The purpose of this award is to support and encourage research efforts in behavior analysis among graduate students, to promote Skinnerian science, to boost the overall quality of academic research in behavior analysis, and to provide recognition for students conducting behavior analytic research. Below is her abstract:
Research demonstrates that training packages consisting of differential reinforcement and prompting comprise an effective method for teaching behavior chains to children with developmental disabilities. However, some children may fail to acquire important behavior chains, such as those associated with self-care skills (e.g., washing hands, making snack, folding clothes). The proposed study will evaluate the effects of empirically-derived teaching errors on the acquisition of self-care behavior chains. During the first phase of Study 1, teachers trained in behavior analytic teaching strategies will be asked via internet survey to describe problems that occur when teaching self-care skills to children with autism. Survey respondents who report a high degree of difficulty will be asked to participate in a descriptive assessment. The second phase of Study 1 will consist of a descriptive assessment designed to explore the prevalence of various deviations from prescribed teaching procedures (i.e., teaching errors) by teachers instructing self-care behavior chains. In Study 2, relative effects of the most prevalent teacher errors will be evaluated in terms of student learning. A multiple baseline across behavior chains design will be used to test whether the empirically-derived errors are functionally related to learning outcomes. Following this analysis, the most egregious teaching errors will be assessed with multiple between-participants demonstrations to determine the individual effects of each teaching error in isolation, including an analysis of which teaching errors are most detrimental to learning. Teaching errors assigned to each self-care behavior chain will be systematically varied across participants. Results will be discussed in terms of how research may help to identify priorities for teacher training and, potentially, to aid in the development of more user-friendly and effective practices for teaching behavior chains.