Description: The use of instruction designed to prevent errors or incorrect responses. Typically prompts (artificial cues that provide assistance to the learner about the correct response) are presented so that an individual engages in a behavior that is being targeted. Once the individual is engaging in the behavior appropriately, then these prompts are faded or removed slowly and systematically so that the correct behavior is made with few or no errors.

Research Summary: Errorless learning/teaching techniques are a well established learning principle and these techniques have been shown to be effective in teaching a variety of discriminations to individuals with autism. Much of the research recently conducted in errorless learning/teaching procedures can be found in the area of discrete trial instruction (see earlier entry).

Recommendations: Errorless learning/teaching techniques are effective ways in which to teach a variety of skills to individuals with autism.

Selected References:

Systematic reviews of scientific studies:

Green, G. (2001). Behavior analytic instruction for learners with autism: Advances in stimulus control technology. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 72-85.

Heflin, L. J., & Alberto, P. A. (2001). Establishing a behavioral context for learning for students with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 93-101.

Selected scientific studies:

Schilmoeller, G. L., Schilmoeller, K. J., & Etzel, B. C. (1979). Conditional discrimination after errorless and trial-and-error training. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 31(3), 405-420.

For additional information:

McCartney, L. L. A., LeBlanc, J. M. (1997). Errorless learning in educational environments: Using criterion-related cues to reduce errors. In D.M Baer & E.M Pinkton (Eds.), Environment and Behavior. (pp. 80-96). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

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