Midlands Technical College


Unit III Outline




Reinforcing successive approximations of a target behavior and extinguishing previous approximations of the behavior, until the target behavior appears


Initial Behavior

Behavior that resembles the target behavior along some meaningful dimension, and occurs with some frequency

Intermediate Behavior

Behavior that more closely approximates the target behavior

Shaping with Reinforcement

Reinforcing only the behavior that more closely resembles the target behavior


Identify the initial behavior

Reinforce the initial behavior until established

Select another behavior more closely resembling the target behavior and reinforce it

Stop reinforcing the previous behavior

Continue until target behavior occurs

Keys to Success:

The behavior being reinforced must be well established before moving to the next

Reinforcer must be presented immediately after behavior occurs

Shaping Applications:

Establishing a novel behavior

Reinstating a previously occurring behavior

Changing a dimension of a behavior:







Target Behavior

Clearly defined on all dimensions

Identify conditions for the behavior to occur identified

Determine appropriateness of method used

Starting behavior

Relevance to target behavior

Is it established?

Intermediate Behaviors

Consider similarity to target behavior

Consider level of mastery

Consider change in difficulty between steps


Generalized conditioned reinforcers are best

Consider immediacy and contingency

Differential Reinforcement

Stop reinforcing previous step when next step is achieved


Enhanced by instructions and prompting


Development of problematic behaviors

Unintentional shaping

Fixed Outcome Shaping

Level of reinforcer stays constant

Variable Outcome Shaping

Level of reinforcer changes

Stimulus Control

Guarantees the behavior occurs in the right circumstances at right times

Main techniques:




Increases the likelihood a person will engage in the correct behavior at the correct time

Occurs before or during the target behavior

Function is to produce a correct instance of the behavior so a reinforcer can be delivered


Involves removing the prompt so that the behavior comes under control of the SD

Allows the behavior to occur without prompts

Prompting and Fading

Prompting gets the behavior started

Fading transfers stimulus control to the appropriate SD

Prompt Types

Response Prompts:

Another personís behavior elicits the correct response

May be intrusive or controlling

Use least intrusive prompt that is effective

Response Prompts:

Verbal Prompts

Includes instructions, rules, reminders

Is least intrusive

Gestural Prompts

Any physical movement short of modeling

Moderately low intrusiveness

Response Prompts:

Modeling Prompt

Demonstrate the entire behavior

Moderately high in intrusiveness

Physical Prompt

Provide direct physical assistance

High in intrusiveness

Stimulus Prompts

The SD changes in some ways to make it more salient

Within-Stimulus Prompt

A physical dimension of the stimulus changes

Extra-Stimulus Prompt

A stimulus is added to the SD

Fading Types

Prompt Fading

Gradually removing the prompt

Two types:

Fading within a prompt

Less and less of a prompt is used

Fading across a prompt

Certain prompts are removed and others remain

Fading across prompts

Two types:

Least-to-most prompting and fading

Prompts presented from least to most intrusive

Prompts removed from most to least intrusive

Most-to-least prompting and fading

Most intrusive prompt is presented first

Fading involves using less intrusive prompts

Prompt Delay

Delaying the time between the SD and the prompt

Delay is fixed or progressive

Allows response to occur without a prompt

Stimulus Fading

Used to return SD to its original condition

Extra-stimulus Prompt

Gradually remove the additional stimulus

Within-stimulus Prompt

Remove the modification from the SD

Prompting Guidelines

Choose appropriate strategy

What fits the learner?

What fits the task?

Why is the behavior not occurring?

Get learnerís attention

Effectiveness of a prompt depends on level of attention

Reinforcement can increase attention

Present the SD

Only prompt in the presence of the SD

Prompt the correct response

Add something once the SD appears

Change the SD

Reinforce correct behavior

Modify reinforcer when fading

Transfer Stimulus Control

Begin fading as soon as possible

Fading should be gradual

Reinforce Unprompted Responses

Initially us continuous reinforcement

Later switch to an intermittent schedule


Behavioral Chain

A complex behavior consisting of many behaviors occurring together

A series of stimulus-response events

The chain is under stimulus control

The chain may be influenced by establishing operations

Task Analysis

Identifying and sequencing the individual stimulus-response components of a chain


Observation and recording

Expert description


Chaining Procedures

Backward Chaining

Teaching the chain from the end to the beginning

Forward Chaining

Teaching the chain from beginning to end

Comparing techniques:

Both use prompting and fading

Backward provides faster access to the natural reinforcer

Total Task Presentation

Behavioral chain is taught all at once

Reinforcement depends on completing entire chain

Prompt often involves graduated guidance

Written Task Analysis

Written instructions are used to guide the behavior

Picture Prompts

Learner follows sequentially ordered pictures

Pictures have stimulus control


Learner gives themselves instructions

Instructions have stimulus control

Steps In Chaining

Choose most appropriate procedure

Develop a task analysis

Obtain a baseline measurement

Choose chaining method

Implement chaining procedure

Continue reinforcement to maintain behavior

Behavioral Skills Training

Four Components:






Demonstrating a behavior for a learner


Effectiveness depends on:

Reinforcement of model

Model status

Developmental ability


Appropriateness of modeling environment

Frequency of modeling

Latency to imitation


Describing behavior, context, consequences

Effectiveness depends on:

Learnerís ability level

Source credibility

Latency to rehearsal

Use of modeling


Assimilation of instructions


The learner practices the behavior

Most effective when:

Context promotes generalization

Success comes easily

Reinforcement is provided

Repetition is encouraged


Delivery of reinforcers or corrective instructions

Most effective when:

Given immediately

Provides some praise

Is descriptive

Is instructive

Precede by praise



Moving from role play to real life

Occurs when:

Appropriate training environment used

Real life situations included

Outside practice is assigned

Reinforcers are delivered outside of practice

Three-Term Contingency:

1. Antecedent


2. Behavior


3. Consequence


Behavioral Skills Training


Define behaviors

Identify appropriate Situations

Establish a baseline

Teach easiest parts first

Model in appropriate context

Provide rehearsal/feedback

Train in different situations

Program for generalization