Shaping is a procedure used in ABA to teach a behavior not currently in the client’s repertoire. We begin by identifying a prerequisite skill the client is capable of performing. Successive approximations are designed to produce a series of gradually changing response classes each response class is a successive approximation toward a terminal behavior.
Consider five-year-old Sammy: Sammy, the lucky little boy, has been asked to sing “America (My Country ’tis of Thee)” at his kindergarten graduation. His kindergarten teacher has informed you that it is your responsibility to teach him this song. (Little does the teacher know that you cannot carry a tune in a tin bucket!) But, because you are a skilled behavior analyst, you know that you will be able to teach Sammy his song using shaping techniques.
For this assignment you will:
Identify Sammy’s starting behavior.
Create a minimum of five successive approximations to reinforce behavior. Identify the terminal behavior.
Discuss the role that differential reinforcement will play in your shaping process.
Describe the motivating operations (MO) you plan to use, and explain how they may affect Sammy’s progress as he learns the song.
Discuss, in your proposed plan, compassionate and ethical considerations in line with the Capella Compassion Code [PDF] and BACB’s Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts [PDF].
Finally, discuss how you might inadvertently shape some undesirable behaviors as you work with Sammy and what you might be able to do to avoid those unwanted behaviors.
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