Procedural integrity is the extent to which an intervention is implemented as intended (e.g., Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). There are a few other terms that have been used interchangeably with procedural integrity including treatment fidelity, treatment integrity and procedural fidelity. All of the above terms relate to the same basic theme: evidence based interventions should be applied as written to the greatest extent possible in order to achieve desired outcomes.
At the QSAC Day School and Preschool we prioritize the procedural integrity of our teaching procedures as part of our schoolwide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). Our PBIS framework includes 13 evidence based proactive/preventative strategies for increasing our students’ prosocial skills and improving overall behavior. Procedural integrity of teaching procedures may be the most important of these strategies. In order for our teaching procedures to be effective, they must be implemented correctly. In order to ensure this, we employ Behavioral Skills Training (BST).
BST is an evidence based practice for disseminating behavior analytic skills to caregivers of varying backgrounds and experience levels (Dib and Sturmey, 2007; Ryan, Hemmes, Sturmey, Jacobs, & Grommet, 2007; Sarokoff and Sturmey, 2004; Seiverling, Pantelides, Ruiz, & Sturmey, 2010; Ward-Horner & Sturmey, 2008). BST packages generally consist of four components: 1) instructions, 2) modeling, 3) rehearsal, 4) feedback. At the QSAC schools, we are continually in the process of creating BST packages in order to effectively train our staff members to implement teaching procedures correctly. This process involves two basic steps. First, we break down each of our teaching procedures into multi-step behavior chains. The process of breaking down chains of behavior into their component steps is called task analysis. The task analyses developed make up the “instructions” component of the BST package. The next step in the creation of our BST packages involves the creation of a model for each teaching procedure. We typically create video models by recording experienced staff members implementing procedures correctly with our students. We then edit these recordings by adding freeze frames and embedded text to highlight important aspects of the models and make it easier for staff members to match what they see in the model with the task analyzed instructions. These recordings make up the “model” component of the BST package.
Once the necessary materials for the BST package are complete, training for a targeted teaching procedure can begin. At the QSAC Day School, our Director and our ABA coordinators train all new staff members to implement our teaching procedures using BST packages. At the QSAC Preschool, our teachers use BST to train their new teaching assistants to implement these procedures, while our Director and ABA coordinators train only new teachers. Training begins when the trainer provides the trainee with the task analysis for the targeted teaching procedure. The trainer then provides the trainee with a model of the procedure either by presenting a video model, or by performing a live model. The trainee checks off the steps of the teaching procedure on his/her task analysis as they watch the model. The trainer then observes the trainee rehearse the teaching procedure several times and provides the trainee with immediate feedback on their performance errors. These rehearsal and feedback sessions continue until the trainee meets a predetermined competency level and is able to implement the procedure independently. At both QSAC school programs, we manage an extensive database of each staff member’s training and his/her competency levels in implementing our teaching procedures. Staff competence is an important measure of school program quality. At the QSAC schools we strive to maintain a high quality program by ensuring the procedural integrity of all of our teaching procedures as part of our schoolwide PBIS system.
Lindsay Maffei-Almodovar, MS Ed, MA, BCBA, has worked in the field special education since 2001. She joined Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) in 2011 and is currently the ABA Training & Development Coordinator. She is responsible for designing, evaluating and monitoring staff training initiatives at both the preschool and Day School programs. Lindsay is a certified New York State Early Childhood General & Special Education Teacher and a Licensed Behavior Analyst. Lindsay is also a doctoral student in the Behavior Analysis Training Area of the Psychology Department at Queens College and The Graduate Center City University of New York (CUNY). Her research focuses on efficient methods of training staff members in evidence based behavior analytic procedures.
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