Sherry Crossley

Sherry Crossley Research Projects

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Sherry Crossley, a recent graduate (Spring, 2016) of the Masters in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis Program, worked on the following research projects during her time at USJ. Sherry also served as the Graduate Assistant for the program during the 2015-2016 academic year.  During her time as a graduate student and assistant, she worked on two projects with Drs. Turner and Courtemanche. As part of her thesis project, Sherry’s own research focused on increasing the use of praise among special education teachers when working with students with autism spectrum disorder.  She also collaborated on a project looking at patterns of problem behavior displayed by adults with intellectual disabilities living in the community.

Project Abstracts

Using Non-Invasive Prompts to Increase Teacher’s Use of Descriptive Praise

Author(s): Sherry Crossley, Laura Turner, Nicole Groskreutz

Institutional affiliations: University of Saint Joseph

Abstract: Descriptive praise (i.e., specific to a behavior), relative to general praise (i.e., not specific to a behavior), has been shown to be effective at increasing on-task behavior and work productivity for various populations ranging from typically developing adults to children with disabilities. Descriptive praise is simple to implement and time efficient, yet, specifically in regard to children with disabilities, research has shown that teachers have difficulty delivering descriptive praise given the environmental distractions inherent to a special education setting. To address such limitations, special education staff commonly wears commercially available tactile prompts, or vibrating pagers, to assist in the delivery of descriptive praise; however, the effectiveness and acceptability of these prompts have received minimal attention in the literature. The purpose of this study was thus to evaluate the pager’s effectiveness and acceptability among educational staff. Three teachers at a special education school received an evidence-based training on descriptive praise and were then provided with the prompts on randomly alternating days. The second purpose of this study was to replicate the effects of increases in descriptive praise on student on-task behavior. Data show that for two out of three participant dyads, the vibrating pager was effective at increasing descriptive praise statements and this increase was related to overall increases in student on task behavior. Results of this study will be used to educate primary, secondary and higher educational settings on the effectiveness of descriptive praise and methods to increase descriptive praise within individualized environments.

Sequentially-Dependent Self-Injurious Behavior in Community Settings

Author(s):  Andrea B. Courtemanche, Blair P. Lloyd, Johanna L. Staubitz, & Sherry Crossley

Institutional affiliations: University of Saint Joseph; Vanderbilt University

Abstract: Studies have documented a sequential dependence between instances of self-injurious behavior (SIB) rather than temporal relationships between SIB and social consequences. Thus, rather than SIB resulting in consistent social consequences, one instance of SIB is likely to be followed by another instance of SIB. Because many of the participants in these studies lived in institution-like settings, it is unclear whether these results could be attributed to relatively low rates of social attention in that environment. The purpose of this study was to use sequential analysis methodology to assess behavior-behavior and behavior-environment contingencies for a group of individuals with SIB living in community settings. Seven individuals with chronic SIB were videotaped during their daily routines. A continuous, timed-event recording system was used to code videos for the frequency of SIB and the frequency and duration of staff attention and participant engagement in functional activities. Participant and staff behavior were analyzed for frequency, duration, inter-observer agreement, and sequential dependencies. A sequential pattern of SIB was identified for some participants. Additionally, sequential patterns of SIB varied based on idiosyncratic topographies. Future research should evaluate the relationship between sequential associations of SIB in natural contexts and behavioral function as determined by functional analyses.

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