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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Blackman

Initial and Ongoing Training Procedures

There are a number of research-supported ways to train staff at your organization. Today we review some illustrative examples of some of the most commonly used procedures in practice. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Behavioral skills training is an evidenced-based procedure that consists of a trainer providing instructions and modeling the skill prior to asking the trainee to practice the skill themselves. Following the practice opportunity, the trainer provides feedback on the trainee's performance (Parsons et al., 2012). This procedure should be repeated until the trainee demonstrates the skills perfectly at least once, so the trainer is confident the trainee can perform the skill with high levels of integrity prior to working independently with consumers of service.

Video modeling with voiceover instruction is where a trainee watches a video demonstration of a skill where the audio describes what is occurring in the video (Catania et al., 2009). Using video models allows the training to be standardized and ensures the procedure is implemented with integrity.

  • Sandra Ruby, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, recently conducted a study to determine the effects of video-based training with and without instructions. Her results revealed that instructions help to improve integrity further, even though it takes less time to provide training without instructions.

  • Grace Bartle, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, recently conducted a study to determine the effect of exemplars and non-exemplars on integrity. Her results revealed that it may be beneficial to include non-exemplars in your training scenarios.

Computer-based instruction is typically delivered during onboarding and consists of a trainee completing a self-guided, online instruction that includes active learner responding (Pollard et al., 2014). Computer-based instruction is a way to equip trainees with the knowledge surrounding the skills they will be expected to perform in practice. Providing the foundational knowledge prior to in-person training allows for the in-person training time to be devoted to practice opportunities and more in-depth discussion.

Group-based workshops are often delivered when many trainees need to learn a particular skill. The content is typically delivered as a lecture to multiple trainees (Luiselli et al., 2008). Research is still determining what components need to be included in group-based workshops to ensure trainees have acquired the skill taught.

Peer training, also referred to as pyramidal training, is where an expert trainer trains a staff member who in turn will train other staff at the organization (Erath et al., 2020). This training approach provides additional learning opportunities for high-performing staff to expand their repertoire, as they learn the skill to train others. Additionally, it frees up time for the lead trainer to complete other tasks.


Catania, C. N., Almeida, D., Liu-Constant, B., & DiGeenaro-Reed, F. D. (2009). Video modeling to train staff to implement discrete-trial instruction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(2), 387-392.

Erath, T. G., DiGennaro Reed, F. D., Sundermeyer, H. W., Brand, D., Novak, M. D., Harbison, M. J., & Shears, R. (2020). Enhancing the training integrity of human service staff using pyramidal behavioral skills training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 53(1), 449-464.

Luiselli, J., St. Amand, C. A., MaGee, C., & Sperry, J. M. (2008). Group training of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) knowledge competencies to community-based service providers for adults with developmental disabilities. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 4(1).

Parsons, M. B., Rollyson, J. H., & Reid, D. H. (2012). Evidence-based staff training: A guide for practitioners. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 5(2), 2-11.

Pollard, J., Higbee, T. S., Akers, J., & Brodhead, M. T. (2014). An evaluation of interactive computer training to teach instructors to implement discrete trials with children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47(4), 1-12.

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