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Acceptability of Behavioral Interventions for Autism

Description: Caregivers' evaluation of evidence-based behavioral interventions may differ dependent upon the type of language used to describe the intervention. We administered a survey to 24 parents of children with autism to assess social validity measures of behavioral interventions described in one of three communication styles: technical, conversational, and conversational with intended outcome. Participants were presented with a description of two behavior-reduction and two behavior-acquisition interventions. Overall, interventions described in conversational with intended outcome style received the highest social validity ratings, while interventions described in the technical style received the lowest ratings. Moreover, behavior-acquisition interventions were rated significantly higher than behavior-reduction interventions when described in either conversational or conversational with intended outcome style. The current study supports the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's Compliance Code that behavior analysts should inform the client/consumer of the treatment/interventions in an understandable language. Findings are also discussed in terms of verbal communities.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Fatema, Afshaan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Creating a Verbal Community for Describing Emotional Responses within a Contingency Lens: The Effects of a Brief Training Workshop

Description: Observing emotional responses is recognized as a valuable clinical skill in a variety of professions, including applied behavior analysis. Emotional responses can flag possible contingencies thereby guiding a behavior analyst to better select valid measures, goals, and procedures. Additionally, emotional responses can be goals in and of themselves. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of a workshop on the observation and description of emotional responses by behavior analysts-in-training. The procedures included instructions, modeling, practice, discussion and feedback. The workshop included a blend of trainer presentation and interteaching strategies. The effects of the workshop were evaluated using a single-subject A-B design with multiple probe measures across four students. During probe assessments participants watched short video clips of family interactions and wrote a descriptive narrative in response to several questions. This created a permanent record for quantitative evaluation and analysis. The study resulted in an increase in the number of descriptions of emotional responses among all participants. The participants also increased responses tying the emotional response to external environmental events more often in the post-workshop assessment than the pre-workshop assessment. Results are discussed within the context of training applied behavior analysts, the analysis of verbal behavior, and the role of emotions in clinical practice.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Garden, Regan E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effects of Feedback Timing when Teaching a New Task to Children with Autism

Description: The purpose of this experiment was to investigate Tosti's proposal about the timing of feedback. The study examined whether it is better to correct immediately after the error occurs or whether it is better to wait until immediately before the next opportunity to respond. In addition, it aimed to determine whether corrections delivered at different times produced different learner affects. Four children with autism were taught to label two sets of pictures under the two different conditions. Results showed that the timing of the feedback yields similar results in regards to number of correct responses and total trial count. However, in regards to time spent in teaching and learner affect, correcting errors before the next opportunity to respond showed to be the more efficient procedure and produced more favorable affect.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Cochrane, Angela
Partner: UNT Libraries

Evaluation of Agreement among Respondents to Anecdotal Assessments and Correspondence between Anecdotal and Experimental Analysis Outcomes

Description: Study 1 evaluated agreement among five respondents using the Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST), the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF). Respondents provided ratings for 20 target behaviors exhibited by 10 individuals. At least 4/5 raters agreed on the primary maintaining variable in 80% of cases with the FAST, 70% of cases with the MAS, and 55% of cases with the QABF. Study 2 evaluated correspondence between results of anecdotal assessments and experimental functional analysis for 10 target behaviors selected from Study 1. Correspondence between the experimental functional analyses was 60% with the FAST and the MAS, 50% with the QABF.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Frusha, Caroline J.
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Evaluation of Correspondence between Preference and Performance under a Progressive Ration Schedule with College Students

Description: Preference assessments are used in clinical settings to identify stimuli with reinforcing potential. The progressive-ratio schedule has shown to be useful in clinical assessments in identifying stimuli with stronger reinforcer efficacy that corresponds to formalized assessments.The current study utilized a progressive-ratio schedule to compare videos of high and low preference assessed by verbal reports of preference with college students. Results indicated breakpoints were higher for high preferred videos than low preferred videos for three out of five participants, but preference was not indicative of performance.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Johnson, Jamarious
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Evaluation of Interactive Computer Training to Teach Discrete Trial and Naturalistic Instruction to Novice Therapists

Description: Effective and efficient training strategies are needed to provide training to novel therapists whom provide early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) services to young children with autism. We evaluated the effects of interactive computer-based training (ICT) on novice therapists' implementation of two, common EIBI instructional techniques: discrete-trial instruction (DTI) and naturalistic instruction. Results demonstrated that ICT improved trainees' instructional fidelity during role-plays with a confederate for DTI instruction and also with a child with autism for both DTI and naturalistic instruction. As a result, the requirement for supervisor feedback on performance was minimized. In addition, results suggest that child language improved as a result of improved therapist performance.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Nielsen, Olivia
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Evaluation of the Effects of Effort on Resistance to Change

Description: Behavioral momentum theory (BMT) has become a prominent method of studying the effects of reinforcement on operant behavior. BMT represents a departure from the Skinnerian tradition in that it identifies the strength of responding with its resistance to change. Like in many other operant research paradigms, however, responses are considered to be momentary phenomena and so little attention has been paid to non-rate dimensions of responding. The current study takes up the question of whether or not the degree of effort defining a discriminated operant class has any meaningful effect on its resistance to change. Using a force transducer, rats responded on a two-component multiple VI 60-s VI 60-s schedule where each component was correlated with a different force requirement. Resistance to change was tested through prefeeding and extinction. Proportional declines in response rate were equal across components during all disruption tests. Differentiated response classes remained intact throughout. The negative result suggests several future research directions.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Foss, Erica K
Partner: UNT Libraries

Increasing Number of Toys: A Case Study of Response Generalization across Novel Toys

Description: Children diagnosed with autism are often described as having limited or restricted activities that serve as reinforcers as compared to neurotypical peers. Many theories suggest that one of the many ways children develop is through participation in play. This results in children coming into contact with new environmental stimuli. The procedures used to enhance play skills for children diagnosed with autism typically involve training novel responses with novel stimuli (e.g., toys). This is often done using naturalistic procedures. Because multiple procedures are used, it is unclear what procedure or combination of procedures causes the increases in play repertoires. This study investigated an important component of the treatment package know as reciprocal imitation training. Specifically, the study examined whether increased opportunities, contingent imitation without the requirement to imitate, or contingent imitation with the requirement to imitate would increase the number of toys a child diagnosed with autism would play with. The results showed dramatic increases in the number of toys the child independently chose to play with and an increase in the spontaneous use of different response topographies across novel stimuli only when the student was required to imitate a model. The results are discussed in terms of mediated generalization, the use of common responses, stimulus class formation and stimulus class expansion.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Chaudhry, Mohsana
Partner: UNT Libraries

Teaching Water Safety Skills to Children with Autism Using Behavioral Skills Training

Description: Behavioral skills training (BST) and in situ training (IST) have been evaluated as methods to teach different safety skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. Research on BST has examined topics such as gun safety, abduction prevention, poison avoidance, and sexual abuse prevention. A large safety issue that is missing from the literature is drowning prevention and water safety skills. Drowning is one of the most prevalent issues facing facing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), particularly those who elope from their homes or caregivers. The current study aimed the effectiveness of using BST+IST to teach three water safety skills to three children with ASD. The intial form of intervention was BST with total task presentation of the skill, using verbal instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. If this intervention did not result in an increase in performance, the skill was broken down into individual component presentation, in which each component of the skill was taught using the same procedures. Results from the current study showed that BST+IST was effective in teaching all skills to all participants.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Tucker, Marilyse
Partner: UNT Libraries

Constructional Fear Treatment for Dogs in Shelters

Description: Of the approximately 3.9 million dogs that enter US animal shelters each year, many exhibit behaviors related to fear, which can affect their likelihood of adoption. Current dog training procedures to treat fear include counterconditioning and desensitization, which can often take months or years to show any behavior change and do not teach specific behaviors aimed to increase the dog's chance of being adopted. The current study used a negative reinforcement shaping procedure to teach fearful dogs to approach and and interact with people. The results showed that constructional fear treatment increased the amount of time the dog spent at the front of the kennel, and increased sniffing, tail wagging, and accepting petting for all 3 participants.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Katz, Morgan
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effects of Fluency-Based Instruction on the Identification of Component Reading Skills

Description: This study examined the effects of fluency-based instruction on the identification of six component-composite relations for early reading skills. Five participants (ages 5-8) who struggled with reading participated. A multiple probe design was used to assess the effects of frequency building on prerequisite skills on the emergence of composite reading skills. The results show that the prerequisite skills taught did not have an effect on the composite skill probes but did have an effect on the assessment scores. The data expand the research pertaining to Precision Teaching, fluency-based instruction, and component-composite relations. These data suggest that additional skills may be needed to be taught in order to effects on the composite skills. In addition, these authors identify the need for the identification of the component skills necessary to teach rapid autonomic naming.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Bandy, Darren
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effects of Naturalistic Language Interventions in Children with Autism

Description: Several evidence-based procedures based upon operant learning principles have been developed to teach language, and for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), naturalistic interventions are commonly implemented as they are both effective and developmentally appropriate. The current investigation compared contingent responsive intervention and combined intervention on the effects of language use in four children diagnosed with ASD. Results suggest that a combined intervention procedure increases target language and requests in children with simplified language (e.g., one-word phrase) as well as complex language (e.g., simple sentences).
Date: August 2016
Creator: Degner, Brittany
Partner: UNT Libraries

Evaluation of an Observation and Training System to Increase Play Skills in Young Children with Autism

Description: Play is considered to be important for the development of young children in that it provides a means to expand their interests, promote engagement and learning, and increase social interactions. Children with autism, however, display deficits in play skills, such as lack of pretend play and rigid or stereotyped manners of play. Research suggests supported play techniques, such as reciprocal imitation training, play expansions, and scaffolding increase play skills in children diagnosed with autism. The current study evaluated the effects of a training package to teach staff members supported play techniques to six young children diagnosed with autism. The study employed a concurrent multiple baseline design across two preschool classrooms. The results suggest that the training package successfully increased staff member use of the supported play techniques and child and staff engagement. The training, however, did not have consistent effects on child social engagement (proximity, attending, and initiating) or on the types of child play (simple manipulation, advanced manipulation, and pretend play). Staff member responses to the post-intervention satisfaction and feedback survey were positive and the results are discussed in the context of the observation procedures and directions for future studies.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Van Meter, Sarah M
Partner: UNT Libraries

Green To-Go: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Intervention Package on Restaurateurs' use of Styrofoam Take-Out Containers

Description: Restauranteurs' use of Styrofoam take-out containers was evaluated using an intervention package containing informational components, a written commitment, and an incentive system. A decrease in the use of Styrofoam take-out materials was observed with 4 of 6 restaurants. Across all participants, we observed a 15.7% increase in alternative containers and a 15.7% decrease in Styrofoam containers. Overall, a decreased use of Styrofoam take-out containers was observed with restaurateurs who were able to identify suitable alternative products.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Ho, Kelly
Partner: UNT Libraries

Post-Hoc Analysis of Challenging Behavior by Function: A Comparison of Multiple-Respondent Anecdotal Assessments, Functional Analyses, and Treatments

Description: The current study examines anecdotal assessment, functional analysis, and treatment outcomes from 44 participants. Agreement across Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS), Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF), and Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST) assessments, agreement between those anecdotal assessments and functional analyses, and agreement between those anecdotal assessments and treatment outcomes were analyzed across maintaining variables and topography categories of challenging behaviors. Overall, the QABF had the highest agreement results with functional analyses and treatment with 70% and 92% of cases respectively. Patterns in the distribution of maintaining variables was examined across behavior topography categories.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Dignan, Kathleen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Preschool Life Skills: A Systematic Replication with Children with Developmental Disabilities

Description: School readiness literature indicates that skills which lend themselves to readiness and success in primary school are not amongst the skills generally taught in center based care facilities. Furthermore, children enrolled in non- maternal care settings are at greater risk for developing problem behavior. To address this issue, the Preschool Life Skills (PLS) program was created as a preventative intervention to teach functional communication and social skills to typically developing children. Children diagnosed with developmental disabilities are not immune to these concerns and are also at risk for developing problem behaviors in non-maternal settings, due to insufficient instruction and contingency management. The current study aimed to evaluate and identify the dose of instruction necessary for the PLS curriculum to be a successful and efficient teaching tool for children with developmental disabilities. Twelve preschool life skills were taught to 9 participants across 4 instruction units. Instruction was provided by means of a three-tiered instructional approach, which incorporated class-wide instruction, followed by small group and individual instruction as necessary. Skills were sequentially introduced and unit probes were conducted following mastery of all 3 skills within a unit. Results indicated that the adaptations made to the original preschool life skills curriculum led to skill acquisition with all nine participants.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Lopez, Melinda Alysha
Partner: UNT Libraries

Superstitious Behavior Classroom Game Teaching

Description: Superstitions flourish in cultures around the word and in everyday life. Superstitions are so prevalent and influence personal and political decisions, therefore, we sought to develop a classroom demonstration of superstitious behavior that could be used to show quickly and effectively how powerful adventitious reinforcement could be in modifying behavior. An online game was developed and played by one hundred thirteen university students enrolled in a class on critical thinking. Participants gained points (reinforcement) arbitrarily during either 25% or 50% of each game's (A or B) 3 minute duration. Although points were non-contingent, students often engaged in superstations rules or patterns. Results of both self-reports and computer generated data showed, the games were successful in producing superstitious behavior patterns in about 50% of our participants. More students showed superstitious behavior in the 50% game than in the 25% game. We conclude that this is due to the higher reinforcement rate of in 50% game. For future studies, rearranging the stimulus array into a pattern that does not itself strongly control behavior could help refine the results.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Pourmorshed, Hormat Saadat
Partner: UNT Libraries

Using a Conditional Discrimination Training Procedure to Teach College Students to Play Music by Ear

Description: A conditional discrimination training procedure was used to establish stimulus-stimulus relations that might lead to the emergence of relations that define playing by ear. The participants were four college students. Overall, the results varied across participants. Of the 3 participants who received Training 1 (hear-note-name/select-key), all 3 participants acquired that relation. Out of those 3 participants, 2 participants showed emergence of the hear-see-key-pressed/say-note-name relation after Training 1. Of the 3 participants who received Training 2, (hear-note-name/select-tone), 2 participants acquired that relation for at least one set. Out of those 3 participants, 1 participant showed emergence of the hear-tone/say-note-name relation. One out of three participants was successful in correctly playing a sequence of four notes by ear at the end of the study. One participant did not complete the study due to availability conflicts. The overall results can suggest that the relations used in this study should be taken into account when training someone to play by ear. However, the current data do not allow us to conclude whether it is necessary to teach or test all of these relations in order to teach playing by ear.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Holder, Stephanie Shae
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Behaviorally Planned Community of Practice: A Description and Evaluation of one Area of Staff Development

Description: Staff training packages combining instructions, modeling, practice, and feedback have been shown to be effective in demonstrating skills to work in early intensive behavioral intervention, but maintenance and generalization of the skills trained are often not addressed. Establishing a community of practice, in which staff members continue to learn and develop new skill sets from one another through shared experiences and information, may lead to the endurance and maintenance of desired staff behavior over time. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effects of a behaviorally designed community of practice on staff use of socially embedded consequences. The effects of the training procedure were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline design across two sites (7 staff members). The results suggest that the behaviorally planned community of practice was effective in reinforcing and maintaining staff use of socially embedded consequences for at least 5 to 9 weeks. Additionally, the number of learning opportunities provided by the staff and social engagement between staff and child increased.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Ferguson, Julia L
Partner: UNT Libraries

Caffeine’s Effects on Pausing During Alternating Work Requirements

Description: There is a significant body of literature stating that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, yet its effects on operant behavior are little understood. Some of the current research on caffeine suggests that it may play a role in altering motivational states related to transitions between previous and upcoming work requirements. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of caffeine on postreinforcement pausing during transitions between small and large fixed ratio rudiments. Eight rats were exposed to five doses of caffeine and and a two-component multiple schedule. We found that caffeine does systematically alter the length of pausing during transitions between fixed ratio requirements, however the magnitude of the effect may be dependent on the baseline rate of responding.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Libman, Benjamin M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Clinical Case Study of Rumination and Emesis in an Adult Male with Intellectual Disability

Description: An evaluation of a series of interventions was conducted for an individual who engaged in life-threatening rumination and emesis. There is substantial research indicating that the delivery of peanut butter (Barton & Barton, 1985; Greene, Johnston, Rossi, Racal, Winston, & Barron, 1991) and/or chopped bread following meals (Thibadeau, Blew, Reedy, & Luiselli, 1999), chewing gum (Rhine & Tarbox, 2009), and satiation procedures (Dudley, Johnston, & Barnes, 2002; Lyons, Rue, Luiselli, & DiGennario, 2007; Rast, Johnston, Drum, & Conrin, 1981) can be effective treatments for rumination. In the current case, each of these interventions was found to be either ineffective or contraindicated based on the participant's fragile health status. Previous literature has shown that liquid delivery can affect rates of rumination in some clients (Barton & Barton, 1985,; Heering, Wilder, & Ladd, 2003). We examined how liquid affected the rate of rumination during and after meals. Based on the individual's medical condition, oral nutrition and fluids were discontinued indefinitely and a gastronomy-jejunostomy tube was used for nutrition. All rumination ceased when fluids and nutrition were delivered via the jejunostomy tube. Finally, a fluid analysis procedure was implemented in which the participant received small amounts of fluid while NPO. Color and flavor were manipulated systematically, and results suggested that flavor impacted the rate of rumination.
Date: May 2016
Creator: DeLapp, Christina Marie
Partner: UNT Libraries

Comparing Response Frequency and Response Effort in Reinforcer Assessments with Children with Autism

Description: Reinforcer assessments have largely relied on the use of progressive ratio (PR) schedules to identify stimuli that function as reinforcers. PR schedules evaluate the reinforcing efficacy of a stimulus by measuring the number of responses produced in order to access a stimulus as the number of required responses increases. The current evaluation extends the literature on reinforcer assessments by measuring responding under a progressive force (PF) schedule, in addition to progressive ratio requirements. We compared responding under PR and PF schedules with two children with autism using a multielement design embedded within a reversal experimental design. Results were mixed and implications for further development of reinforcer assessment methods (particularly PF schedules) are discussed.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Litvin, Melanie Ann
Partner: UNT Libraries

Correspondence between Multiple-Respondent Anecdotal Assessments and Functional Analysis: Analyses of Rank-Order, Magnitude-of-Difference, and Overall Outcomes

Description: We administered the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) and the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) to five raters and compared the results with functional analysis outcomes for 12 cases in which agreement was obtained for at least four out of five raters on either anecdotal assessment. The scores for functional categories on the MAS and QABF were ranked by averaging the scores for the raters who agreed on the primary maintaining variable. Functional analysis results were ranked by examining average responding across all conditions. A comparison showed correspondence between the highest category and the highest functional analysis condition for 10 out of 11 cases for the MAS and all 10 cases for the QABF. Correspondence for the category and condition ranked second was found for 2 out of 11 cases for the MAS and 2 out of 10 cases for the QABF. The magnitude of difference between categories on the MAS/QABF did not appear to predict the amount of difference in responding in the corresponding functional analyses.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Arnalds, Holmfridur Osk
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effects of a Parent Training Program that is Responsive to Current Repertoire and Affect

Description: Social deficits are one of the defining symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and affect a child’s ability to build relationships with others. These deficits put children with autism at a disadvantage when most of their world is focused on building connections with others – family, friendships, and community ties. Sunny Starts, a service-learning project, was created to specifically meet the needs of families with young toddlers with autism. The primary focus of Sunny Starts is to enhance the quality of the parent-child relationship by teaching parents a basic teaching interaction and to arrange the child’s environment in ways that are mutually reinforcing. The purpose of this experiment is to study the effects of the Sunny Starts DANCE training package, a responsive parent training program, on three levels of parent and child behaviors: 1) teaching episodes, 2) turn taking, social attending, vocal requests, and 3) synchronous engagement. Participants included two parent-child dyads. Parent training included 5-minute video assessments, video review, descriptions, rationales, modeling, practice, and feedback. The effects of the parent training were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline across participants. Results indicate parent teaching episodes and child behaviors (turn taking, social attending, and verbal requests) increased during the intervention phase. The duration of parent-child synchronous engagement maintained at high levels and slightly increased.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Ogorman, Meranda Mae
Partner: UNT Libraries