Data for Discrete Trial Teaching

Collecting data from discrete trial teaching

Discrete trial teaching is the basic instructional technique used in Applied Behavior Analysis. Once a specific skill is identified and operationalized, there are several ways to record success. Since trials are generally multiple probes of since skills, when you collect data you want your data to reflect several things: Correct responses, Non-responses, Incorrect responses, and Prompted responses. Usually, a goal is written in a way to name what each response will look like:

  • "John will touch a letter from a field of three."
  • "When presented with a colored sorting bear, Belinda will correctly place it on a plate of the matching color"
  • "When presented with a set of counters from 1 to 5, Mark will correctly count the counters.

When you use a discrete trial teaching approach, you may want to create a "program" to teach a skill. Clearly, you will want to be shaping the behavior/skill you are teaching, starting with the antecedent skills. I.e., if the skill you are teaching is recognizing colors, you will want to start with a benchmark that asks the child to distinguish between two colors, in other words, "John, touch red," from a field of two (say, red and blue.) Your program could be called "Color Recognition," and would probably expand to all the primary colors, the secondary colors and finally the secondary colors, white, black and brown.

In each of these cases, the child is asked to complete a discrete task (therefore, discrete trials) and the observer can easily record whether their response was Correct, Incorrect, Non-Responsive, or whether the child needed to be Prompted. You may want to record what level of prompting was required: physical, oral or gestural. You can use a record sheet to record these and plan how you will fade prompting.

A Free Printable Record Sheet

Use this free printable record sheet to record five days of the particular task. You certainly don't need to record every day the child is in your classroom, but by providing you with five days, this worksheet is a little more accessible for those of you who would like to keep a sheet a week for data collection.

There is a space next to each "p" on each column that you can use to record what kind of prompt if you are using this form not only to record your trial by trial but also to fade prompting.

At the bottom is also a place to keep percents. This form provides 20 spaces: you certainly only need to use as many trials as your student usually can attend to. Some low functioning students may only successfully complete 5 or 6 of the tasks. 10 is, of course, optimal, because you can quickly create a percent, and ten is a fairly decent representation of a student's skills. Sometimes, however, students will resist doing more than 5, and building up the number of successful responses may be one of your goals: they may otherwise stop responding or respond with anything to get you to leave them alone.

There are spaces at the bottom of each column for "next" to write when you are expanding your field (say, from three to four) or adding more numbers or letters in letter recognition. There is also a place for notes: perhaps you know the child didn't sleep well the night before (a note from Mom) or he or she was really distracted: you may want to record that in the notes, so you give the program another shot the next day.

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Your Citation
Webster, Jerry. "Data for Discrete Trial Teaching." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Webster, Jerry. (2020, August 26). Data for Discrete Trial Teaching. Retrieved from Webster, Jerry. "Data for Discrete Trial Teaching." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 25, 2022).