The program breaks down individual skills into small discrete tasks and guides a student’s learning through prompting and reinforcement. Each trial follows the traditional discrete trial model that has been used in multiple studies (e.g., Lovaas, 1987; Smith, Groen, & Wynn, 2000) where the discriminative stimulus is presented (i.e. the instruction or cue that the child should respond to) by presenting 1 or more images (e.g., a happy, a sad, and an angry face) with a vocal instruction (e.g., “Find the person that is happy”). Next, the child is expected to respond by selecting one of the images (e.g., clicking on the happy face) (the child can also touch the screen on touch screen monitors). If the response is correct, a positive statement is heard (e.g., “You did it!”), there is a brief (3 second) inter-trial interval (i.e. pause between trials) and the next trial is presented. If the response is not correct, the correct answer is shown.
Each trial presented in the TeachTown: Basics On Computer Lessons follows the traditional discrete trial model that has been used in multiple studies (e.g., Lovaas, 1987; Smith, Groen, & Wynn, 2000). The discrete trial model can also be easily incorporated into the Off Computer Activities. The instructions provide a simple reference of how to deliver clear instruction.
SD --> R --> SR
Discrete Trial Training is a behavioral treatment intervention using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and derived from the work of Lovaas (1987). Discrete Trial Training takes a large or long term goal and breaks it down into small achievable steps that are presented in the format of a discrete trial. A particular trial may be practiced numerous times until the skill is mastered. There are typically three steps to the typical discrete trial.
Discrete Trial Training programs often start by training pre-learning skills (sitting, attending, looking at trainer), play skills, social skills, safety and basic pre-academics and concepts. A particular emphasis on communication and imitation may be the initial focus of the curriculum if students are non-verbal or have limited communication skills.