Log in
Log in


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 
  • 1 Dec 2023 1:41 PM | Anonymous

  • 1 Dec 2023 1:40 PM | Anonymous

  • 1 Dec 2023 1:39 PM | Anonymous

  • 3 Jul 2023 2:19 PM | Anonymous

  • 30 May 2023 2:02 PM | Anonymous

  • 30 May 2023 1:59 PM | Anonymous

  • 30 May 2023 1:56 PM | Anonymous

  • 8 Nov 2022 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    Is ABA Just Discrete Trial Teaching? (No!)

    “When one teaches, two learn” – Robert Heinlein

    Author: Erin Leif, BCBA-D

    Sometimes, people think ABA incorrectly is synonymous with discrete trial teaching (DTT). DTT is but one evidence-informed teaching tactic! In our recent survey of the professional practice of ABA in Australia, we found that BCBAs used a whole range of teaching tactics in ABA-based programs, including naturalistic teaching, shaping, modelling, positive reinforcement, and prompting. 

    However, DTT can be a useful strategy in an ABA-based program, as it offers several advantages, all of which are designed to maximise the learner’s success:

    1. DTT provides a clear and technological description of all components of teaching so multiple teachers can teach the skill in a consistent way (which prevents the learner from becoming confused and maximises learner success)
    2. DTT involves breaking larger skills down into small teachable components, to meet the learner where they are at and ensure the learner can fully participate
    3. DTT provides multiple practice opportunities for the learner within in single session. It is similar to a high-impact teaching strategy called opportunities to respond, which is widely used in classrooms to actively engage all students in the learning process
    4. DTT incorporates prompting and prompt fading to maximise the learner’s success and build the learner’s independence with the skill. Prompts are gradually faded as the learner becomes more independent with this skill. This is similar to the process of scaffolding, which is often used in classrooms to help students learn new skills a little bit at a time 
    5. DTT provides numerous opportunities for reinforcement within a single session. By keeping the rate of reinforcement high, the learning context should be enjoyable for both learner and teacher
    6. DTT specifies clear mastery criteria. In other words, teaching continues until the learner demonstrates full independence with the skill (rather than moving on to new skills too quickly, before the learner is ready)
    7. Each discrete response can be measured, and data can be graphed and analysed (e.g., by frequency, rate, or per cent correct/independent) to make teaching decisions and facilitate data-based problem-solving. In doing so, challenges the learner might be experiencing can be identified and addressed quickly, and changes can be made to the way we teach to keep the learner successful. 

    DTT is not an appropriate teaching strategy for every skill. It is best used to teach discrete skills, or those which require a single response. Examples of discrete skills include pointing to objects or pictures (receptive language), naming objects or pictures (expressive language), following one-step instructions, matching, or imitation. 

    Leaf et al. (2016) advocate for a progressive approach to DTT in ABA-based programs. In a flexible approach, fixed and inflexible protocols for using DTT are not used. Rather, teachers are encouraged to use their clinical judgement to make moment-to-moment decisions about the effectiveness of their teaching, based on ongoing analysis of the data. Leaf et al. recommend (a) making decisions about how to arrange teaching sessions (for example, the type and location of teaching materials) based on the strengths and needs of the learner, (b) using natural language when delivering instructions, (c) varying instructions when possible, (d) using flexible prompt fading strategies, (e) using a variety of consequences, including reinforcement and corrective feedback, which have been individualised to the learner, and (f) teaching in real-world (or “busy”) environments, when feasible. Such approaches may facilitate the development of more flexible and generalisable learner repertoires. 

    Further Reading

    • Ferraioli, S., Hughes, C., & Smith, T. (2005). A model for problem solving in discrete trial training for children with autism. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention2(4), 224.
    • Greer, R. D., & McDonough, S. H. (1999). Is the learn unit a fundamental measure of pedagogy?. The behavior analyst22(1), 5-16.
    • Leaf, J. B., Cihon, J. H., Leaf, R., McEachin, J., & Taubman, M. (2016). A progressive approach to discrete trial teaching: Some current guidelines. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education9(2), 361-372.
    • Steege, M. W., Mace, F. C., Perry, L., & Longenecker, H. (2007). Applied behavior analysis: Beyond discrete trial teaching. Psychology in the Schools44(1), 91-99.
  • 4 Oct 2022 11:11 AM | Claire Connolly (Administrator)

    Reinforcement versus Rewards – What’s the Difference (And Why Does It Matter)?

    “Behaviour goes where reinforcement flows” – Aubrey Daniels

    Author: Erin Leif, BCBA-D

    In every day and in pop psychology, the terms reward and reinforcement are often used interchangeably. However, there are important distinctions! 

    A reward is defined based on what it looks like, such as a sticker, lolly, or smiley face on the board. In other words, a reward is a thing, not a process. Often, rewards are selected by the parent or teacher, are dispensed in the same way to everyone (for example, all students in the class), and are delivered for behaviours that may not be clearly identified and described to students. Rewards may or may not have any effect on behaviour.

    By contrast, reinforcement is a process, not a thing. In ABA, reinforcement is defined as a stimulus change (or consequence) following a behaviour that increases the future likelihood of that behaviour. If a specific consequence is shown to increase the occurrence of behaviour (for example, getting an HD on a quiz increases study behaviour), we call the consequence a reinforcer. Sometimes, a reward can function as a reinforcer - but not always! 

    To use reinforcement effectively, the parent or teacher must be able to (a) describe the specific target behaviours for increase, (b) identify specific and individualised reinforcers for each person, (c) deliver the reinforcer following the target behaviour, and (d) demonstrate that the delivery of the reinforcer results in an improvement or increase in the target behaviour of the learner. 

    What functions as a reinforcer is likely to vary from person to person – we are all different, and we all have unique likes and dislikes! Reinforcers can include social interactions, types of social attention, activities, events, toys and objects, sensory feedback, and even task completion. Extrinsic reinforcers are consequences that are dispensed by other people, such as activities, stickers, pay cheques, and good grades. Intrinsic reinforcers are directly produced by the behaviour itself (i.e., are not delivered by someone else) and may include things like reading a book, engaging in a hobby, or playing a video game. Both extrinsic and intrinsic reinforcers are important and influence our behaviour all the time. We often use extrinsic reinforcers, like praise or a toy, to establish new behaviours or skills. Over time, engaging in the skill produces forms of intrinsic reinforcement, such as feelings of success!

    When delivering extrinsic reinforcement, it is very important that we focus on interactions, not transactions. Every opportunity to deliver an extrinsic reinforcer is an opportunity for the adult to engage in a meaningful social interaction with the learner. This in turn can have the added effect of strengthening the relationship between the adult and learner. 

    Reinforcement is a very individualised process. When delivering ABA-based programs, it is important to identify the unique and personally relevant reinforcers for each person. We can do this by asking the person, asking others who know the person well, observing the person and noticing what types of things they like to do, providing the person with lots of choices, and helping the person experience new things in life. Ultimately, we should strive to create contexts for people we support in which they can experience lots and lots of reinforcement, both extrinsic and intrinsic! 

    Rewards and reinforcement are not the same! However, we often use these terms interchangeably in everyday language. In ABA, we advocate for the use of reinforcement, not rewards. Reinforcement is a person-centred and individualised process that leads to meaningful skill development and opportunities for strengthening relationships. 

    Further Reading

    Hardy, J. K., & McLeod, R. H. (2020). Using Positive Reinforcement With Young Children. Beyond Behavior29(2), 95-107.

    Scott, T. M., & Landrum, T. J. (2020). An evidence-based logic for the use of positive reinforcement: Responses to typical criticisms. Beyond Behavior29(2), 69-77.

    Sugai, G., & Simonsen, B. (2020). Reinforcement foundations of a function-based behavioral approach for students with challenging behavior. Beyond Behavior29(2), 78-85.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 



PO Box 61
Sandy Bay, TAS 7005

The Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software