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terminal behavior and shaping, extinction

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Clarify terms: terminal behavior and shaping, extinction. In about 200 hundred words each.

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1. Terminal Behavior and Shaping

The process of shaping is used when the response is not currently in the person's repertoire and used as an intervention. It is important to remember that we shape responses, not people. The baseline behavior is the operant level or the frequency of responding before reinforcement. On the other hand, the terminal behavior is the behavior NOT in the repertoire or not occurring at the desired rate. The terminal behavior is the desired behavior i.e. child to sit in her seat for 20 minutes. It is the goal of the intervention. (1)

Shaping is used when an existing behavior needs to be changed into a more appropriate or new behavior or skill. Shaping involves the use of reinforcement of successive approximations of a desired behavior, which is the terminal behavior of the process. In the shaping process using differential reinforcement of successive approximations, each approximate desired behavior that occurs is reinforced (see example below) (2) When shaping behavior, we look for initial behaviors and intermediate behaviors. The initial behavior is behavior that resembles the terminal behavior along some meaningful dimension (i.e. sitting in the seat for 2 minutes) and occurs with at least a minimal frequency; whereas the intermediate behaviors are behavior that more closely approximates the terminal behavior (i.e. sitting in her seat for 15 minutes) (1)

EXAMPLE: Shaping and terminal behavior (excerpt)

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Solution Summary

Clarifies the following terms: terminal behavior and shaping, extinction. References are provided.

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Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan

Part 1: Select a Target Behavior. Use a friend, spouse, significant other, or your own child as a model. Define and clearly state the behavior to be changed in operational terms. Identify the terminal behavior and the expectations. This will keep the report aligned with expected outcomes and prevent reinforcement of unrelated or negative behaviors. Identify incremental behaviors if needed. Positive targets are desirable (e.g., increasing desired behavior versus decreasing behavior).

Part 2: Collect Baseline Information. Obtain a baseline of behavior prior to implementing the program by using a tally or a chart. Collect descriptive or quantitative data on intensity and/or frequency as appropriate. Collecting baseline data makes it possible to determine the effects of reinforcement as well as to identify changes in behavior.

Part 3: Identify a Reinforcer. What will the student receive throughout the process for exhibiting the desired behavior, and then upon reaching the goal? Remember, the reinforcer must be appealing to the student if he/she is expected to work to obtain it. Reinforcement should be individualized to the student and may be primary (tangible) or secondary (social). Internal or self-dispensed reinforcement can be used as long as the reinforcer is clearly defined.

Part 4: Develop a Behavior Change Program. What are the contingencies? Describe the learning situation. Arrange the environment so the desirable behavior will occur. Identify the method and schedule of reinforcement. Possible behavior change methods include: shaping, modeling, contingency contracting, token economy, extinction, time-out, desensitization, and punishment. Schedules include: fixed/variable, interval/ratio. Positive interventions are the most desirable. Set a realistic and specific goal slightly above baseline. State your goal in measurable terms.

Part 5: Implement the Behavior Change Program and Establish and Maintain Records. Maintain ongoing records of the target behavior to determine whether the response length or frequency has increased or decreased. Organize and chart in the same manner as the baseline data. Maintain some anecdotal records regardless of the data gathering method.

Part 6: Evaluate and Modify the Intervention. Analyze collected information. Compare baseline and intervention data to determine if the program has accomplished the goal. If progress is unsatisfactory, then change reinforcers or procedures. Use data to make changes in the program. Gradually eliminate reinforcement and/or prompts as appropriate.

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