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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Competency-Based Training Package to Teach Behavior Management Skills to Direct Support Staff

Description: Cooper, Heron and Heward define maintenance as the extent to which a learner continues to perform a target behavior after the intervention has been terminated. Testing for maintenance allows the trainer to see if gains were sustained following the termination of a treatment program. In addition, once it is shown that a learner's skills have remained in the repertoire, assessment of generalization is possible. Previous literature in behavior skills training have assessed maintenance in a variety of settings for a variety of skills. Following maintenance assessments, booster sessions are commonly used to re-train skills that did not maintain at criterion levels. The current project assessed the maintenance of caregivers' skills following a training package used to teach three behavior management techniques (use reinforcement, pivot, protect-redirect) at a large, residential care facility. Procedures were developed to assess caregivers' maintenance of the three behavior management techniques using a pre-test- post-test design. If needed, skills were re-established using 5-20 minute booster sessions. The results showed that time between post-test and maintenance did not seem to have a strong effect on maintenance scores. In general, post-test scores were somewhat indicative of maintenance scores, and patterns were most apparent across tools.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Harris, Kellen-Jade Stanley

Interactions between Equivalence Classes and Analytic Units

Description: Sidman's (2000) theory of stimulus equivalence predicts an interaction between the development of analytic units and the development of equivalence relations. Previous research has documented these interactions (stewart, Barnes-Holmes, Roche, & Smeets, 2002; Vaidya & Brackney, 2014), therefore the current study attempted to replicate the effects seen in Vaidya & Brackney, 2014 (Experiment 2). Baseline conditional discriminations were trained for two sets of three, three-member classes, while participants simply observed stimuli in the third set which was arranged identical to those of Sets 1 and 2. Following equivalence tests where performance met the accuracy criterion of 85% for Sets 1 and 2, participants then entered a simple successive discrimination training phase where common responses were then trained with an equivalence class (pressing the Q key in the presence of A1, B1, or C1), cross equivalence classes (pressing the R key in the presence of A4, A5, or A6), or for stimuli where the participants had experience with them, but the contingencies were never arranged to facilitate equivalence class formation. Results showed a facilitative effect for common responses drawn from within equivalence classes (Set 1), and a retardation effect for common responses drawn from across equivalence classes (Set 2), for three of the five participants. Results for Set 3 showed an acquisition that fell intermediate to that of Sets 1 and 2, respectively, suggesting an interaction occurring between existing equivalence relations and the development of analytic units.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Stancato, Stefanie Sue

A Laboratory Human Operant Examination of Extinction Bursts

Description: The present study examined operant extinction in a controlled setting using a human operant paradigm. Participants watched a preferred video. During the video, either the video or audio portion of the video was selectively removed, on average every 15 s. Participants could restore the video by pressing a force transducer. In one group, relatively low forces were required (250 g) and in the other relatively high forces were required (750 g). At the 20th and 30th minute during the session, the video or audio was removed but the participants could not restore the component for 30 s. The results showed that responding during the probe increased relative to 30-s periods prior and following the probe, characteristic of an extinction burst. The results also showed that overall we saw increases in force under high force conditions during extinction when presses no longer produced sound or video, and force changed little during the low force conditions. We conclude that extinction bursts are a robust phenomenon that can be demonstrated in humans. Additionally, the topographies, i.e. force, established during baseline and the modality of the consequence appear to be two variables determining the short-term course of extinction.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Lilly, Bryanna R

Naturalistic Study of College Drinking

Description: The prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders is rapidly increasing among college students. The use of real time monitoring in conjunction with contingency management procedures to reduce alcohol consumption has only recently been developed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn more about natural patterns of alcohol consumption in college-aged adults. A second goal was to evaluate a novel, handheld technology for obtaining reliable samples over extended time periods. College students were given a SoberLinkTM SL2 breathalyzer for eight weeks to monitor their drinking behaviors and asked to self-report the number of drinks consumed each day. Participants received one to three text messages per day to provide breath samples and earned monetary rewards for submitting samples within the allotted time. The results of this study showed that college students tend to consume alcohol during the evening hours and mostly on the weekends. There was a weak to medium correlation between average breath alcohol concentration and conditional average drinks. Compliance with prompts ranged between 77 and 84 percent and monetary earnings ranged between $152 and $160. Naturalistic observations of college drinking may aid in the development of interventions to prevent excessive drinking and the SL2 breathalyzer may have great potential to be used in a number of therapeutic approaches.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Rueb, Skyler Nicole

A Sequential Analysis of Therapist and Child Social Behavior Following a Conditioned Reinforcement Procedure

Description: We conducted a contingency analysis to evaluate if a sequential relation between social initiations and positive social responses increased for both therapists and children with autism following a conditioned reinforcement procedure. Participants included child-therapist dyads, which were previously identified as having low rapport. These dyads were observed prior to and following an intervention designed to establish therapists' social behavior as a reinforcer. Sessions consisted of unstructured play between the therapist and child. Results from a Yule's Q analysis show that both the child and adult positive responding to the others' social initiations increased following the intervention. Findings highlight the reciprocal effects of therapist-child interactions as well as the effectiveness of establishing social attention as a reinforcer via an operant discrimination training procedure.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Cortez, Kristi Cathleen

Do contingency-conflicting elements drop out of equivalence classes? Re-testing Sidman's (2000) theory

Description: Sidman's (2000) theory of stimulus equivalence states that all positive elements in a reinforcement contingency enter an equivalence class. The theory also states that if an element from an equivalence class conflicts with a programmed reinforcement contingency, the conflicting element will drop out of the equivalence class. Minster et al. (2006) found evidence suggesting that a conflicting element does not drop out of an equivalence class. In an effort to explain maintained accuracy on programmed reinforcement contingencies, the authors seem to suggest that participants will behave in accordance with a particular partitioning of the equivalence class which continues to include the conflicting element. This hypothesis seems to explain their data well, but their particular procedures are not a good test of the notion of "dropping out" due to the pre-establishment of equivalence classes before the conflicting member entered the class. The current experiment first developed unpartitioned equivalence classes and only later exposed participants to reinforcement contingencies that conflicted with pre-established equivalence classes. The results are consistent with the notion that a partition developed such that the conflicting element had dropped out of certain subclasses of the original equivalence class. The notion of a partitioning of an equivalence class seems to provide a fuller description of the phenomenon Sidman (1994, 2000) described as "dropping out" of an equivalence class.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Silguero, Russell

The Effects of Programmed Reinforcment and Chained Mastery Criteria on Yoga Pose Performance in Two Young Children with Autism

Description: Community exercise can offer many benefits for children, including the opportunity to engage in physical activity and interact with peers in a social setting. Children with autism do not engage in as many community activities as their typical peers. This study examines conditions to teach young children to complete yoga poses to mastery. The effects of prompting, programmed reinforcers, and a chaining criteria were evaluated using a comparison design with two baselines and one intervention condition, replicated across two children with autism. Both children mastered performance of all four targeted yoga poses. The findings are discussed in the context of previous research on the benefits of yoga.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Nguyen, Linda

Examination of Sexual Differences in the Acute Effects of Haloperidolon Licking

Description: Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric condition affecting almost one percent of the US population. Typical antipsychotics (e.g., haloperidol) have been in use for several decades and are generally very effective in treating the emotional and cognitive effects of schizophrenia, but are used as the last line of treatment due to their severe extrapyramidal motor side effects under chronic exposure. The present study was conducted to investigate the role of sex in determining the oromotor side effects of typical antipsychotics via measuring different behavioral dimensions of male and female Sprague-Dawley rats licking sucrose after haloperidol treatment. The results showed a stronger sensitivity in female rats than male rats within total licking responses and inter-lick intervals. The present results suggest closer attention needs to be paid to the role that sexual hormones play in the motor slowing and behavior-reducing effects of antipsychotics.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Shoemaker, Danton L.

Effects of a Computer-based Self-instructional Training Package on Novice Instructors’ Implementation of Discrete Trial Instruction and a Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention

Description: Discrete trial instruction (DTI) and naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) are often incorporated into early intensive behavioral interventions for young children with autism. Recent advances in staff training methods have demonstrated that self-instructional manuals, video models, and computer-based training are effective and efficient ways to improve staff implementation of these teaching strategies however research in this area is limited. The current evaluation assessed the effects of a computer-based training package including self-instructional manuals with embedded video models on direct-care staff’s implementation of DTI and an NDBI. All participants’ DTI teaching fidelity increased during role-plays with an adult and with a child with autism and all participants increased teaching fidelity across untrained instructional programs. In addition, moderate improvement was demonstrated following NDBI training on the use of correct prompts, environmental arrangements, and response interaction. Together, these results indicate that therapists are able to acquire a large number of skills using two teaching techniques, DTI and NDBI, following brief computer-based training.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Horsch, Rachel M.