PS 385 Purdue University Targeted Topics in ABA Discussion


Setting the Scene:

Molly is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who provides services as an independent contractor for Orange County Public Schools. Molly received a referral from Pine Valley Elementary school to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for a 5th grader, Jake, who is non-compliant with teacher and staff demands. He is also physically aggressive to peers (hitting, kicking, and pushing). Jake has been suspended three times within the first six weeks of school. Thus far, all interventions have been ineffective. Jake’s mother reports that no significant problems are occurring at home and she cannot understand why these behaviors are occurring at school. Jake’s behaviors are not only occurring at school but also at the off-campus after school program. Due to these behaviors at the after school program, he is in danger of losing his placement.

The results of the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) determined that the probable function of Jake’s non-compliance and physical aggression were maintained by socially mediated attention from adults. Molly designed a behavior intervention plan (BIP) consisting of non-contingent attention in which the teacher would spend 2-minutes providing one-on-one attention to Jake upon his arrival to class, as well as a token economy in which Jake would be presented with a token at the end of each class period for the absence of physical aggression (Differential Reinforcement of Other (DRO) behavior). Jake could also earn a token for participation in a weekly social skills program in which he practices conflict resolution strategies with his classmates. The tokens earned could be exchanged for a variety of back-up reinforcers, including lunch with a preferred teacher, each Friday. This intervention plan resulted in a significant increase in compliance with teacher demands and reductions in physical aggression toward peers. Jake even earned a “Student of the Week” certificate 2-weeks in a row! Surprisingly, Jake’s mother reported that the non-compliance with adult demands and physical aggression towards peers at the after school program continued and a meeting has been called by the after school program directors to discuss Jake’s dismissal from the program.


  • Detail three approaches Molly could have incorporated into Jake’s behavior intervention plan (BIP) that would have increased the probability of the modified behaviors occurring in the after-school program environment, as well as other environments. Explain how these three approaches increase generalization of modified behavior.
  • Discuss why increasing generalization also increases the probability of response maintenance.

Guided Response Posts:

Respond to the first peer by explaining how the use of intermittent schedules of reinforcement and delayed responding can promote generalization.

Respond to the second peer by explaining two approaches to “waking up” an existing, but inoperable, reinforcement contingency.

Reading and Resources

Read the following:

Chapter 30 in Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd edition): “Generalization and Maintenance of Behavior Change”

Response maintenance and generalization training are explained. The importance of programming for maintenance and generalization within behavior intervention plans (BIPs) is presented, along with approaches for programming. Within this discussion is an exploration of the five guiding principles for promoting generalized outcomes.


Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Hewerd, W.L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd ed.)

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