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Application and evaluation of a computer-based ABA skill training program for teachers of children with autism

Grant number: 12/04267-9
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: August 09, 2012 - August 08, 2013
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal Investigator:Antonio Celso de Noronha Goyos
Grantee:Antonio Celso de Noronha Goyos
Visiting researcher: Thomas Sean Higbee
Visiting researcher institution: Utah State University (USU), United States
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Autism is a severe developmental disability characterized by significant communication and social deficits and often accompanied by severe behavior problems. Autism is a worldwide problem with research studies around the globe showing that the disorder is on the rise with some prevalence estimates suggesting that as many as 1 in 80 children have some form of the disorder. Researchers have shown that with intensive behavioral intervention many of these children can make dramatic progress and can become productive members of society. The most successful treatment approaches are based on principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA-based techniques are most effective when they are intensive in nature (20-40 hours per week of individual instruction) and when they begin at an early age (by 3 years of age). These intensive ABA-based interventions often continue for two or more years. These ABA-based programs are usually designed and monitored by professionals with graduate training in behavior. Therapists or teachers who provide the instruction to the child with autism are trained in ABA-based teaching techniques and monitored frequently to ensure they are delivering ABA-based intervention with fidelity. Qualified teachers and credentialed supervisors are in shortage, thus it is important for researchers to develop new methods of training practitioners who will work with children with autism. Researchers have investigated three primary strategies for improving the ABA-based instructional skills of practitioners: written self-instruction manuals that are self-paced and provide content, examples, and quizzes for trainees to complete; video modeling, in which trainers depict the proper use of a technique in videotaped; and finally, online interactive instruction, a technique that combines the most promising features of self-instruction manuals and video modeling. With online interactive instruction, participants complete learning modules on a computer where content is presented, appropriate implementation of techniques is modeled via video, and quizzes are completed to evaluate acquisition of content knowledge. To date, only one group design study has been completed on the use of online interactive instruction. While participants in this study showed improvement on content knowledge scores as measured by interactive quizzes, their use of ABA-based techniques with actual children with autism was not measured. Given that the limited research generated on this technique has been generally favorable and due to its potential for facilitating widespread dissemination of evidence-based treatments, additional empirical study seems warranted. Thus, the focus of this project will be to pilot an online interactive instructional program to train professionals to effectively use ABA-based techniques with children with autism. This will be accomplished in three stages: 1) Replicating a study currently underway our university where a computer-based instructional package is being developed to teach basic ABA-based techniques to university students, 2) Extending this research by designing and evaluating a computer based instructional package to teach advanced ABA-based teaching techniques to university students, and finally 3) An experiment where we will evaluate the effectiveness of these two computer-based instructional packages with teachers working with children with autism in a brazilian institution. Our research will extend scientific knowledge in this area because we will measure not only the acquisition of content knowledge via interactive quizzes, but also the actual implementation of ABA-based teaching skills with children with autism in clinical settings. This will allow us to determine if online interactive instruction is an effective method of training professionals working directly with children with autism by measuring their use of the trained skills in the environment where these skills are ultimately intended to be used. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
HIGBEE, THOMAS S.; APORTA, ANA PAULA; RESENDE, ALICE; NOGUEIRA, MATEUS; GOYOS, CELSO; POLLARD, JOY S.. INTERACTIVE COMPUTER TRAINING TO TEACH DISCRETE-TRIAL INSTRUCTION TO UNDERGRADUATES AND SPECIAL EDUCATORS IN BRAZIL: A REPLICATION AND EXTENSION. JOURNAL OF APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS, v. 49, n. 4, p. 780-793, . (12/04267-9, 12/19534-2)

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