Applied Behavior Analysis Project

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1 Applied Behavior Analysis Project Meagan Maurer Behavior Management Professor Peck December 9, 2002

2 Introduction: David is nine years old, and is currently in the fourth grade in a suburban elementary school. Although David has not been diagnosed or evaluated for ADHD, he has been described as hyperactive in school since kindergarten. During school, David is constantly finding small items like paper clips, elastic bands, rulers, and erasers to play with, which distracts him from his work. David also has difficulty sitting still, and maintaining attention during group discussions and when directions are being given. Due to these behaviors, David is often off-task, which often results in a reprimand from the teacher. David s energy and enthusiasm is appreciated in the classroom, but his classroom teacher and myself would like to see David increase the amount of time spent on school related work, which will be referred to as on-task behavior. The goal of this Applied Behavior Analysis Project is to accelerate the amount of time David is ontask through positive reinforcement in the form of a token economy. Baseline Phase: For the purpose of this project, on-task behavior will be considered any behavior that is consistent with the directions or expectations of a given activity or lesson. For group or whole class discussions, on-task behavior will be considered using the school listening look (directly looking at the speaker), and following along with the discussion so that when called upon, the student will be able to participate. To collect data, I chose to use a Partial Interval Time Sampling strategy, which asks the question: did the behavior occur at all during the time interval? I chose this particular strategy because I knew that it would not be feasible for me to record the length of time David was on task, or for me to observe David for a complete ten-minute interval and determine whether or not he was on-task for the entire length of the interval. With Partial Interval Time Sampling, I only have to determine whether or not the target behavior occurred at all. Not how many times it occurred, but did it happen at all? Since our class has lunch at 1:15 PM everyday, I decided that I would observe David from 9:00 AM 1:00 PM, since this would allow me the opportunity to observe David s behavior during the morning hours, and for part of the afternoon. I then divided this time into ten-minute intervals. I felt that five-minute intervals would be too close together causing me to feel like I was being pulled into too many different directions, but that fifteenminute intervals would be too long and not allow me to collect enough information.

3 I collected baseline data for a period of nine days, to make sure that I had an adequate baseline. The mean averaged out to be 9.33, with the top and bottom envelope lines at 14 and The baseline graph (graph 1a) clearly shows that all of the points fall between the envelope line, deeming this an acceptable baseline. Transition from Baseline Phase to Treatment Phase: After the baseline was determined, David s teacher and I sat down to discuss what a realistic target for the amount of time spent on-task would be for David. To determine the amount of time a typical student spends on task, I used Normative Behavior Standards (NBS). The classroom teacher and I selected a student in the class who would be considered typical, and I observed the amount of time that he spent on-task for two days. On average, this student was on-task about 15 / 24 ten-minute intervals. We determined that we would have David work towards increasing the amount of time spent on-task from about 9 / 24 ten-minute intervals to 15 / 24 ten-minute intervals. I decided that together, David and I would gradually work towards this goal, so that he can find success and not feel overwhelmed. I would start with the goal that in order for David to earn a star each day, he would have to be on-task for 11 / 24 ten-minute intervals. After two weeks, I would raise this number by one. So every two weeks the expectations would be raised. Treatment Phase: For this project, I decided to have David work on accelerating the amount of time he spent on-task rather than decelerating the amount of time he spent off-task. Although in the end both objectives would accomplish the same goal, more time spent on-task, I would prefer David to work on increasing a positive behavior, rather than decreasing a negative one. Since the goal of this particular project was to accelerate a behavior, I had to decide between either positive or negative reinforcement to achieve the goal. For this particular case, I felt that positive reinforcement would be a more appropriate choice because in the past David has seemed to respond best to a situation when there is something to be earned. I decided to implement a token economy because they have a longer satiation point than a variety of other forms of reinforcement; and it would allow David a variety of opportunities and choices. First, I established a reinforcer menu with five items on it: 1) play on the computer for 20 minutes; 2) play with the hamster for 20 minutes; 3) sit next to a friend for half the day; 4) free homework pass for one assignment; and 5) a choice of a small item stickers, pens, pencils,

4 erasers, etc. I then had David rank the items from one to five; one being the most valuable and five being the least valuable. I then assigned each item a value in terms of stars. For more information, refer to Appendix A. For information regarding the data collected during the treatment phase, refer to the treatment phase graph (graph 1b). An important aspect of every procedure is the evaluation of that procedure. In the case of ABA, it is of considerable importance to determine whether or not the targeted behavior is under the control of the reinforcer or punisher, or something else. If the behavior is not under the control of the reinforcer or punisher, then the program is not working and should not be continued. To determine whether David s increased on-task behavior was under the control of the reinforcer, or whether it was under the control of some other unexpected reinforcer, I planned to do an AB Reversal Design. On November 25 th and 26 th, I did not reinforce David s on-task behavior. By the end of the first day, I saw the level of his on-task behavior return back to the baseline level. This reversal demonstrated that David s on-task behavior was indeed under the control of the reinforcer. Since we had a full-time student teacher in our classroom this semester, I was able to use Inter-Rater Reliability to judge the consistency of my measurement. One day each week, we would both keep track of David s on-task behavior. The level of agreement between our ratings ranged from.9 to 1. For the most part, we were both in agreement on what on-task behavior looks like. Maintenance Phase: Although David is still in the treatment phase of the program, he will most likely be entering the maintenance phase of the program sometime during mid-january. At this point, we will slowly, but systematically move from a fixed ratio to a variable ratio. Conclusion: Although David has not yet completed the program, the data clearly shows a gradual increase in the amount of time David is on-task.

5 Appendix A

6 Appendix B

7 Appendix C

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