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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #55
CE Offered: BACB
What's New in Staff Training? Exploring Podcasts, Enhanced Instructions, Self-Instruction, and Structured Observations
Saturday, May 25, 2024
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: OBM/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Setareh Dehghani-Moslemi (University of North Texas)
Discussant: David A. Wilder (Florida Institute of Technology)
CE Instructor: Setareh Dehghani-Moslemi, Ed.D.

With an increasing need for competent behavior technicians, effective and efficient training procedures—especially those that reduce face to face time with behavior analysts—are needed. This symposium includes four studies which explore different staff-training variants that evaluate the components necessary for behavior-change agents to implement procedures with fidelity. First, Dehghani-Moslemi et al. will discuss an exploratory study that used a podcast to teach novice therapists to implement positive reinforcement with a confederate. Next, Nelson et al. will describe the effects of enhanced instructions on undergraduate students’ implementation of several behavioral procedures. Then, Leslie et al. will present the results of a study that evaluated the efficacy of a self-instruction package on staff members’ implementation of several techniques. Finally, Quintero-Giegeling et al. will speak on the results of the effects of incorporating structured observation following instruction on undergraduate students’ implementation of discrete-trial instruction. Suggestions for future research and implications will be included.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): BST, podcast, staff training
Target Audience:

Graduate students, BCaBAs, BCBAs, BCBA-Ds

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list and describe the different components of behavioral skills training; (2) describe the effects of using self-instructions in staff training (3) describe structured observation in staff training and its effect when using it to teach discrete-trial instruction.
Can a Podcast Teach Novice Therapists to Implement Positive Reinforcement?
SETAREH DEHGHANI-MOSLEMI (University of North Texas), Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas ), Susan Marie Nichols (University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center), Ray Lai (University of North Texas), Natalee Foster (University of North Texas; UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center), Julia Wang (Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Behavioral Skills Training (instructions, modeling, role play, and performance feedback) is an effective method to train novice therapists to implement behavioral procedures with fidelity, but it can be resource intensive for providers. In the current study, we developed a 100-min podcast on positive reinforcement and evaluated whether six novice therapists would implement positive reinforcement with higher fidelity during sessions with a confederate. If a participant did not meet the mastery criteria after the podcast, we added a video model and performance feedback. We also assessed whether scores on a multiple-choice quiz improved after listening to the podcast. We used an A-B design with three target behaviors per participant. After listening to the podcast, five of the six participants achieved mastery-level fidelity with at least one of the target behaviors. The remaining participant required both video models and performance feedback to reach mastery. All six participants scored higher on the quiz after the podcast. These results suggests that a podcast could be an efficacious method to train novice therapists to implement behavioral procedures. In the future, the study needs to be extended to other procedures; tested with clients; and compared to other training methods for efficacy, efficiency, and social validity.

An Evaluation of the Instructional Component of Behavioral Skills Training

JASMYNE NELSON (University of Florida), Savannah Tate (Kennedy Krieger Institute), christy Louis (Georgia State University), Catherine Kishel (Rutgers University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

Behavior skills training is a well-established procedure to teach individuals a variety of skills related to the practice of behavior analysis. It involves instructions, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. Researchers have evaluated the effects of various modeling, rehearsal, and feedback techniques on performance. However, few have studied the effects of enhancing instructions on performance. We evaluated the effects of incremental changes in instructional components for teaching functional communication training, differential reinforcement of other behavior, and momentary differential reinforcement of other behavior protocols for 14 undergraduate students enrolled in a laboratory methods course. We also evaluated generalization of protocols targeted later in the sequence of the study and probed in-situ performance for three participants. Of the 42 opportunities to learn a protocol, participants mastered eight protocols during the guided review phase, four during the fidelity checklist phase, four during the model phase, and four during the feedback phase. Participants generalized eight protocols during the guided review phase, five during the fidelity checklist phase, eight in the model phase, and one in the feedback phase. Implications of these results are promising and indicate further research on the instructions component of behavior skills training should be conducted.

Evaluation of a Self-Instruction Package for Training Important Interventionist Skills: Acquisition and Generalization
STACHA LESLIE (University of Kansas), Brittany Mitchelson (Beyond the Individual ), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Sara Camille Diaz de Villegas (University of Kansas & Juniper Gardens Children’s Project)
Abstract: Behavioral skills training (BST; Parsons et al., 2012) is a common intervention for staff training; however, the procedure can be labor intensive, costly, and require extensive involvement from an experienced trainer (DiGennaro Reed & Henley, 2015). Recently, researchers have evaluated enhanced written instructions (EWI; i.e., step by step instructions, written with minimal technical jargon, may include pictures or diagrams; Shapiro et al., 2016) as a more efficient method to train staff to engage in various important clinical skills (e.g., discrete trial teaching). The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of EWI for training novice behavior interventionist skills (i.e., preference assessments, discrete trial teaching, and rapport building) to five undergraduate students with limited clinical experience. Additionally, we attempted to replicate results with multiple exemplars within subjects and assess generalization of skills. Results showed EWI was effective for acquisition and generalization for some skills across participants; however, modified EWI was necessary for acquisition, generalization, or both for other skills.
The Effect of Structured Observation on Training Discrete Trial Instruction Skills
ANNA MARIE QUINTERO-GIEGELING (University of Florida ), Ciobha A. McKeown (California State University, Sacramento), Malchijah Williams (Florida Autism Center), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: The rapid growth in the number of behavior analysts and aspiring behavior analyst creates an imperative for effective and efficient training methodology. This is particularly important when training frontline staff, as satisfaction with training can be predicative of registered behavior technician (RBT) turnover (Kazemi et al., 2015). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of structured observation during the modeling phase of behavioral skills training in teaching undergraduate students discrete trial instruction (DTI) skills (i.e., matching, imitation, listener responding). Loosely based on procedures by Romer et al. (2021), after evaluating performance with written instruction alone, participants took procedural fidelity data of a competent RBT implementing the protocol using a structured data sheet before their performance was retested. Using a multiple baseline design across DTI skills, we observed mastery-level performance after the structured observation alone. Furthermore, generalization was observed across DTI skills for multiple participants. Very few participants required feedback to achieve mastery-level performance, which suggests that the inclusion of structured observation can greatly enhance the efficacy of current RBT training curricula. We will discuss clinical implications of our findings and provide suggestions for future research.



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