Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Keith Radley III

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Daniel Tingstrom

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Brad Dufrene

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Evan Dart

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Abstract

Resurgence is the reoccurrence of a previously reinforced behavior when, under similar circumstances, a more recently reinforced behavior is placed on extinction (Epstein, 1985). The resurgence of problem behavior within the context of functional communication training (FCT) may occur when reinforcement is inadvertently thinned or placed on extinction due to low implementation integrity throughout the course of the intervention (Lieving et al., 2004). Techniques evaluated to mitigate resurgence of problem behavior have included long-term exposure to extinction (Wacker et al., 2011), signaled schedule thinning (Fuhrman, Fisher, and Greer, 2016), and a combination of both techniques (Wacker et al., 2013). These studies, however, have demonstrated varied results. Training multiple mand modalities may be a way to program for generalization, by increasing a child’s response repertoire. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effects of training multiple mands on the resurgence of problem behavior after implementing FCT in a school setting and the social validity of conducting the assessments and interventions in this context as reported by school staff. Three students ages 15, 7, and 5 years, developmental disabilities and exhibiting communication deficits and problem behaviors were trained on an initial mand to gain access to a reinforcer. After resurgence was demonstrated following extinction of the initial mand, participants were taught two additional, functionally identical, mand modalities. A reversal design was used to evaluate differences in the resurgence of problem behavior when a participant’s preferred mand is placed on extinction but the additional two are available. A reduction in the resurgence of problem behaviors was observed for two of three participants following mand2 and mand3 training. In addition, an increase in rates of non-preferred mands was observed for two of three participants during extinction phases. It was concluded that, within classroom settings, training multiple mand modalities serving the same function is likely to reduce the resurgence of students’ problem behaviors to a greater degree than teaching one mand within FCT. Implications, future directions, and limitations are discussed.

ORCID ID

0000-0002-3210-8345

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