CHAPTER 11 – Chaining
Behavioural Chain: a complex behaviour consisting of many component behaviours that
occur together in a sequence
Analyzing Stimulus-Response Chains
Stimulus-response chain: another name for a behavioural chain, due to the fact that
each behavioural chain consists of a number of individual stimulus-response
components that occur together in a sequence.
Each behaviour or response in the chain produces a stimulus change that acts
as an S for the next response in the chain.
Task Analysis: process of analyzing a behavioural chain by breaking it down into its
individual stimulus-response components
1. Identify all the behaviours necessary to perform the task and write them down
2. Identify the S associated with the behaviour in each task
Ways to identify the right sequence of behaviours:
Watch someone do the task and record each of the stimulus-response
Ask an expert to explain all of the components of the task
Performing the task yourself and record each of the component responses
o You will probably get the most information from this method
A task analysis can be revised: if a learner is having difficulty with a certain behaviour in
the chain, it can be useful to break down that behaviour into two or more behaviours. If
the learner can master larger units of behaviour, two or more components can be
combined into one.
It doesn’t matter how many steps there are – it depends on the learner.
Chaining procedures: strategies for teaching complex tasks (behavioural chains)
Involve the systematic application of prompting and fading strategies to each
stimulus-response component of the chain.
Backward Chaining Def.: Using prompting and fading to teach the last behaviour in the chain first. By
starting with the last behaviour in the chain, the learner completes the chain on every
Once the last behaviour is learnt, the next-to-last behaviour is taught. ETC. ETC.
Typically used with those who have learning disabilities
1. S 1 – Staff member says, “Jerry, let’s play darts” R1 – Jerry walks over to
2. S 2 – Standing near a line on the floor 8 feet from the dartboard R2 –
Jerry walks up to the line and stands facing the dartboard with his toes
touching the line Order of learning
3. S 3 – Standing at the line with a dart on an adjacent table R3 – Jerry
grasps dart between thumb and first finger, with the point facing the board
4. S 4 – Standing at the line and holding the dart between thumb and first finger
R4 – Jerry bends his elbow so that the forearm is at a 90-degree angle
5. S 5 – standing at the line with dart in hand and elbow bent R5 – Jerry
thrusts forearm and hand toward the board and releases dart when arm is
extended reinforcer – dart hits board
Def.: Teaching the first component then the second component etc.
Similarities between Backward and Forward Chaining
Both are used to teach a chain of behaviour
To use both procedures, you first have to conduct a task analysis that breaks
down the chain into stimulus-response components
Both teach behaviour (one component of the chain) at a time and chain the
Both procedures use prompting and fading to teach each component
Differences between Backward and Forward Chaining
Forward chaining teaches the first component first, while backward chaining
teaches the last component first
With backward chaining, the learner completes the chain in every trial and
receives the natural reinforcer in every trial. With forward chaining, artificial
reinforcers (praise) are used until the last component of the chain is taught.
Natural reinforcer occurs after last behaviour of chain. Total Task Presentation
Def.: The complex chain of behaviours is taught as a single unit. Total task is completed
in each learning trial.