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Implementing Applied Behavior Analysis at Scales of Social Significance. Rob Horner and George Sugai University of Oregon- University of Connecticut Goals. Define an expanded role for ABA in our society Focus on large-scale implementation

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implementing applied behavior analysis at scales of social significance

Implementing Applied Behavior Analysis at Scales of Social Significance

Rob Horner and George Sugai

University of Oregon- University of Connecticut

  • Define an expanded role for ABA in our society
    • Focus on large-scale implementation
  • Use School-wide Positive Behavior Support as one example of large-scale implementation
expanding the contributions of applied behavior analysis
Expanding the Contributions of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • The value of a science of human behavior
    • Basic principles that help us describe, interpret and establish effective patterns of behavior
  • Applications
    • Schools
    • Families
    • Medicine
    • Business
    • Social Systems
  • While behavior analysis is among the most powerful tools for achieving social change, too often ABA is viewed as relevant only within a narrow range of applications
      • Developmental disabilities, Autism (ASD)
        • Aggression, Self-injury, Severe Disability
      • “There is little doubt that behavior analysis as a field is somewhat beleaguered…”
        • J.E.R. Staddon, 2004 (Behavior Analyst)
      • Behavior analysis has been examined and rejected by the main elements of our society…
        • Todd Risley, 2002 (National Conference)
six key features to achieve large scale application of evidence based practices
Six Key Features to AchieveLarge-scale Application of Evidence-based Practices
  • 1. Focus on comprehensive outcomes defined by the values of the social system
  • 2. Expand the unit of analysis
  • 3. Measure processas well as outcome
  • 4. Make ABA principles more accessible
  • 5. Focus on sustained effects
  • 6. Define procedures for scaling-up effective practices.
positive behavior support
Positive Behavior Support
  • Focus on change in lifestyle as well as reduction in problem behavior
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Antecedent-based, as well as consequence-based, intervention (Prevention)
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Multi-component/ Multi-method Interventions
  • Data-based decision-making
“Were it not for the past 35 years of research in applied behavior analysis, PBS could not have come into existence.”
      • Carr et al., 2002
“…a great deal of PBS is applied behavior analysis, and it is acknowledged that the practices of many behavior analysts are fully consistent with PBS.”
      • Dunlap, 2004
what is school wide positive behavior support
What isSchool-wide Positive Behavior Support?
  • School-wide PBS is:
      • A systems approach for establishing the social culture and individualized behavioral supports needed for schools to achieve both social and academic success while preventing problem behavior
  • Evidence-based features of SW-PBS
      • Prevention
      • Define and teach positive social expectations
      • Acknowledge positive behavior
      • Arrange consistent consequences for problem behavior
      • On-going collection and use of data for decision-making
      • Continuum of intensive, individual interventions.
      • Administrative leadership – Team-based implementation (Systems that support effective practices)
school wide positive behavior support current implementation
School-wide Positive Behavior Support:Current Implementation
  • School-wide Positive Behavior Support
  • 5600 schools in 40 states
      • Team
      • Coach
      • Curriculum emphasizing prevention: Define and teach appropriate social behavior to all students
      • Formal system for rewarding appropriate behavior
      • Intensive, individual interventions based on behavioral function
      • On-going data collection and use of data for active decision-making

Tertiary Prevention:



Systems for Students with High-Risk Behavior





Secondary Prevention:

Specialized Group

Systems for Students with At-Risk Behavior


Primary Prevention:


Wide Systems for

All Students,

Staff, & Settings


~80% of Students

school wide pbs
School-wide PBS
  • 1. Focus on comprehensive valued outcomes
      • Social competence
      • Academic achievement
      • Safety
  • 2. Expand the unit of analysis
    • Whole school
      • Classroom
        • Groups of “at-risk” students
          • Individual students needing intensive support
school wide pbs13
School-wide PBS
  • 3. Measurement
    • Include both process and outcome measures
      • Outcomes: Office Discipline Referrals/Academics
      • Process (implementation): Team Checklist
      • Research: System-wide Evaluation Tool (SET)
    • Distinguish between measurement for science and measurement for social implementation


TIC data

NC Beh

SET data

school wide pbs14
School-wide PBS
  • 4. Make Evidence-based Practices Accessible
    • Use the language of the implementation context
    • Combine technologies needed to achieve valued outcomes.
      • ABA + Person-centered planning + Organizational Systems + Bio-Medical
    • Collaborate with other disciplines
      • Mental Health, Juvenile Justice, School Psychology, Sociology
    • Study implementation as well as application
      • Function-based intervention
      • Contextual fit






school wide pbs15
School-wide PBS
  • 5. Implement to produce sustained effects
      • Define conditions for implementation
      • Implement to high fidelity
      • Embed policies, contingencies to support implementation
      • Establish tools that reduce cost of implementation in subsequent years.
      • Embed strategies for continuous regeneration
        • Iterative measurement
        • Use of data for decision-making and adaptation

FRMS Longitudinal

school wide pbs16
School-wide PBS
  • 6. Define practices for scaling up
      • Effectiveness
      • Efficacy
  • Documentation via randomized control-group Design
    • Provide research outcomes that address multiple audiences
      • Families
      • Administrators
      • Teachers
      • Scientist from all disciplines

Scale Model



90 School study

  • Never stop development of the rigorous, precise science of human behavior.
  • Expand the unit of analysis to address socially relevant outcomes
    • Address the full set of outcomes defined as important for a context
  • Expand the research methods/questions to address socially important concerns.
    • Sustainability
    • Scalability
  • Combine technologies to address societal needs (match societal outcomes, and scale)
  • Build on our commitment to (a) measurement of behavior, and (b) application of basic behavioral principles.