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The assessment and development of higher-order thinking skills using a computer-aided and video program to teach preference assessment for teachers of children with autism

Grant number: 13/19625-0
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: March 11, 2014 - July 25, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Principal Investigator:Antonio Celso de Noronha Goyos
Grantee:Antonio Celso de Noronha Goyos
Visiting researcher: Darlene Eleanor Crone-Todd
Visiting researcher institution: Salem State University, United States
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


The defining feature of higher education, and effective interventions on the part of staff, is the use of critical, or higher-order, thinking. However, few methods of assessment are reliable, making validity of the measures impossible. However, recent research indicates that a model of hierarchical complexity can be used in a way that is reliable, and therefore potentially valid. An important global area of education that is increasingly important is in developing training for those working with individuals on the autism spectrum. In this proposed research-based project, two studies are proposed that are expected to lead to innovations in both the development and assessment of training materials to teach professionals and caregivers how to conduct preference assessments in applied behavior analysis. Preference assessments are an important cornerstone of applied behavior analysis (ABA), since identifying what will work effectively as a reinforcer in intensive interventions is an ongoing process that underlies the success of these programs. ABA programs are necessarily designed as intensive programs in which professionals work closely with a client or student for 20-40 hours per week. Where possible, the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome is within a few years. Better outcomes are more likely to lead to the children being able to be reintegrated into regular classrooms, and becoming productive members of their society. In areas where ABA programs are provided, they are typically overseen by individuals who are credentialed by as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, which is overseen by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Currently, there is a serious shortage of individuals in Brazil who have expertise in the ABA area, let alone certified by the BACB. Given this shortage, it is very important to develop programs that result in demonstrable outcomes that lead to trained professionals who can effectively administer ABA interventions with children with autism in Brazil. The research, which follows up on research previously conducted in Canada and the United States, in this area will be conducted at the Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos with undergraduate and graduate students in two phases: (a) In Study 1, we first train students in the scoring method; and (b) in Study 2, we use the materials from previous research and Study 1 to carry out a study which will evaluate the effects of both online and video methods of presentation. (AU)

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