discuss implications for the inclusion of students with complex needs within general education curricula and inclusive settings. The presenters also will discuss areas in need of future research.

A Systematic Approach to Engineering Instruction for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
BREE JIMENEZ (University of Texas at Arlington), Ginevra Courtade (University of Louisville)
Abstract: Although noteworthy growth in research on mathematics and science content instruction for students moderate/severe intellectual disability, and autism has occurred over the past two decades, research on engineering practices with this student population is significantly lacking. Engineering instruction provides a viable format for systematically planned math and science instruction, that naturally embeds opportunities to teach students skills promoting increased self-regulated learning. In this session, the presenters will describe a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) focused on teachers’ development of engineering instruction for students with IDD, including how teachers support their students’ development of engineering-focused behaviors and mindsets through systematic instruction. The presenters will share data across multiple mixed methods studies using (a) teacher interviews and focus groups; (b) evaluation of professional learning; (c) classroom observations and behavior coding; (d) fidelity of implementation of engineering curriculum; and (e) assessment of student engineering-focused behaviors and mindsets. Additionally, presenters will discuss insights from project research to further refine professional learning materials to better support teachers' ability to systematically support engineering focused behaviors of students with IDD.



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