Behavioural Skills Training- Equipping others to work with our learners

Behavioural Skills Training- Equipping others to work with our learners

Thursday 29th March 2018
By Roni Dunning, B.A., M.Sc., BCBA of Blossom ABA

I am really looking forward to presenting on Behavioural Skills Training during an online Conference organised by JACs On Line do Brasil in May 2018.

I have used BST with success across my programmes when providing parents and therapists with training and in different settings such as home and schools.

Equipping others to support and teach our learners effectively gives them the confidence to implement our recommendations and increases the success of interventions, consequently enabling progress quicker. I am passionate about training and have focused on it as the subject for my dissertation in December 2016 when I finished my ABA MSc.

The title of my dissertation is "Increasing Accurate Implementation of Mand Training Protocols Using Behavioural Skills Training" and I have added here some information on BST and a summary of studies below:

Behavioural Skills Training

Behavioural skills training (BST) has proved to be a successful model in addressing deficits in the application of training procedures and increasing staff competence (Parsons, Hollyson, & Reid, 2012). Parsons et al. (2012) explain that the BST model focuses on training individuals' performance skills so that they can perform duties that they could not perform before training. This is a step further from approaches that are focused on increasing knowledge or verbal skills, on the description of targets alone and on allowing individuals to answer questions about it (Parsons et. al, 2012). Behavioural skills training caters for gaps in treatment integrity (the implementation of programmes as designed) by combining instructions, modelling, role plays and feedback and it consists of verbal or written instructions, or a combination of both initially (Nigro-Bruzzi & Sturmey, 2010).

Nogro-Bruzzi & Sturmey (2010) explain that opportunities for trainees to ask questions is given during the instruction phase and during all phases of BST. Following instruction, the trainer will model the intervention (by showing the trainee how it is done first) and role plays can involve enabling the trainee to practice the skills being taught with the trainer, over a variety of scenarios, before they can then perform the skills on their own and receive feedback from the trainer (Nigro-Bruzzi & Sturmey, 2010). Evidence based literature shows that BST has been effective on training staff to perform their daily job duties with high levels of accuracy (Parsons et. al, 2012). In the teaching of children with developmental disabilities, BST was used to train teachers to implement Natural Language Paradigm (NLP) with six children. Teacher training accuracy increased following BST and the correct application of the training increased the students' vocalisations and consequently reduced problem behaviour (Gianoumis & Sturmey, 2012).

Madzharova et. al, 2012, evaluated treatment integrity in peer-to-peer manding training via two case studies. The first case study evaluated the effects of instructions, video modeling, role play and feedback on a trainee's teaching of peer-to-peer manding to two children. The second case study included only the components of video modeling and feedback. Results from both case studies showed that trainees were able to achieve the mastery criteria of 90% or over for treatment integrity scores and that the students' acquired independent mands as a result of the mand training. Madzharova and Sturmey (2015) did a replication of the second case study which focused on teaching a caregiver to implement peer-to-peer manding with their autistic child. In this study, training competence was achieved by the mother after training was given just via the video modeling and feedback components. Similarly to the study done in 2012, evidence suggested that training via these two components had been enough to increase the child's independent mands. As time spent with caregivers is usually limited for behaviour analysts, both studies by Mazharova provide invaluable evidence that training time can be reduced up to 82% when compared with the duration of BST training described in other studies such as Negro-Bruzzi and Sturmey (2010).

Nigro-Bruzzi and Sturmey (2010) used BST to train teachers and speech therapists from a special education establishment to implement mand training with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Staff involved in the study had no previous experience in implementing mand training and the four components of BST (instruction, modeling, role play and feedback) were used in order to teach staff to implement an eight-step mand training task analysis. BST sessions of the instruction, modeling and role play component lasted up to 1 hour for each participant and sessions with the children were 20 minutes in duration. Staff needed to meet a mastery criterion of 90% accuracy of implementation of mand training steps over three consecutive sessions during role plays with the researchers in order to move on to actual sessions with the children. The task analysis replicated mand training in the natural environment where multiple responses must be performed in a short period of time. Children and staff members were paired into dyads and each staff member remained with the same child for the duration of the study. Eight items were identified for use during mand training via staff and carer questionnaires and preference assessments. In the role play condition, researchers had the role of the student and the trainee had the role of the therapist. Data showed evidence that BST training was effective in improving staff competence and in increasing the students independent mands following training provided. Further research on the effects of BST on the implementation of mand training is warranted and studies on this topic area are limited.

Some BST/ Staff Training references:

Gianoumis, S., Seiverling, L., & Sturmey, P. (2012). The effects of behavior skills training on correct teacher implementation of Natural Language Paradigm teaching skills and child behavior. Behavioral Interventions, 27, 57-74.

Nigro-Bruzzi, D., and Sturmey, P. (2010). The effects of behavioral skills training on mand training by staff and unprompted vocal mands by children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43 (4), 757-761.

Parsons, M. B., Rollyson, J. H., Reid, D. H., (2012). Evidence-Based Staff Training: A guide for practitioners. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 5 (2), 2-11.

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