By Natalia Colon, 2021 Innovative Student Research Grant, Master’s
Natalia Colon is a graduate student in the Applied Behavior Analysis, Master of Science program at the Florida Institute of Technology. Her thesis project examines the relationship between the severity of student problem behavior and the discounting of delayed treatment outcomes by teachers. The study will present participants with vignettes where participants assume a hypothetical role of a teacher. The vignettes will detail two separate students with mild or severe problem behavior. Participants will watch videos of the hypothetical students in the classroom and then complete the delay discounting assessment to determine if there is a difference between discounting of treatment based on problem behavior severity. If teachers discount treatment outcomes, adherence to the intervention may be at risk because behavioral interventions often do not immediately produce results. The data from this study will inform researchers the level at which teachers discount treatment effects and may provide empirical evidence for clinicians to offer additional support to this population for training. Results may indicate that motivation may be stronger for the immediate termination of the student’s problem behavior despite the long-term implications of reinforcing problem behavior. In addition to the treatment outcomes discounting assessment, a monetary discounting assessment will also be utilized for comparison. Doing so adds to the literature as to whether delay discounting is a trait variable or commodity dependent. Few previous studies have examined delayed behavioral treatment outcomes as the commodity of interest. Natalia’s thesis project aids clinicians in determining whether teachers as program implementers require support for sensitivities to delays. The SABA grant will provide Natalia with funding to recruit participants, utilize more sophisticated data collection and statistical software, and travel to the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s Annual Convention to disseminate her findings.