PSYB45H3 Study Guide - Vending Machine, Forward Chaining, Backward Chaining
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Examples of Behavioral Chains
Analyzing Stimulus-Response Chains
Total Task Presentation
Other Strategies for Teaching Behavioral Chains
Written Task Analysis
How to Use Chaining Procedures
1. Determine whether a chaining procedure is most appropriate.
2. Develop a task analysis.
3. Get a baseline assessment of the learner’s ability.
4. Choose the chaining method you will use.
5. Implement the chaining procedure.
6. Continue reinforcement after the task has been learned
Chapter 11, Quiz 1
Chapter 11, Quiz 2
Chapter 11, Quiz 3
Ideas for Class activities
1. Engage in a simple 3 or 4 step chain of behaviors in front of the class. Have the class write a task analysis of the
behavioral chain indicating each SD and response in the chain. Repeat with another chain of behaviors.
2. Engage the students in a role play in which you play the role of trainer and a student plays the role of a learner.
Use backward chaining, forward chaining, and total task presentation to teach the chain of behaviors you had just
demonstrated in class. Reverse roles and have students play the role of trainer and conduct the procedures in a role
Answers to Practice Test Questions
1. A stimulus-response chain, also called a behavioral chain, consists of a number of stimulus-response
components that occur together in a sequence. For example, making a telephone call and purchasing a candy bar
from a vending machine are both examples of stimulus response chains.
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2. To make a telephone call: (1) In the room with the phone - walk to the telephone, (2) while at the phone -
remove the receiver from the unit, (3) with the receiver in you hand - put the receiver to your ear, and (4) with the
receiver to your ear - dial the desired telephone number. To get a candy bar from the vending machine: (1) in the
room with the vending machine - walk to the vending machine, (2) while in front of the vending machine - take
the appropriate amount of change from your pocket, purse, etc., (3) with coins in hand - place the coins in the
appropriate slot, (4) once coins are in the slot - push the button which represents your selection, and (5) with the
candy bar dropped into the deliver chute - remove the candy bar from the delivery chute.
3. A task analysis is the process of analyzing a behavioral chain by breaking it down into its individual stimulus-
response components. It is important to conduct a task analysis because teaching a task to an individual involves
discrimination training with each stimulus-response component of the behavioral chain. A detailed task analysis
gives you an accurate understanding of each stimulus-response component.
4. The following represents a task analysis of the behavior of pouring water from a pitcher into a glass:
1. SD1 - Pitcher of water and glass on table ---> R1 - pick up the pitcher with right hand
2. SD2 - Pitcher in right hand, glass on table ---> R2 - pick up glass with left hand
3. SD3 - Pitcher in right hand, glass in left hand ---> R3 pour water into glass
4. SD4 - glass full of water in left hand, pitcher in right ---> R4 place pitcher back on table
5. With backward chaining, you use prompting and fading to teach the last behavior in the chain first. Once the
last behavior is mastered (the learner exhibits the behavior when the SD is presented without any prompts), you
teach the next to last behavior. Once this behavior is mastered and the learner engages in the last two behaviors in
the chain without any prompts, the next behavior up the chain is taught. This process continues until the learner
can exhibit the whole chain of behaviors when presented with the first SD without any prompts.
6. To use backward chaining for the task identified in question 4, you would place the pitcher in the learner’s right
hand and a glass full of water in the left hand (SD4), then prompt (using the least intrusive prompt necessary) the
correct response of placing the pitcher on the table (R4), providing praise when the learner has done so. Once the
learner starts to execute the response himself you begin to fade the prompt until he completes R4 independently,
then back up the chain and teach the third component. To do so, you place the pitcher of water in the learner’s
right hand, the empty glass in the right (SD3). From there you prompt the learner to pour the water from the
pitcher into the glass (R3), then provide praise. Once the water has been poured (pitcher is in right hand, glass full
of water in left = SD4) the learner will place the pitcher on the table (R4) because he has already learned to do so in
the presence of SD4. You then gradually fade the prompt used to evoke the behavior of pouring water until the
learner completes R3 independently. Once the third and fourth components of the chain have been mastered,
begin teaching the second component. Place the pitcher of water in the learner’s right hand, and the empty glass
on the table (SD2). Then prompt the learner to pick up the empty glass with his left hand (R2), and praise him for
doing so. When pitcher and glass are in hand (SD3), the learner will automatically pour the water into the glass
(R3) because that behavior was previously reinforced. You then gradually fade the prompt until the learner
consistently picks the empty glass up with his left hand without any prompting. Now that the second, third, and
fourth components of the chain have been mastered, it is time to teach the first step in the chain. You place the
pitcher of water and empty glass on the table (SD1), then prompt the learner to pick up the pitcher with his right
hand (R1), praising him when he does so. At that point SD2 has been presented, and the learner will therefore
complete the remainder of the task. Once you fade the prompts, the learner will execute the steps necessary to pour
a glass of water whenever he sees the pitcher of water and empty glass on the table and he is thirsty.
7. In forward chaining, you teach the first component, then the second component, and so on, moving from the
front of the chain to the end during training.
8. In using forward chaining to teach the task presented in question 4, you would begin by placing the pitcher of
water and empty glass on the table (SD1), prompting the correct response of picking up the pitcher with the right
hand, then providing a reinforcer, such as praise. You then fade your prompts until the individual is picking up
the pitcher with his right hand without any prompts when the pitcher and glass are placed on the table. To train
the second component, you place the pitcher and empty glass on the table (SD1) and the learner will pick up the
pitcher with his right hand (R1). Because the first response creates SD2 (pitcher in right hand, glass on table), you
then prompt the learner to pick up the glass with his left hand (R2), then provide a reinforcer. You fade the
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prompts until the learner is making the second response without any prompts. To train the third response in the
chain, place the pitcher of water and empty glass on the table (SD1) and the learner will pick up the pitcher with
his right hand, then pick up the glass with his left, thus creating SD3. You then prompt him to pour the water into
the glass (R3), and provide a reinforcer after the response. Once again, you fade the prompts until the third
response occurs without any prompts when SD3 is present. To train the final response in the chain, place the
pitcher of water and empty glass on the table (SD1) and the learner will pick up the pitcher with his right hand,
then pick up the glass with his left hand, then pour the water into the glass, thus creating SD4. You then prompt
him to place the pitcher back on the table (R4), and provide a reinforcer. Fade the prompts until the final response
occurs without any prompts when SD4 is present. At this point the learner can execute the entire behavioral chain
when a pitcher of water and empty glass are placed on the table.
9. Forward chaining and backward chaining are alike in the following ways: They are both used to teach a chain
of behaviors; before using both procedures you must first conduct a task analysis that breaks the chain down into
stimulus-response components; both teach one behavior at a time and chain the behaviors together; and both
procedures use prompting and fading to teach each component. Forward chaining and backward chaining are
different in the following ways: Forward chaining teaches the first component first whereas backward chaining
teaches the last component first; with backward chaining, because you teach the last component first, the learner
completes the chain in every learning trial and receives the natural reinforcer in every learning trial. In forward
chaining, the learner does not complete the chain in every learning trial and artificial reinforcers are used until the
last component of the chain is taught. The natural reinforcer occurs after the last behavior of the chain.
10. In using total task presentation procedures, you use prompting to get the learner to engage in the entire chain
of behaviors from start to finish. You use whatever type of prompting strategy is necessary to get the learner to
engage in the entire task. Once the learner successfully completes the task with prompts, you then fade the
prompts over learning trials until the learner engages in the task without any assistance. A reinforcer is provided
each time the learner completes the task, with or without prompts.
11. With graduated guidance, you use hand-over-hand guidance to lead the learner through the task, gradually
providing less and less assistance, moving from physical guidance to shadowing to no prompts, as the learner
completes the task.
12. To use total task presentation to teach the task described in question 4, you begin by placing the pitcher of
water and empty glass on the table (SD1). Next you use physical prompting to guide the learner through the entire
chain of behaviors. If you were using graduated guidance to prompt the behavior, you would stand behind the
learner, take his right hand in yours, put his right hand around the handle of the pitcher, take his left hand in
yours, put his left hand around the empty glass, guide him in pouring the water from the pitcher into the glass,
then guide him in placing the pitcher back on the table. The reinforcer in each trial is that the learner has a full
glass of water in his hand, which he may drink. Across trials, you provide less physical guidance, then provide
shadowing, and finally provide no prompts.
13. Total task presentation differs from backward and forward chaining in the following way: In total task
presentation, the learner is prompted through the entire task in each learning trial. In the two chaining
procedures, you teach one component of the chain at a time and then chain the components together. Total task
presentation is similar to backward and forward chaining in the following ways: They are all used to teach
complex tasks or chains of behavior; they all require that you complete a task analysis prior to training; and
prompting and fading are used in all three procedures.
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