Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy

The B. F. Skinner Foundation sponsors this award through the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy.

2010 Student Research Award:

Sinead WoodSinead Petersen, Simmons College

Title: “Evaluating Treatment Integrity Across Prompting Strategies with Paraprofessionals using a Discrete-Trial Training Method”

Advisor: Dr. Michael Cameron

Abstract: Treatment integrity is an important and largely unexamined area in the school consultation literature. This study will investigate the relationship between procedural complexity and treatment integrity.   Seven paraprofessionals in one public school will teach seven autistic children.   A variety of receptive targets will be taught in a discrete trial format using two different prompting strategies: flexible prompting and least-to-most prompting. In the context of an alternating treatments design, percentage correct of discrete trial teaching components will be measured in the two prompting conditions. This research will provide school professionals with important information regarding the relationship between procedural complexity and treatment integrity. School consultants may use this information to identify procedures that require less follow up.


2010 Student Poster Award:

awardCatherine Taylor-Santa, Caldwell College

“Discrimination Training Procedure to Establish Conditioned Reinforcers for Children with Autism”

Advisor: Dr. Tina Sidener

Abstract: Although conditioned reinforcers are used in many behavioral intervention programs for individuals with developmental disabilities, little research has been conducted with this population to determine optimal methods for producing conditioned reinforcers.  The current study employed a multiple-probe design across stimuli with three children with autism to evaluate the effects of a discrimination training procedure on the reinforcing effectiveness of arbitrary stimuli.  Specific procedures were incorporated to increase methodological rigor (i.e., use of new response, reinforcer and neutral stimulus assessments) and enhance differential responding (i.e., alternation of SD and S-delta trials). For all three participants, responding in the SD condition increased briefly during all evaluations and remained low in the S-delta condition.  IOA data were collected for 50% of randomly selected sessions for each participant and agreement was 100% for all participants except for post-test sessions for one participant (M = 99.4%; range = 90%-100%).  Recommendations for future research on methods to increase the duration of these effects are provided.

2011 Student Research Award:

Giles Aimee F. Giles, West Virginia University

Title: “Comparison of Two Teaching Procedures on Generalization Across Settings and Time”

Advisor: Dr. Claire St. Peter

Abstract: Discrete-trial training (DTT) has been demonstrated to be an effective teaching tool; however, little research has been conducted demonstrating if skills learned by DTT generalize to naturalistic learning contexts (e.g., Lovaas, 1987). One method of DTT, task interspersal, has been demonstrated, to result in faster acquisition and better generalization compared to massed-trial procedures. Rowan & Pear (1985) attributed enhanced acquisition and generalization of skills following task-interspersal training to increased reinforcer density and enhanced stimulus control. The present study will investigate the effects of task-interspersal and massed-trial procedures on acquisition, maintenance, and generalization to a naturalistic learning context. In addition, two test procedures will attempt to identify whether increased reinforcer density or enhanced stimulus control may contribute to the effectiveness of task-interspersal procedures.

2011 Student Poster Award:

Jessica Seaver Jessica L. Seaver, The New England Center for Children and Western New England University

Title: “An Evaluation of a Response Prompt Assessment”

Advisor: Dr. Jason Bourret

Abstract: Acquiring new skills can be difficult for students with autism. Research is still needed to identify a teaching procedure that helps students learn most efficiently. Three different teaching modalities were compared in a multi-element design using novel Lego constructs: 1) verbal+gestural, 2) model, and 3) manual guidance. All procedures were taught with a forward task analysis to 5 different participants. Once a participant acquired one construct associated with a specific teaching procedure, 3 new constructs were presented and taught with the same modalities for replication purposes. In a 2nd phase, novel Lego constructs were used again to compare three different prompt fading procedures: 1) delay fading, 2) least-to-most fading, and 3) most-to-least fading. In a final generality phase, clinically relevant skills were used to replicate and generalize findings obtained in the first two phases. The results of this assessment will be used to further evaluate and develop an assessment which identifies the most efficient teaching procedure for individuals with autism.

2012 Student Research Award:

MDonnellyMaeve Donnelly, Western New England University

Title: “Prevalence and Effects of Teaching Errors on Acquisition of Self-Care Chains”

Advisor: Dr. Amanda Karsten

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.

2012 Student Poster Award:

Anthony PalermoAnthony M. Palermo, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Title: “Examining the Preference for Fixed Contingent and Fixed Noncontingent Reinforcement Schedules.”

Advisor: Dr. Lauren Beaulieu

Abstract: In 3 translational studies, we assessed the preference for contingent reinforcement (CR) and noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) with 11 undergraduates. In Study 1, we assessed the preference for CR and NCR with work materials present during all conditions. In Study 2, we assessed the preference for CR and NCR with work materials absent during NCR. In study 3, we assessed the preference for intermittent CR and NCR. Across all studies, the reinforcement amount was yoked from CR to NCR and we included a response cost condition to assess the value of the stimuli used as reinforcers and as a control during the preference assessment.Two observers independently collected data on the number of filed papers and initial link card selections across 100% of sessions and participants. Mean IOA for filed papers was 99% (range, 93% to 100%) across all conditions and participants. We calculated IOA on card selections by dividing the number of agreements by the total number of selections and multiplying by 100. IOA for card selections was 100% across all sessions and all participants. We found that 6 participants preferred CR, 4 participants demonstrated indifference, and 1 participant preferred NCR. No participant preferred response cost. We shifted the preference of 10 of the 11 participants by manipulating the yoked reinforcement schedule. We discuss the implications of these results.



2013 Student Research Award

Stephanie HoodStephanie A. Hood, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe Meyer Institute

Title: “An Evaluation of Parents’ Acquisition and Generalization of Teaching Functional Communication and Delay and Denial Tolerance to Decrease Child Problem Behavior”

Advisor: Dr. Kevin Luczynski

Abstract: The purpose of our study is to extend the preschool life skills (PLS; Hanley, Heal, Tiger, & Ingvarsson, 2007) by assessing stimulus generalization of parents’ implementation of the functional communication and self-control units with their child at home following brief (1-2 hr) in-clinic training.  Following parent training in the clinic, we will assess parents’ accuracy in implementing the teaching procedures in their home and their child’s acquisition of the skills.  After the child acquires the communication response, we will assess whether generalization of the teaching skills occurs across novel (untaught) evocative situations at home.  We will measure parents’ procedural integrity and conduct booster-training sessions if errors are observed.  Teaching parents to be the primary behavior-change agent may have implications for the long-term maintenance of their child’s appropriate communication while preventing the development of severe problem behavior.  We will use web-based cameras to gather descriptive data on the type of procedural integrity errors made and challenges to treatment implementation in the home.



2013 Student Poster Award:

Jackie MarraJacqueline P. Marra, New England Center for Children

Title: “Negative Reinforcer Magnitude Manipulations without Extinction for Treating Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior.”

Advisor: Dr. Eileen M. Roscoe

Abstract: Differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior (DNRA) without extinction has been found ineffective for reducing escape-maintained problem behavior. However, DNRA without extinction has been found effective when used in conjunction with discrepant negative reinforcer magnitudes (longer break for compliance than for problem behavior). Subsequent replication attempts have not yielded similar findings. Therefore, the potential utility of DNRA with discrepant reinforcer magnitudes remains unclear. In the current study, we assessed the effects of DNRA without extinction when discrepant reinforcer magnitudes for compliance and problem behavior were used in a participant with an autism spectrum disorder. An escape baseline was compared to an equal magnitude escape condition (30 s for compliance and problem behavior), a large discrepancy escape condition (240 s for compliance, 10 s for problem behavior, and a moderate discrepancy escape condition (90 s for compliance, 10 s for problem behavior), using a reversal design. DNRA without extinction with a large discrepancy in reinforcer magnitude resulted in shifts in response allocation from problem behavior to compliance, whereas the other conditions did not. Interobsever agreement was collected for 31% of sessions and averaged 93.6% (range, 83.3% to 100%) for self-injury and 98.6% (range, 86.7% to 100%) for compliance.


CalABA California Association for Behavior Analysis Awards

The B. F. Skinner Foundation sponsors this award for graduate student research. Two awards of $500 each are available.

2013 Research Award Winner:

marnieMarnie Shapiro
California State University, Northridge
Maximizing Supervisors’ Efficiency: The Use of Enhanced Written Instructions to Teach Undergraduates to Implement a Stimulus Preference Assessment

Training of staff to implement preference assessments is of paramount importance because the efficacy of behavior change programs depends upon staffs’ ability to identify stimuli that may function as reinforcers for individual consumers. Thus, the purpose of my study is to replicate the methods used by Graff & Karsten (2012) and to extend and correct for the authors’ self-disclosed limitation. At baseline, I will randomly assign participants to one of two baseline conditions. In the replication condition, three participants will receive Graff & Karsten’s (2012) modified version of the methods section from Fisher et al. (1992). In the extension condition, I will simulate a baseline condition to approximate a real life setting (Iwata et al., 2000). Namely, the remaining three participants will receive instructions on a piece of paper that specify that they need to determine a consumer’s preference. I hypothesize that participants will reach the mastery criterion independent of the type of instructions given at baseline. Results from this study may contribute to a body of scientific knowledge which can improve training and supervision procedures used in applied behavior analysis. Full abstract.

2012 Research Award Winners:

johnatanJonathan Fernand
California State University, Sacramento
The Effect of Choice Between Non-preferred foods on the Food Consumption of Individuals With Food Selectivity
Full Abstract




bryonBryon Miller
University of the Pacific
Behavioral Assessment of Physical Activity in Young Children
Full abstract



2011 Research Award Winner:

Sean Blumberg
University of the Pacific
The Effect of Parent Modeling on the Rate of Food Consumption in Children

2010 Research Award Winner:

Lesley A. Macpherson
California State University, Sacramento
A Comparison of Response Interruption and Redirection on Vocal and Motor Stereotypy

2009 Research Award Winner:

Marla D. Saltzman
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles
An Evaluation of Multiple Exemplar Training on the Emergence of Reverse Foreign-Language Intraverbals and Listener Responding


Division 25 of the American Psychological Association Awards

The B. F. Skinner Foundation sponsors a Young Research Award for innovative and important research in behavior analysis conducted within the first five years of receiving a doctorate.

2011 Awards:

Matt Normand, University of the Pacific

Title: Battling the Bulge: Future Directions for Behavioral Research on Obesity

Abstract: Obesity is a significant public health concern and is largely the result of two behavioral factors: eating and physical activity. Despite the importance of the problem and the clear role behavior plays in causing it, one can argue that very little is known about the relationship of eating and activity to overweight and obesity, at least in a clinical sense. The research and practice in the areas of obesity prevention and treatment are dominated by inadequate measurement strategies, most involving self-reports of behavior. Moreover, little to no research has experimentally assessed the environmental variables that are functionally related to eating and activity. In this talk, I discuss some of the problems facing researchers trying to accurately measure eating and activity in “free living” conditions and describe the research from my lab that is addressing the problems of measurement and assessment so as to better inform interventions designed to prevent and treat overweight and obesity, especially in children. I argue that behavior analytic approaches to research and intervention, refined over the years with a variety of populations and across a range of problems, are well suited to advance research on, and interventions for, obesity.

Christopher A. Podlesnik, The University of Auckland

Title: Stimulus context and resistance to change

Abstract: Challenges to the treatment of any undesirable behavior often are the persistence and likelihood of reoccurrence (i.e., relapse). The present studies explored in animal models how contextual stimuli mediate the persistence and relapse of positively reinforced behavior. Arranging alternative sources of reinforcement within the stimulus context decreased target responding, consistent with treatments directed toward decreasing problem behavior. However, resistance to extinction and the relapse of target responding also was greater in stimulus contexts presenting alternative reinforcement. Finally, we explored a method to circumvent enhancing the target response while still reducing its frequency. Responding was maintained in three mutually exclusive stimulus contexts, two of which maintained different responses in separate stimulus contexts. In a third, a separate response was reinforced in the same context as a target response, modelling a differential-reinforcement-of-alternative-behaviour (DRA) schedule. The overall reinforcement rate in the DRA context was equal to the sum of the separate stimulus contexts. Combining the separate stimulus contexts during extinction reduced resistance to change of target responding relative to in the DRA context. Therefore, training alternative responses in separate contexts circumvents enhancing the persistence of undesirable behavior observed with methods standard for decreasing problem behavior. Moreover, these findings elucidate reinforcement conditions contributing to the persistence and relapse of behavior and provide a framework from which interventions for problem behavior might be developed.

2010 Awards:

Paul Soto of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was selected to receive the Basic Research Award based on his research in the area of quantitative analysis. Paul received his Ph.D. from Emory University.

Michael Kelley of The University of Southern Maine was selected to receive the Applied Research Award based on his research in the areas of functional analysis and treatment of severe problem behavior and language development. Michael received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.


The Florida Association for Behavior Analysis Awards

2007 Award Winner:

griffinGriffin Rooker
Mr. Rooker used his scholarship funds to conduct a study that looks at assessing and treating problem behavior occasioned by dental procedures. The treatment will be video modeling.




2006 Award Winner:

jeanneJeanne Donaldson
Ms. Donaldson used her scholarship funds to conduct a study on increasing physical activity with overweight and obese adults. The scholarship allowed her to purchase five heart rate monitors that recorded calorie expenditure. These monitors allowed Ms. Donaldson to use calorie expenditure as a dependent measure for physical activity.