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 #345
CE Offered: BACB
Exploring Pyramidal Behavioral Skills Training: Efficacy, Application, and Procedural Integrity Across Settings
Sunday, May 26, 2024
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 114
Area: OBM/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Karl Fannar Gunnarsson (University of Iceland /The National University Hospital of Iceland)
CE Instructor: Karl Fannar Gunnarsson, Ph.D.

The symposium includes a series of three studies where functional communication training and delay tolerance models were taught to staff members using variations of behavior skills training and pyramidal training. The principal study used BST to train staff in providing a variation of Hanley´s (2012) FCT program within a school setting, looking at skill generalization to a student learner. The second study was a replication and extension of the first where it explored adding three levels of a pyramidal model to the BST within a special school environment, highlighting its adaptability and effectiveness in teaching functional communication and delay tolerance. The third study was a replication and extension of the second, adding levels to the pyramidal approach and focusing further on the procedural integrity of Functional Communication Training when implemented within the pyramidal framework in a supported home facility. This series of studies outlines the importance of maintaining procedural fidelity while also demonstrating the effectiveness of the pyramidal model when combined with BST.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Behavior-Skills-Training, Functional-communication-training, Procedural Integrity, Pyramidal Training
Target Audience:

Current RBT, BCaBA, BCBA or BCBA-D certificates. Knowledge of Functional Communication Training and staff training in a clinical environment.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify the key components of pyramidal behavioral skills training; (2) Identify ways to assess the accuracy of staff training methods in varied settings; (3) Describe the peer-to-peer training process and its benefits in staff training scenarios.

"Can I Have My Way Please?“: Training University Students to Implement Delay Tolerance and Functional Communication to Children With Developmental Disabilities

BÁRA DENNÝ ÍVARSDÓTTIR (Landspítali - The National University Hospital, Iceland), Karl Fannar Gunnarsson (University of Iceland /The National University Hospital of Iceland), Anna-Lind Petursdottir (University of Iceland)

Behavioral skills training (BST) is a validated method used widely to instruct caregivers and others in skills grounded in applied behavior analysis. This study employed BST in role-play to teach three female university students, aged 24-26, a six-step functional communication training, and subsequently assessed its transference to teaching an autistic student in a specialized classroom. Two students were pursuing a master's in applied behavioral analysis at the University of Iceland, with backgrounds in psychology and 1-4 years' experience with disabled individuals. The third held a BA in social education, was enrolled in an additional program, and had seven years of experience in the field. Using a multiple baseline probe design, the research gauged the effect of BST on the students' competency in communication training. Results indicated a significant increase in correct step implementation, averaging from 7.4% to 98%. In real-world scenarios, this accuracy reached 99%. The findings emphasize BST's efficacy in imparting communication techniques both in simulated and actual settings. Participant feedback further attested to the training's strong social relevance.


"Train the Trainer": How Does Knowledge and Skills Transfer Within a Pyramidal Training Model?

FELIX HOGNASON (University of Iceland / Reykjavik University), Azra Crnac (University of Iceland )

This study examined the efficacy of using pyramidal behavioral skills training for teaching staff skill-based functional communication. Three central queries were addressed: the consistency of training implementation across pyramid tiers, maintenance of trained skills among participants, and participants' capability to apply skills with a child post-training. Six staff and interns from a special school participated, along with a student undergoing functional communication training. Participants were educated using the pyramidal behavioral skills methodology. A synchronized multiple baseline probe design was employed. Training for each subsequent participant commenced only after the prior one completed their training. The researcher initiated by instructing two participants, who then taught their peers. On average, training accuracy reached 93% across all participants. Their performance in executing functional communication skills averaged at 98%, while real-life application with a student was observed to be 96% accurate. The outcomes advocate for the pyramidal approach as an economically sound method for staff training in evidence-based techniques, especially in settings requiring distributed responsibility and enhanced training efficiency for new personnel.

Combining Behavior Skills Training and Pyramidal Training; Evaluating Procedural Integrity of Functional Communication Training
ARNDÍS BJÖRG ÓLAFSDÓTTIR (Reykjavik University), Karl Fannar Gunnarsson (University of Iceland /The National University Hospital of Iceland), Berglind Sveinbjornsdottir (Reykjavik University)
Abstract: Traditional staff training, which often emphasizes written and verbal directives without specific criteria, can be suboptimal for teaching crucial clinical skills. This study aimed to evaluate the precision of Functional Communication Training (FCT) using multi-tiered pyramidal Behavior Skills Training (BST) and the procedural fidelity of non-expert trainers. Eight support staff participated. A multiple probe design gauged the relationship between pyramidal BST and FCT accuracy. Results revealed that pyramidal BST effectively taught staff to implement FCT, with accuracy surging from an initial average of 0.6% to 99% post-training. Procedural fidelity of BST remained commendable at 84.2%. However, a decline in FCT accuracy was observed during follow-up with a hypothetical example post-training, averaging 54.3% for six staff who subsequently trained another participant. Notably, their accuracy improved to an average of 74.2% after training peers. The two participants who didn't train others showed post-training accuracies of 45.2% and 67.7%. This research underscores the efficacy of pyramidal BST for training support service staff and accentuates the advantages of peer-to-peer training.



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