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Using High‐P and Low‐P Instruction to Compare Similarities Between Children

Info: 2121 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 3rd Nov 2020 in Education

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This study measured that validity of using high probability commands, both vocal and motor, to determine the likelihood of a young participant following through and completing a low probability command. The research was successful in obtaining the data of using a series of high probability commands followed by a low probability command resulting in independent responses.

Using High‐P and Low‐P Instruction to Compare Similarities Between Children


There are generally skills that we as humans do much easier than we do other skills. There is the concept of momentum that is universally used throughout many different situations, in sports, in academics, in teaching motor skills, and even teaching children new words. For this concept with the example of teaching a new motor skill (clap hands), being considered a low probability that one will not likely complete the task because it is not in their repertoire. When attempting to complete the low probability task having a list of motor skills in the repertoire to complete then to on the last set doing the low probability task, there will be better chance of success than to ask a participant to complete a low probability task alone. Lipschultz (2018) says the topography of the tasks has a lot to do with the success or failure of the corresponding low-p task. To generate success they suggest that the tasks have some relation to the end result; this is more geared towards motor instruction rather than vocal. These responses are also influenced by a motivating factor, something for the participants to work for as a reward for completing the task that was asked of them. Having a highly motivating item as a reward to


Participants and Settings

The participants that were used in the study were two girls in preschool (ages 4 and 5 years old), Sally and Tammy. Sally is a 5-year-old preschooler who loves to color and play with Barbie’s, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when she was 2 years old. Her communication skills are below average (four- to five word sentences) as compared to her classmates and other children her age. Tammy is a 4-year-old preschooler who is typically developing and is considered average in communication skills when compared to her classmates and children her age. Tammy enjoys playing with her friends and watching videos on her I-pad.

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We selected the participants by asking the preschool teacher for children who she claimed to be non-compliant when asked to complete simple vocal and motor instructions. The research sessions were completed in a room conjunct to the preschool room where they attended school, so there was no outside influence from the other students in the class or the staff. The sessions were held two times a week in the conjoining room for one hour, allowed in the room were two researchers and the students participating in the study.

Stimulus Preference Assessment

To start the study we first needed to conduct a paired-stimulus preface assessment. According to Fisher et al. means, “repeatedly presenting a variety of stimuli to the client and then measuring approach behaviors to differentiate preferred from non-preferred stimuli” (1992,491), to identify the highly preferred items by both children. Some of the items presented to the children were coloring books with crayons, play-doh, Barbie’s, candy (i.e. Skittles and Hershey kisses), I-pad, cell phone games, and slime. When presented with these items the girls both very interested in the Skittles, this was observed to be the most motivating item. When asked to pick a toy item to play with Tammy chose the I-pad and Sally chose the coloring books and crayons. To further determine if the edible or the tangible toy was more motivating the girls were asked if the would like multiple Skittles or to have more time playing with the toy of their choice and they both chose that playing with their preferred item was more fulfilling than the edible.

Response Definitions and Interobserver Agreement

To consider a response correct the participant is required to complete the task within 5 to 7 seconds of the researcher delivering the instruction. The motor low-p instruction for the participants is ‘Give me the coloring book/I-pad,’ this was chosen by the teacher as the low-p instruction due to the non-compliance the participants showed during class time and caused multiple behaviors across multiple school days. The vocal low-p instruction was different for each of the participants, Sally would express non-compliance when asked ‘What is the shape?’ and Tammy ‘What letter is it?’ Some examples of the motor high-p’s are “Clap your hands,” “Bounce the ball,” “Pat your tummy.” The vocal high-p examples are “What is your name?”, “What is your favorite color?” “How old are you?” These questions would be asked along with others that the teacher identified the participants would answer followed by a low-p instruction. This study is ran with 2 researchers in the room, during sessions both researchers are taking data on the participants during the session after the session has ended the experimenters compare their IOA data as they are using a trial by trial method during session, recording a simple ‘Y’ for yes if the participant complied to the instruction, or recording ‘N’ for no if the participant does not respond correctly.


To implement the study we had the two researchers in the room with one of the participants. There was a list of 15 common high probability instructions given to the teacher for each student (for both motor and vocal instructions) and that list was shortened to 5 to use for each participant at the beginning of the study, during the study these instructions were probed and throughout baselines the remainder of the list was probed to add to the randomization of instructions to be asked. The experimenter sat on the opposite side of a table that was inside the room; the instructions considered to be the low probability instructions were presented every 2 minutes. From the list of predetermined high probability instructions three of them were presented followed by the low probability instruction predetermined by the teacher. To start each trial the experimenter was state the child’s name followed by the set of instructions at random. If the low probability task was completed independently the participant is rewarded with the motivating object/item of their choice. For the first part of the study both participants received an edible reward, which was predetermined as Skittles. For the second part of the study the motivator of more time was introduced.

The criteria to advance to the next phase of the study would be the participants showing a stable increase in trend along 3 consecutive sessions or having a percentage of 80 percent or higher. To show that the experiment is working the use of ABACAC design would showcase the different aspects of baseline and that the use of a highly motivating element over an edible item shows that the increase in the data is significantly higher.

Baseline. If the participants complied with either the vocal or motor low probability instruction, the experimenter responded with a simple praise (“Okay”). If there was non-compliance observed the experimenter remained neutral and closed the trial to continue onto the next request.

Results and Discussion

Figure 1 shows the results for Tammy, the top panel expressed her results for the motor instructional sessions, and during baseline she received zeros. After 3 sessions of baseline we moved onto the instructional phases, the first phase being high-p with an edible. The

The bottom panel expressed her results for the vocal instructional sessions. During baseline the participants were asked the low-p instruction and as hypothesized they did not respond. When introducing the sequence of high-p instruction followed by a low-p instruction with the contingency that there would be a reward for good compliance then we saw the trend line increase.

Figure 2 shows the results for Sally, same as above, the top panel expressed her results for the motor instructional phase and the bottom panel shows the data for her vocal instructional phases. The results of these studies showed that if a child is diagnosed with ASD or is deemed typically developing there are instructions, although different, resulting in a very similar pattern. Meaning that although a child is diagnosed with ASD does not typically mean they are behaving a certain way due to their diagnosis, there are some things that are typical during development and this was shows throughout the research of this study comparing a diagnosed child with a typically developing child. When asking a participant to complete a task that has been predetermined as low probability it is important to run a preface assessment, every participant is different in the things they find motivating, once an item is selected as highly motivating to the particular participant there is more likely for compliance across participants.

Some limitations of the study according to Lipshultz, would be finding high-p motor and vocal instructions that have correlating topography (2018). Finding instructions in the participants repertoire that match with the low-p instruction the experimenters are working on can be difficult, and would take more time in baseline to go through different instructions that would be similar in topography. Another limitation of the study would be a participant has no clear motivating element, or a motivating element that is continuously changing therefore a preface assessment would have to take place before every session which could impact the time the experimenters would have to conduct session with the participants.

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Future research ideas could potentially include using high-p and low-p instructions on adults, in the same format. Having one diagnosed with ASD and the other adult be typically developed, the instructions will be more age appropriate and advanced but with the idea that there are things that people just do not like to do would a spouse/parent benefit from giving a list of high-p instructions followed by a low-p create the momentum to complete that task without maladaptive behavior. Past research (Lipshultz, 2018), suggested that praise was not effective in increasing compliance it wasn’t until the use of a tangible highly preferred item was introduced to the study was there an increase in compliance. During this study, omitting the praise section of the study and straight to the tangible items showed an immediate increase in correct response.


  • Esch, K., & Fryling, M. J. (2013). A comparison of two variations of the high‐probability instructional sequence with a child with autism. Education & Treatment of Children, 36, 61‐72. https://doi-org.lib.pepperdine.edu/10.1353/etc.2013.0008
  • Fisher, W., Piazza, C. C., Bowman, L. G., Hagopian, L. P., Owens, J. C. and Slevin, I. (1992). A Comparison of Two Approaches for Identifying Reinforcers for Persons with Sever and Profound Disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 491-498. doi:10.1901/jaba.1992.25-491
  • Lipschultz, J. L., Wilder, D. A., Ertel, H. and Enderli, A. (2018). The effects of high‐p and low‐p instruction similarity on compliance among young children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 51, 866-878. doi:10.1002/jaba.482




Vocal Low-p with more time




Figure 1. Data for Tammy, the top panel is showing the motor instructional data and the bottom panel shows the data for the vocal instructions



Vocal Low-p W/ more time

Figure2. Data for Sally, the top panel is showing the motor instructional data and the bottom panel shows the data for the vocal instructions


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