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Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies

Description: Escape maintained behavior in dogs is generally displayed by one of two behaviors-fleeing or aggression. Once aggression is negatively reinforced by the removal of the aversive stimulus, it is very difficult to eliminate from the organism's repertoire. Counterconditioning is the process of pairing a positive reinforcer with an aversive stimulus in the attempts that an organism will no longer exhibit fear responses in its presence. This process must be done gradually with small approximations. Many organisms have been trained to tolerate the presence of aversive stimuli via counterconditioning. However, this process can be time consuming and has inconsistent results. The purpose of this experiment was to monitor the effects of counter conditioning around an aversive stimulus while simultaneously training an identical behavior in the presence of a neutral stimulus. The results demonstrated that even though counterconditioning produced approach to the aversive stimulus the subject still exhibited numerous fear responses when results were compared to the control condition.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Kunkel, Rebecca Ann

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 Indices of Happiness during Teaching Interactions

Description: The measurement of happiness has received increasing attention in behavior analytic literature. Happiness in individuals with developmental disabilities has been assessed by 1) counting a specific behavior, or 2) sampling constellations of behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the two approaches while observing nine child and teacher dyads at an autism treatment center. Results showed that, overall, a constellation of behaviors can yield similar patterns when compared to a specific behavior count. However, the affect of one person did not predict the affect of the other and similar instructional conditions did not predict affect either. The implications of these results and future directions are discussed.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Anderson, Claire Therese

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

A Comparison of Picture to Word Training and Word to Word Training on Native English Speaking College Students’ Acquisition of Italian Vocabulary

Description: The current study assessed the effects of two teaching stimulus presentations, i.e. picture to word and word to word, used to teach second language vocabulary to college students. It also evaluated the emergence of untaught relations when picture to word and word to word were used separately as a teaching strategy. The findings showed picture to word training resulted in more untaught relations. Several aspects such time allotted for online quizzes, experimental and teaching arrangements and vocabulary complexity were suggested for future research.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Vo, Phuong Vi

A Comparison of Transfer of Stimulus Control Or Multiple Control on the Acquisition of Verbal Operants in Young Children with Autism: an Extension

Description: One language intervention approach for individuals with autism involves teaching one response topography under multiple sources of control and then establishing that response under individual controlling variable. Another approach involves establishing one response topography under singular control and then using that response to establish the response topography under different controlling variables. The study sought to extend previous research by investigating the impact of each approach on the acquisition of verbal responses. Three of the eight participants acquired all target responses for at least one response topography. The results of previous research were not replicated directly and the findings were discussed in terms of preexperimental verbal repertoires and restricted interests.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Pasat, Irina V.

A Comparison of Vocabulary Banks and Scripts on Native English-speaking Students’ Acquisition of Italian

Description: The study applied behavior analytic principles to foreign language instruction in a college classroom. Two study methods, vocabulary banks and scripts, were compared by assessing the effects on Italian language acquisition, retention, and generalization. Results indicate that students without prior exposure to Italian engaged in more exchanges and emitted more words in script tests compared to vocabulary bank tests. Participants with at least two classes in Italian prior to the study engaged in more exchanges and emitted more words during vocabulary bank tests. Data suggest that different teaching strategies may work for different learners. More research is needed to determine efficient teaching methods and how to ascertain which approaches work best for learners with different histories.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Dean, Brittany L.

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

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

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.

Dance: a Training Package Utilizing Videotaped Self-observation to Teach Parents to Enhance Social Interactions with Children At-risk for a Developmental Delay

Description: Previous research has demonstrated the effectiveness of programs that include a videotaped self-observation component. The self-observation protocols, however, have not been clearly specified within programs that teach and report parents’ use of general teaching strategies. The current study investigates the effects of a training package with a self-observation component to teach parents to improve teaching interactions with their children at-risk for a developmental delay using an AB design replicated across participants. Data were collected across play interactions to assess the number of parent teaching episodes, child target responses, and various parent and child relationship qualities. Relationship quality measures included parent and child affect and engagement, parent directives, parent confidence and stress, and parent and child interest. The results of this study suggest that the training package was effective in that parents engaged in higher rates of teaching, their children engaged in more desired responding, and certain aspects of the parent-child interaction were enhanced. These results are discussed in terms of the effects on the parent-child teaching interaction and implications for future use of parent self-observation techniques.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Townley-Cochran, Donna

A Descriptive Analysis of the Use and Effect of a Self-management Project in an Undergraduate Course in Behavior Analysis

Description: Undergraduate male and female students enrolled in an introductory behavior analysis course with minimal instruction on self-management were given modified exploratory logs to use in a self-management project. Students self-monitored behavior via the log, constructed their own interventions, and reported changes in behavior and extent of success in a write up at course end. Changes in self-reported descriptions in the logs as well as the written results of a pre and post survey of emotional responses were counted. Successful self-management project interventions were reported by most students. Correspondence between planned and actual events increased. Negative reinforcement procedures characterized most students' intervention. Correspondence between events at pre and post and actual log reports was highest at post.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Lamancusa, Michelle

Determining the Relation Between the Moments of Acquisition of Baseline Conditional Discriminations and the Emergence of Equivalence Relations

Description: The experiment was an attempt to gain a more precise understanding of the temporal relation between the development of analytic units and equivalence relations. Two prompting procedures were used during training to pinpoint when eight subjects learned the conditional discriminations. Near simultaneous presentation of probe and training trials allowed for examination of the temporal relation between conditional discrimination acquisition and derived performances on stimulus equivalence probes. The data show that, for seven of eight subjects, a decreased reliance on prompts was coincident with the development of equivalence-consistent choices on either all or some probe trials, which suggests that the development of analytic units is sufficient to give rise to equivalence relations among stimuli.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Swisher, Melissa J.

Development and Evaluation of a Large-scale Pyramidal Staff Training Program for Behavior Management

Description: Training and empirically evaluating caregivers’ implementation of behavior management skills is a particularly challenging task in large residential contexts. A pyramidal training approach provides an efficient and effective way to conduct large-scale competency-based behavior skills training. The purpose of this project was to develop and evaluate a large-scale pyramidal staff training program for behavior management skills. One hundred nine caregivers and 11 behavior service professionals at a large, residential care facility participated in this project. Interobserver agreement was utilized to develop and refine measurements systems to detect caregiver acquisition of skills, behavior service professionals’ ability to score caregiver performance and behavior service professionals’ ability to deliver a specified portion of the curriculum. Pre- and post-test probes were conducted utilizing standard role play scenarios and checklists to evaluate caregiver acquisition of three specific behavior management skills. The results supported the following conclusions: first, interobserver agreement measures were useful to develop a reliable measurement system, to refine some curriculum elements, and to evaluate measurement conducted by behavior service professionals. Second, behavior skills training (BST) resulted in caregiver acquisition of all three behavior management techniques. Third, the pyramidal training approach was effective to teach behavior service professionals to deliver BST and accurately measure the performances of trainees.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Shivers, Audrey H.

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

Does Family Quality of Life Change? Evaluation of a Group Parent-coaching Package

Description: Improving family quality of life is an important goal when working with families of children with autism. Researchers have attempted to measure changes by developing indices of quality such as affect, stress, and confidence. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a group parent-coaching program on measures aimed at addressing quality: a) parent confidence, stress and affect ratings; b) child affect ratings; c) the frequency of coordinated joint attention (CJA); and d) parent report of satisfaction and efficacy. Over the course of four weeks, the coaching program involved group presentations, discussions, video sharing, and problem solving, and individual in-vivo coaching sessions regarding specific child skill development. Results from the five parent-child dyads suggested increases in areas associated with quality of life. Results are discussed in the context of quality themes and mixed methods research.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Wiles, Amber Marie

Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program Evaluation: Child Progress

Description: This study reports and evaluates child outcome measures at a non-profit autism treatment program providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) based services to children age 3 to 8. To accomplish this, a review was conducted of available outcome data for a 1 year period. Several categories of outcome measures have been reported in the autism treatment literature (post-intervention educational placement, cognitive status, developmental and achievement status and/or progress, autism symptom reduction, and diagnostic reclassification). This study found that the program relied on 2 sources of data to evaluate child outcome: Hawaii Early Learning Profile® and program goal mastery. Children are making progress as indicated by these measures. The findings are discussed in relation to broader outcome recommendations.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Brunson, Lashanna Yvette

The Effect of High-Probability Request Sequences on Latency to Comply with Instructions to Transition in a Child With Severe Mental Retardation

Description: This study investigated the effect of implementing high-probability request sequences prior to the delivery of instructions to transition in a child with severe mental retardation. Data were collected on latency to comply with a low-probability request to transition and a modified version of the low-probability request. Implementation of high-probability request sequences resulted in shortened latencies to comply with the modified low-probability request instructing the child to engage in a preferred activity located at the endpoint of the transition.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Carpentieri, Michelle Lee

Effect of Resource Availability on Dyadic Fitness

Description: College students participating in dyads played a game designed as an analog of early hunters whose survival, as a dyad and ultimately individually, depend on rabbits they hunt. Dyadic fitness was defined as both participants being able to hunt and it was measured by the proportion of trials in a condition that both participants hunted. The effects of scarcity (alternating rich and poor conditions) on dyadic fitness were examined in two experiments. First experiment results did not show a difference in dyadic fitness as a function of the independent variable. The second experiment increased the number of hunting seasons and also the discrepancy between scarcity in rich and poor seasons. Second experiment results show that dyads start fit in rich seasons and become increasingly fit in poor seasons. External variables could not be ruled out; therefore, additional experiments still need to be carried out to clarify results.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Neves, Ana Barbara Vieira Sinay

The Effects of a Communication Training Workshop on the Verbal Behavior of Caregivers

Description: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a workshop designed to train adults to use supportive verbal behavior during distressful situations. Participants were trained to provide descriptive, empathetic and hopeful statements using instructions, rationales, modeling, role-play, feedback, and rehearsal. A pre-post design was used to analyze the effects of the training on verbal and non-verbal behaviors of four females during simulation scenarios. Results indicate all four participants provided maximum support statements above pre-training levels during post-training simulation and written assessments.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Blell, Zainab D.

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.

The Effects of a Group Parent-coaching Package on the Behavior of Children with Autism and Their Parents

Description: Support for parents is an important part of treatment programs for children diagnosed with autism. Parent training programs have generally focused on prescribed goals in one-on-one training settings with measures directly related to the goals. Of interest here are the few studies that included collaborative goals, expanded measures, and group training. Benefits of such approaches include the establishment of natural communities of reinforcement and better understanding of the breadth of effects. The purpose of this study was to determine if a group coaching approach would be effective in changing a large range of parent and child skills. This experiment involved group sessions (presentations, discussion, video sharing, and problem solving) and three individual in-vivo coaching sessions. The intervention took place over the course of four weeks. Direct measures included a parent skills checklist and child target behaviors. Results indicated an overall improvement on most measures that maintained or improved at follow-up.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Vaughn, Brittany M. L.

The Effects of a Human Trafficking Prevention Workshop Package on Participant Written and Simulation Responses

Description: This study evaluated the effects of a community workshop designed to teach community members about human trafficking prevention. Participants were trained to identify the critical and non-critical features of human trafficking and safe ways to respond to identified trafficking situations. A pre-post treatment design was used to assess the effects of a community workshop across written and verbal target behaviors. This included written responses as well as simulation assessments across five different trafficking scenarios. Results indicate that all participants engaged in more correct responding within the written assessment and asked specific relevant questions with greater confidence within the simulation assessment following training. However, social media and empathy responses following the workshop did not differ from baseline. This study is one of the first empirical studies aimed at formally evaluating the effects of human trafficking prevention workshops. Results are discussed in the context of instructional design, measurement of outcomes, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Sayles, Tiffany P.

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