Evaluation of a self-instructional package for teaching tutors to conduct discrete-trials teaching with children with autism

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Thomson, Kendra M.
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A widely used instructional method for teaching children with autism is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), and a main component of ABA programming is discrete-trials teaching (DTT). DTT is made up of a series of brief teaching trials, with each trial including an antecedent (e.g., an instruction from the teacher), a response from the child, and an immediate consequence (e.g., a reinforcer provided for a correct response). Using a modified multiple-baseline design across participants, Experiment 1 assessed the effectiveness of a DTT self-instructional package (Fazzio & Martin, 2007) for teaching 4 pairs of newly-hired ABA tutors how to apply 21 components of DTT to teach 3 tasks to a confederate role-playing a child with autism. In Experiment 2, a group of 8 additional tutors were each independently presented with the same procedure. In both experiments, in Phase 1(baseline), tutors attempted to teach the 3 tasks to the confederate. In Phase 2 (manual), tutors mastered a 37-page self-instructional manual and once again attempted to teach the same 3 tasks to the confederate. Phase 3 was a within-subject AB design component. That is, if tutors did not meet a DTT mastery criterion of 80% after studying the manual in Phase 2, then they watched a brief video demonstration of a DTT expert teaching a task to a child role-playing a child with autism (Fazzio, 2007), and then once again attempted to teach the 3 tasks to the confederate. Across both experiments: a) The 16 tutors averaged 4.6 hours to master the self-instructional manual, and showed an average improvement in DTT accuracy of 32.2% from baseline; b) For the 13 tutors who did not meet the mastery criterion after reading the manual, their average DTT performance improved an additional 12% after watching the video; c) 13 of the 16 participants met mastery (3 after the manual and 10 after the manual plus video), and the other 3 tutors were very close to mastery. The results suggest that the training package is a practical, economical and efficient method of instructing newly-hired tutors in ABA programs for children with autism.
autism, discrete-trials teaching, applied behavior analysis