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 #163
CE Offered: BACB — 
Supporting Behavior Analytic Practice With Decision Tools
Saturday, May 25, 2024
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon AB
Area: TBA/PCH; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Richard Colombo (University of Washington)
Discussant: Jennifer Lynn Hammond (The Arc of Alachua County)
CE Instructor: Richard Colombo, Ph.D.

Behavior analysts are forced to make countless decisions in practice. Given the variety of ways one can approach a problem, these decisions can sometimes be overwhelming for newer practitioners. Some decisions are practical, such as selecting an FA during an assessment. Some are ethical, like deciding whether to use a reversal design for severe behavior. Still others are related to social validity and the desires of the clients/stakeholders. Although behavior analysts are encouraged to seek support through continuing education, research, and collegial supervision, this may be lacking given the expansive growth of our field. One way of addressing this issue is with the use of decision tools; however, very few exist and even fewer are empirically validated. This symposium will present two practice tools to assist behavior analysts. The first tool provides guidance on the selection and creation of functional analysis. The second includes methods for considering logistical, ethical, and socially valid factors when selecting a single-case design in practice. Some data are presented for discussion.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Analytical Practice, Decision-making, Functional Analysis, Single-case Design
Target Audience:

This talk is set at the "intermediate" instruction level. Participants should have a graduate level understanding of single-case design and functional analysis.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Consider ethical and socially valid factors when selecting single-case designs in practice; (2) Select and adjust FA designs to suit the specifics of a case; (3) Use decision tools for FA and single-case design.
Functional Analysis Decision Tool
ANDREW PIERCE BLOWERS (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis), Benjamin Thomas Heimann (CABA), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: Per the Behavior Analyst Certification boards Ethics Code, the role of a behavior analyst is to improve treatment outcomes and minimize risks (BACB, 2020, p. 5). Commensurate with this, the FA methodology pioneered by Iwata et al. (1982/1994) has been described and adopted as the “gold standard” for the assessment and treatment of severe interfering behavior, especially in ABA (Sugai et al., 2000). Despite this, recent surveys have shown that the majority of practicing behavior analysts have never or almost never used an FA in practice (Oliver et al., 2015; Nell & Wallace, 2018; Roscoe et al., 2015), some have argued that the standard FA is too time consuming, requires highly trained staff, or is too complex. A large deal of research has systematically addressed a number of these barriers in an attempt to promote the inclusion of an FA as best practice, however, the sheer variety of variations and the subtle discriminations between them only increases the expertise required for their effective selection. This paper provides a brief overview of various functional analysis methodologies and a FA selection tool to empower clinicians to learn the methodologies that are most likely to be effective for each situation.
A Decision Tool for Single Case Design in Practice: Ethics, Social Validity, and Practical Considerations
RICHARD COLOMBO (University of Washington), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: One dimension of applied behavior analysis pertains to the use of analysis when evaluating the factors responsible for behavior change. Using single-case design is a practical solution to ensure behavior analytic practitioners are practicing analytically and ethically. Single-case designs are capable of ruling out confounding variables with a single individual who serves as their own control. Gaining this level of confidence in one’s treatment not only has the potential to improve clinical decision-making, but also build goodwill with stakeholders who, understandably, want to know if the intervention is working. However, behavior analysts may find it difficult to incorporate single-case designs while upholding all other logistical, ethical, and socially valid factors involved in a single case. Various textbooks attempt to guide practitioners in this regard but none known to the current authors have evaluated a decision tool. The purpose of this talk is to present data on the use of a decision tool for single-case designs in practice.



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