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Teaching Behavior Professionals to Use the Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis (IISCA): A Preliminary Investigation

Description: We assessed the implementation accuracy and fidelity of two board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) using the open-ended interview from Hanley. Participants interviewed a confederate using the open-ended interview, and were then asked to use information gathered from the interview to create operational definitions of target behaviors as well as test and control condition procedures for a subsequent matched test-control functional analysis as is characteristic of the interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA) strategy. Brief behavioral skills training (BST) was then implemented with all participants to increase the accuracy of constructing both target behavior definitions and functional analysis procedures. Preliminary results show moderate rates of accuracy of target behavior definitions and functional analysis procedures prior to BST, and high rates of accuracy following BST. The results also suggest high implementation fidelity on the open-ended interview may not be necessary to achieve high accuracy when constructing target behavior definitions and functional analysis procedures.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Metras, Rachel

Increasing Problem Solving in a Special Education Class by Teaching Talk Aloud Problem Solving (TAPS)

Description: Although there is extensive research demonstrating the benefits of teaching problem solving repertoires to typically developing individuals, there is little research on the effectiveness of these kinds of procedures with individuals with special needs. In this study, a group of special education students in a public school were taught problem solving skills using a curriculum called Talk Aloud Problem Solving (TAPS), which was developed by Robbins (2014). TAPS teaches students five problem solving skills and five active listening skills. This study utilized a multiple baseline design to examine whether training in TAPS would change the way that students solve problems and increase their accuracy when solving problems. In addition, a reversal design was used for each participant, consisting of the presence and the removal of the active listener during different stages of the study. After TAPS training and guided practice sessions, all students demonstrated new problem solving repertoires and their accuracy improved. For some students, having an audience (an active listener) was necessary to maintain their behavior. Further research is needed to determine how to teach students to be their own active listener.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Will, Sean

A Preliminary Evaluation of an Indirect Assessment of Sensitivity to Aversive Stimulation

Description: Aversive tasks and activities are commonly encountered in the everyday routines of most individuals. For individuals with intellectual disabilities, a means to assess individual sensitivities to aversive stimulation could allow caregivers to avoid unnecessary contact with aversive events, teach appropriate ways to avoid or escape aversive situations, and condition tolerance to unavoidable aversive tasks and activities. The current study, conducted at a large, state-operated residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, used an anecdotal assessment, the Sensitivities to Aversive Stimulation Survey (SASS), to evaluate the relative aversiveness of an array of commonly encountered tasks and activities for each participant. Five caregivers complete the 25-question assessment, using Likert-type scales to rate individual participants' affect, compliance or tolerance, and severity of problem behavior related to each item. The mean scores of the raters were used to estimate the aversiveness of each task, condition, or activity. The outcomes from the SASS were then compared with outcomes of an experimental analysis in which participants could emit responses to escape situations that were ranked either high or low using the SASS. Relative aversiveness was evaluated by comparing the percentage of trials with escape behavior and duration of exposure for each stimulus. Preliminary results indicate that the SASS may be useful in identifying aversive tasks and stimuli.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Hope, Mariah L.

An Engagement Bout Analysis of the Effects of Effort

Description: Operant response rate can be viewed as bouts, periods of alternating engagement and disengagement with ongoing schedules of reinforcement. Relatively few studies have examined the role of force and effort on engagement bouts. Moreover, those examining effort have used switch closure devices to define the response. Switch closures tend to overestimate the effect of effort because increasing the force requirement excludes low-force responses that previously activated the switch. In the present study, we examined the effects of effort using a force transducer, which allows us to record criterion responses that meet the force requirement and subcriterion responses that do not. The current study was conducted using four male Sprague Dawley rats. Each rat was run through a series of four conditions, each with a different combination of variable interval schedules (VI 30s, VI 120s) and force requirements (5.6g, 32g). Log survivor analyses of bout structure showed that increased force requirements decreased the rate of bout initiations. Additionally, when log-survivor functions were computed using only criterion responses, shifts in the function were less extreme than when all measured responses were used; the latter finding suggests exclusion of "subcriterion" responses in prior work has overestimated the effects of force on bout structure
Date: August 2017
Creator: Moore, Alyssa Nicole

Development and Validation of Measures of Generalization of a Behavior Management Package

Description: In order for the benefits of a behavior management skills training program to reach clients, caregivers must use the behavior management skills in the natural environment. The current study took place at a large residential facility for adults with disabilities, in which caregivers had received prior training in which they demonstrated behavior management skills and maintained those skills in contrived role plays. The current study represents a preliminary analysis of generalization of these skills in the natural environment; thus, a measurement system for when caregivers should demonstrate the tools was developed. The specific purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate a program to establish stimulus control over observers' measurement of appropriate behaviors. Researchers systematically developed and validated a measurement system of "good behaviors" that could be used across clients. The process of development and refinement of the measurement system is described. When the system was finalized, three observers' accuracy in using the system was assessed by comparing measured values to that of the code writer. Following feedback on individual instances of behavior, all observers scored the three target behaviors accurately. Ecological validity was assessed by surveying professionals at the facility and ecological validity results suggested a valid measurement system was developed.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Speckin, Lauren Marie

A Conjugate Arrangement for Measuring Commercial Viewing

Description: Commercial viewing was measured by a conjugate arrangement for 1 female and 3 male participants. Reinforcing qualities were evaluated according to screen variations and ratings. Subjects changed the screen clarity via knob pressing either making the screen more or less transparent, translucent or opaque based on commercial interest. Results were conducive to participant attentiveness or indifference to commercial viewing. Experimenter was able to identify the commercials that grasped and maintained the participants' viewing behavior. Conceptually this conjugate arrangement could enhance eye tracking technology to improve marketing and advertising strategies. This experiment yield results that suggest a more concrete analysis of consumer response to visual stimuli that maintains attending.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Morgan, Amber

A Decision-Making Model for Safe and Effective Use of Functional Analysis Procedures

Description: While functional analysis provides the standard methodology for the assessment of problem behavior, procedures still pose potential risk when assessing severe problem behavior. Previous studies have examined several strategies to improve the efficiency of and reduce risks related to the functional analysis process. The purpose of the present series of studies was to replicate and extend previous research on the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior for one participant diagnosed with an intellectual disability. By incorporating strategies within a systematic decision-making framework, functional analysis procedures were implemented to conduct the assessment of precursors, determine maintaining contingencies for severe problem behavior, and evaluate the effects of a treatment based on the results of a functional analysis.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Vega, Gabrielle M.

Reinforcing Variability Produces Stereotypic Behavior

Description: Behaving in novel ways is essential to the development of the types of complex performances described by the term creativity, problem solving, and perseverance. Some research suggests that response variability is an operant and a critical component of novel behavior. However, other account of novel behavior may be more parsimonious. Topographical variability has rarely been examined, nor has operant variability with organisms with baselines featuring stereotypic responding. This study examined the effects of a variability-specifying contingency on the cumulative novel responses of undergraduate students. Using the PORTL apparatus, participants interacted with a ball with a single hand. When the variability-specifying contingency was in effect, novel topographies were reinforced. When a reinforce every response condition was implemented, the participants did not emit any novel responses. When variability-specifying contingencies were in effect, novel responses were rarely followed by subsequent novel responses. They were mostly followed by repeated emission of the same topography, or by other previously emitted topographies. Novel responding did not persist long, although the variability-specifying contingency remained in effect and the potential for novel responding was great. The variability-specifying contingency often resulted in stereotypic response chains. Each of these findings call into the question the assertion that variability is an operant and suggests other possible explanations for the observed novelty.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Kieta, Andrew

Improving Staff Tutoring in a Special Education Class Through Active Listening Skills

Description: According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2015, Texas special education programs were rated among the lowest in the nation. School districts in the state have a substantial need for effective and efficient staff training. In this study, researchers implemented TAPS: A Talk Aloud Problem Solving Approach Packet to teach active listener qualities to staff members in a life skills special education classroom. A multiple baseline across staff members was used to evaluate the effects of the TAPS training on the presence and absence of the staff members' active listener qualities during a pre-test, a post-test, and probes. The staff members that underwent TAPS training acquired all of the active listener qualities as a function of the TAPS training, and the effects of the training maintained during probe sessions. Additionally, TAPS training appeared to improve staff members' scores on the Whimbey Analytical Skills Inventory (WASI) Test and anecdotally improved the quality of staff and student tutoring interactions. Several areas of potential research and improvement are discussed.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Neri-Hernandez, Lucero

A Comparative Evaluation of Matrix Training Arrangements

Description: A common goal of instructional techniques is to teach skills effectively and efficiently. Matrix training techniques are both effective and efficient as they allow for the emergence of untrained responding to novel stimulus arrangements, a phenomenon known as recombinative generalization. However, it is unclear which type of matrix arrangement best promotes recombinative generalization. The current study compared two common matrix training approaches, an overlapping (OV) design and a non-overlapping (NOV) design, with respect to arranging relations targeted for training. We conducted a replication evaluation of a Wilshire and Toussaint study, and taught two typically-developing preschoolers compound object-action labels in Spanish and used either an OV or NOV matrix training design. Results from both studies demonstrated the participant trained with an OV design produced recombinative generalization and participants trained with a NOV design produced significantly low levels of emergence or none at all. These results suggest that an OV matrix design facilitates recombinative generalization more effectively than a NOV design. Implications for instructional arrangements are discussed.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Cliett, Terra N

A Constructional Approach to Establishing and Maintaining Calm Canine Behavior

Description: Very few behavior-change programs with canines produce effects that persist beyond the training condition. The present study is an experimental demonstration of a constructional program that established calm patterns of behavior as alternatives to hyperactive ones. Three dogs that exhibited hyperactive patterns were chosen as subjects. Seven conditions common to canine-caretaker relationships were used to determine which factors resulted in the hyperactive patterns. Then, sitting and lying down were taught as beginning points using touch as a reinforcer. The final behavior, maintained by naturally occurring reinforcers, was established errorlessly. The study used a control-analysis strategy of behavior change with a changing-criterion design. The intervention resulted in an immediate reduction in hyperactivity and an increase in sitting and lying down for all dogs.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Owens, Chase

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

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.

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.

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

Can Observing Behavior Predict Performance in Conditional Discriminations?

Description: Prompts are implemented often in training procedures, to include conditional discriminations, and this can lead to prompt dependency. The current study extends a prior study that suggested that the effectiveness of supplementary visual stimuli displaying the sample and comparison was dependent on the timing in relation to the selection task, presented as a prompt or feedback, in a match-to-sample procedure. The current research examines if the differences in that effectiveness were due to differences in observing behavior in those two conditions. Measures of observing behavior were determined by making access to the individual visual stimuli contingent on clicking on the visual stimulus and keeping the cursor located on the stimulus. Participants viewed the sample comparison much less than the comparison stimulus in both the prompt and feedback conditions. Latency to select the comparison stimulus was much shorter for the prompt condition suggesting that the participants might have interacted differently with the selection task in the two conditions.
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Marchini, Kevin Julian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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