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 #348
CE Offered: BACB
Crafting Competence and Staff Retention Through Behavioral Skills Training
Sunday, May 26, 2024
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon AB
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sudha Ramaswamy (Mercy College)
Discussant: Erik Jacobson (Upstate Caring Partners (NY))
CE Instructor: Amanda M Adams, Ph.D.

To ensure effectiveness, leaders of behavior analytic organizations must actively engage in the recruitment and retention and skill development of teachers, assistants and direct support professionals. This symposium concentrates on identifying effective strategies to attract and retain staff while facilitating their acquisition of the necessary knowledge and skills for optimal job performance. By shedding light on these issues, this research contributes to positive social change by offering insights leaders can leverage to formulate effective strategies for training. Such support can foster retention of crucial staff members, enabling them to deliver services accurately and efficiently such that it positively impacts the educational, vocational, social and emotional well-being of students and clients. Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is a dynamic and adaptable framework for fostering behavior change, and when the fundamental components of BST are systematically applied to target behaviors, it can lead to an effective and efficient learning process. The two papers presented within this symposium include a component analysis to examine the impact of fundamental elements of the model on task performance of direct support professionals, as well as a second paper examining the efficiency of the BST model in improving teacher soft skills and programmatic decision making.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will be able to identify strategies for increasing employee retention, teaching skills and employee management that employ the BST model. 2. Participants will be able to identify the benefits of feedback when applied as a stand alone training within BST to improve task performance
Facilitating the Development of Soft Skills and Decision-Making in School Staff via Behavioral Skills Training
ALAN KINSELLA (The Manhattan Childrens Center), Amy J. Davies Lackey (Manhattan Childrens Center)
Abstract: The human services field, especially within education, grapples with a significant challenge in staff turnover and retention, affecting treatment quality and organizational reputation (Shaun, 2021). While numerous approaches exist to address these issues, uninformed strategies run the risk of depleting available resources (such as time, effort, and money) and placing additional strain on the remaining workforce. Through a blend of quantitative and qualitative analyses, involving exit surveys, teacher meetings, and student program data, key variables were identified that influence staffing patterns. Performance management tactics and a behavioral skills training model was employed within a multiple baseline across participants design as well as pre and post training measures to determine the efficacy of behavioral skills training and tactics employed to change teacher behavior. Measures included making informed programming decisions, managing parent correspondence, giving/receiving feedback, fostering a positive work culture, and conducting productive team meetings. Results will be discussed with respect to the efficiency of the BST model in improving soft skills, classroom management and communication as well as improving the decision-making skills reflected in improvements in results of decision analysis data.

Component Analysis of Behavioral Skills Training With Direct Support Professionals

AMANDA M ADAMS (Anderson Center for Autism & Capella University), Bryan J. Blair (Capella University)

Direct support professionals (DSPs) often receive limited, low-quality training that can affect outcomes for those they support. These choices to provide low-quality training are related to limitations in funding, training resources, and high employee turnover rates. Further quantitative exploration of an efficient and effective method of BST training can support overcoming these deficits in training and resources. Using a nonconcurrent multiple baseline design across participants, I studied the individual and combined impacts of lecture presentation, clarification with task aids, modeling, and repetition until mastery (practice and feedback) on DSP task performance. Nine full-time DSPs who work across day and residential care for people with disabilities volunteered for training on instruction using the three-term contingency. The components varied, including a lecture, a job aid, a model, and a feedback session. No single component was sufficient to increase the accuracy of skill performance to the mastery criteria. All components had some effect on performance among participants. Rehearsal with feedback increased accuracy for all participants, regardless of the application in the intervention order. Exploration into the benefits of feedback as standalone training and BST component was necessary as this may be a critical feature missing in the current inadequate human services training models.




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