Easy Data Collection for the Classroom

This week we have an introduction to our newest book from one of the authors, Sam Blanco PHD, LBA, BCBA. ABA Tools of the Trade is available now!

 

From the beginning of my career, I have loved data collection. Not only does it help me track what interventions are working and how quickly my students are learning, it also provides excellent structure and organization of what needs to be done on a daily basis. Much of this love of data collection was influenced by my colleague Val Demiri. While Val and I both looked at data as a way to make our lives easier, for many of our colleagues, data appeared to be more of an obstacle than a useful tool. So we set out to change that.

 

We’re both so thrilled about the release of ABA Tools of the Trade: Easy Data Collection for the Classroom. Our goal is to make data collection easier, more useful, and possible considering the many tasks a teacher is already doing on a daily basis in their classroom. Here are few things we’re really excited to have in the book:

 

  • An overview of some of our favorite tools for data collection, including why we love them and when they might be useful for you

 

  • An easy-to-use guide based on the specific behavior challenges you are currently facing, with suggestions for data collection and recommended readings

 

  • A task analysis of the data collection process that breaks down each step for pre-data collection phase, data collection phase, and post-data collection phase

 

  • A wealth of strategies to use to address problem behavior before they occur

 

  • An entire section devoted to BCBA Supervision that not only aligns with Task List 5 but also contains lesson plans and rubrics for assessing supervisees

 

We hope that by making data collection methods more accessible, we can motivate you to appreciate tools for data collection as much as we do!


WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, PhD, LBA, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. She is also an assistant professor in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

Ethics Part One: Data Collection and The Right to Effective Treatment

In the next few weeks I will be writing about ethics in the field of applied behavior analysis. This is the first part in a multi-part series.

Sometimes behavior analysts get a bad rap because we are so focused on the data. Somehow, there is a perception that writing down the numbers and graphing the information is “cold” or “unfeeling” towards the client. Over the course of my career, I’ve had more than one person say to me that I was more fun or more playful than they expected me to be as a behavior analyst. I’m not exactly sure where these misperceptions started, but today I want to get to the root of them.
As a BCBA, I am bound by the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Within this code, it clearly states “Clients have a right to effective treatment.” This is something I take to heart every day in my work. And it’s the primary reason that I have my clipboard and am taking data. I want to ensure that the treatment I am introducing is actually effective. My data is what shows me when something is clearly not working, and allows me to be efficient with making changes the best benefit my client.
Clear, objective data allows me to be responsive to data and provide information in a responsible manner. Here are a few things to consider:
• When I graph data daily and look at that information, it’s very easy for me to see if a client’s performance has plateaued, is improving, or is actually getting worse. I can make adjustments based on the trend in the data.
• When all practitioners working with the client graph daily, I might (as the supervisor) see that the client is not performing as well with one practitioner. This might indicate that more training needs to occur. Or, I might see that one practitioner is getting far better results than the others. This might indicate that the practitioner is not recording data correctly or is doing something as part of the intervention that everyone should be doing.
• Data should be collected daily and the teaching programs should be clearly outlined. This way, if for some reason a practitioner abruptly stops working with the client or if the client moves, it is much easier for future practitioners to pick up where the last ones left off.
• Looking at data daily gives an idea of the individual client’s general trends in mastering new skills. For instance, last year I had a client who generally mastered new skills within one week, and his trend in the data was very consistent across all types of skills. So if we introduced a new program and he wasn’t mastering it for three weeks, it was an indication that we needed to re-evaluate what we were teaching or how we were teaching it. Being well-versed in your individual client’s learning patterns allows you to more clearly make individualized decisions!
We’d love to hear from you. What outcomes have you discovered in the relationship between being responsive to data and providing effective treatment for your clients?


WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, PhD, LBA, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. She is also an assistant professor in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

Focus on Generalization and Maintenance

On more than one occasion, I’ve been in the situation that a student will only demonstrate a skill in my presence. And I’ve heard from other colleagues that they have had similar experiences. This is highly problematic. When it happens with one of my students, there is only one person I can blame: myself.  A skill that a student can only demonstrate in my presence is a pretty useless skill and does nothing to promote independence.

So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? You reteach, with a focus on generalization. This means that, from the very beginning, you are teaching with a wide variety of materials, varying your instructions, asking other adults to help teach the skill, and demonstrating its use in a variety of environments. Preparing activities takes more time on the front-end for the teacher, but saves a ton of time later because your student is more likely to actually master the skill. (Generalization, after all, does show true mastery.)

Hopefully, you don’t have to do this, though. Hopefully, you’ve focused on generalization from the first time you taught the skill. You may see generalization built into materials you already use, such as 300-Noun List at AVB press.

Another commonly cited issue teachers of children with autism encounter is failure to maintain a skill. In my mind, generalization and maintenance go hand-in-hand, in that they require you to plan ahead and consider how, when, and where you will practice acquired skills. Here are a few tips that may help you with maintenance of skills:

  • Create notecards of all mastered skills. During the course of a session, go through the notecards and set aside any missed questions or activities. You might need to do booster sessions on these. (This can also be an opportunity for extending generalization by presenting the questions with different materials, phrases, environments, or people.)
  • Set an alert on your phone to remind you to do a maintenance test two weeks, four weeks, and eight weeks after the student has mastered the skill.
  • Create a space on your data sheets for maintenance tasks to help you remember not only to build maintenance into your programs, but also to take data on maintenance.

Considering generalization and maintenance from the outset of any teaching procedure is incredibly important. Often, when working with students with special needs, we are working with students who are already one or more grade levels behind their typically developing peers. Failing to teach generalization and maintenance, then having to reteach, is a waste of your students’ time.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College. She is also a lecturer in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

 

 

Tip of the Week: Measure Group Behavior in the Classroom

Many classroom teachers are required to take data on the behavior of their students. However, this can feel like a daunting task given the many things teachers are trying to do simultaneously throughout the day! PLACHECK is a simple way to measure group behavior in the classroom for engagement or attention.

PLACHECK is short for Planned Activity Check. Let’s say that Ms. Esterman is using a partner activity for a math lesson for the first time in her fourth grade classroom. She wants to see if the kids remain engaged with the content during the partner activity. Here is how she can implement PLACHECK to collect data on engagement.

  1. Measure Group Behavior in the ClassroomSet a MotivAider for a predetermined interval (learn more about the MotivAider). The partner activity Ms. Esterman has organized will take a total of ten minutes. She decides to set the MotivAider for 2 minute intervals.
  2. At the start of the lesson, set the MotivAider to run and clip it to your waistband. For Ms. Esterman, the MotivAider will vibrate every two minutes to signal her to observe her students.
  3. When the MotivAider vibrates, collect tally data. Ms. Esterman feels the MotivAider vibrate, then quickly counts the number of students who are engaged in the partner activity.
  4. Continue to do this for each interval.
  5. Graph your data.

Ms. Esterman’s graph looks like this for her 24 students:

PLACHECK Graph 1

The next day, Ms. Esterman does a similar activity with her students, but uses an independent activity instead of a partner activity. She uses the same 5 steps to use PLACHECK to measure student engagement in the independent activity. Now she can easily compare engagement between the two types of activities. You can see both days graphed below:

PLACHECK Graph 2

When she compares the two days, she finds these results, and it allows her to make better decisions about what types of activities might work best for the individuals in her classroom. Here, it is clear that between these two activities, her students were more likely to be on task during partner work. However, Ms. Esterman would attain better results by taking more data.

PLACHECK is simple to implement. Ms. Esterman is able to collect this data in less than two minutes each day and can learn a lot from just that brief time.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College. She is also a lecturer in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

Data Sheets Now Available for Hooray for Play!

I get pretty excited about pretend play and it isn’t unusual for me to engage colleagues at length in a conversation about how it can be incorporated into a learner’s home program using naturalistic behavioral methods. I can go on and on about all of the various play schemas that can be taught, my observations regarding which play schemas are of the greatest interest to the learner’s peer group at the moment, and regular items from around the house that can be incorporated as props.

The Hooray for Play! cards break down all of this information into a framework that is easy to reference and remember. Additionally, the simple illustrations provide visual stimuli to facilitate conversation about various schemas, to prime a student before play begins, or to help facilitate choice during pretend play. However, it isn’t long into our conversation when my colleagues ask, “What about the data?” Of course, this is where the conversation ends up because in an ABA program, all decisions are data-driven and based on observable and clearly defined target behaviors. However, with something as fluid as pretend play, it can sometimes feel a bit daunting to break the play down into smaller parts without scripting it completely.

The Hooray for Play! Data Sheets allow for the most salient elements of a play schema to be taught while still leaving room for variation and flexibility, which can be critical when generalizing to peers. Additionally, the targets are not predetermined so that they can be individualized for the learner. Below, you will find an example of the data sheet with some rows filled in to illustrate what it might look like. A blank version is also available in the set, so that it can be individualized for a specific learner.

HoorayForPlay_DataSheets_Example

There are a variety of techniques founded in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis that are effective in increasing and improving play skills. Research-based procedures can range from very structured to more naturalistic and should be chosen based on an approach best suited for the learner.

Some examples include:

  • Video Modeling
  • Play Scripts
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  • Peer Training

References:
Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30 (6), 537-552.

Goldstein, H. & Cisar, C.L. (1992). Promoting interaction during sociodramatic play: teaching scripts to typical preschoolers and classmates with disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 265–80.

Koegel, L.K., Koegel, R.L., Harrower, J.K. & Carter, C.M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention. I: Overview of approach. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 25, 174-85.

Stahmer, A.C. (1999). Using pivotal response training to facilitate appropriate play in children with autistic spectrum disorders. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 15, 29–40.

Pierce, K. & Schreibman, L. (1997). Using peer trainers to promote social behavior in autism: Are they effective at enhancing multiple social modalities? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 12, 207–18.

Pick of the Week: The ABA Graphing CD

ABA, Discrete Trial Teaching, Verbal Behavior Analysis, Natural Environment Teaching, and Incidental Teaching Programs share one necessary common feature: Data collection and analysis! The process of translating collected data to interpretable, organized, meaningful visual displays can be a daunting, time consuming task for behavior analysts, parents, and teachers. The ABA Graphing CD will help you save time while making professional behavioral graphs. It contains a preformatted Excel™ spreadsheet for 30 ABA programs; a step-by-step guide describing and showing screen shots; a daily Data Sheet; Monthly Data Sheet; and ASAP™ Preference Assessment Form.
The preformatted spreadsheet allows you to enter data for up to 30 different ABA programs. Entered data automatically updates an individualized graph for that program and instantly produces high quality behavioral graphs. Each program is preformatted for three different steps. The CD is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

This week only, save 15% on the ABA Graphing CD by entering the Promo Code BLOGABAG at checkout.

*Offer expires on March 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.