The value of checking

by Mike Miklos

If an educational treatment is not working often teachers will assume that it is not right for the student. The intervention may then be set aside and no longer used. However, doing so may lead to what could be an effective intervention being set aside prematurely. There are many things that can go wrong to cause an intervention to not be effective. For instance, a failure to take data on the intervention’s effectiveness may lead teachers to not realize that an intervention is having a positive effect. Taking data on how the student responds to teaching is very important for making sure that a particular lesson or behavior plan is effective. But sometimes, if the data shows an intervention is not working, it may be important to ask ‘why isn’t it working?” The first step in answering this question is to review if the intervention was delivered as it was designed.This may mean having to check whether all staff understand the steps in the how to deliver the lesson and then observing to see if the lesson is actually being delivered consistently across all staff who work with the student.The observational check provides a measure of what is called “treatment integrity” or “instructional fidelity.”

One method of promoting skill acquisition for students with autism is through the process of errorless teaching. Errorless teaching involves using prompts effectively and then systematically fading prompts to promote the student learning to emit the skill independently. You can watch a video describing errorless teaching procedures by viewing the errorless teaching video on the videos page under the area of Autism. Errorless teaching sequences are just one part of effective instructional practices. Here is an example of one treatment fidelity checklist for effective delivery of a discrete trial session that would include errorless teaching (noted as 0 second prompts):

Teacher: ______________________________ Date: ___________________________

Observer: _____________________________ Activity: _________________________

Area 1: Organization Area 3: Reinforcement
____ Instructional area is neat and clean ____ Delivers reinforcer quickly when instruction is complete
____ Has materials organized and ready ____ Follows appropriate VR schedule
____ Begins promptly/avoids wasted time ____ Differentially reinforces responses ____ Sr+ Reinforcer competes with Sr-/SrA+
Area 2: Instructional Delivery ____ Uses a variety of reinforcers
____ Establishes instructional control ____ Pairs social reinforcement w/ tangible items
____ Follows EO of student
____ Begins session with pairing/manding Area 4: Behavior Management
____ Positioned at child’s eye level ____ Correctly implements extinction procedures
____ Gives clear/discrete directions and prompts ____ Maintains composure during procedures
____ Tone of voice is natural ____ Accurately records behavior data
____ Appropriate level of enthusiasm ____ Implements effective antecedent interventions
____ Mixes verbal operants
____ Appropriate ratio of easy vs. difficult tasks (90% accuracy) Area 5: Error Correction
____ Uses errorless teaching with appropriate time delay ____ Re-states SD w/0 sec time delay after an error
____ Maintains fast pace of instruction (15-25 R/Min) ____ Uses transfer trial after prompted response
____ Uses transfer trial after prompted response ____ Returns to target several trials later
____ Teaches to fluency
____ Teachers uses prompts that reliably evoke the response Additional Comments: ________________________________
____ Ends session with manding ____________________________________________________
Rating: 1 = consistently 2 = Sometimes/inconsistently
3 = Not occurring N/A = Not applicable ____________________________________________________
Teaching Sample : Number of Responses per Minute- 15 Sec Timing

Teaching Sample: Number of Correct Responses per Minute- 1 Minute Timing
Correct Responses Errors

Note that he checklist allows an observer to see multiple aspects of the teaching process and allows providing objective feedback to teachers. Feedback to staff that is stated in objective language and specific terms is often more effective in helping teachers consistently deliver effective instruction than feedback that is provided in general or terms.

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