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  1. 1. The Use of Imitation in Learning aka: modeling, observational learning
  2. 2. Imitation (definition) Any physical movement that serves as a novel model, that is similar to model, and follows occurrence of model immediately. Imitative behavior is new behavior emitted following novel event.
  3. 3. Immediacy Why’s it important? Imitation occurs immediately after a response. A delayed behavior is not an imitation. Delayed responses are a learned behavior, not an imitated behavior. A child may imitate to learn how to ride a bike. But, any time after that he is not imitating the riding behavior, he has learned how to ride.
  4. 4. Children Learn Through Imitation Most of children’s important physical development milestones occur through modeling. Children observe parents performing novel events Children attempt to imitate parents actions Successful completion earns them praise (positive reinforcement) Imitation now becomes differentially reinforced (parents reinforce all actions that resemble event being imitated)
  5. 5. Shaping and Chaining Use Imitation Shaping and chaining are two methods that teach children to perform novel task, using differential reinforcement Shaping-Producing a behavior through a series of successful approximations that resemble behavior being taught Chaining- Procedures that teach behavior chains Shaping is used to teach smaller units that lead to a large behavior chain. But how is imitation used?
  6. 6. Shaping, Chaining, & Imitation cont… Imitation is used to present novel model of behavior. The big picture: Behavior chains are made up of different classes of actions. Each class is shaped, which sometimes uses imitation to model each small approximate unit until it resembles terminal (final) behavior.
  7. 7. What if your child cannot imitate? Developmentally disabled children and infants cannot, or do not, imitate. What’s this mean? Without an imitative repertoire, they have difficulty with anything beyond basic skills. When this happens we use IMITATION TRAINING
  8. 8. Imitation Training In imitation training it is not important what behavior is being modeled. Only important the person learns to imitate the behavior of the modeler. Taking the emphasize off of behavior we are attempting to enable the children to generalize the behavior of imitation. (Generalize- what is learned or reinforced is applicable in all settings, and across all behavior classes)
  9. 9. Imitation Training Guidelines  Brief and Active Sessions  10-15min sessions  Multiple times daily  Only a few seconds between trials  Reinforce Imitative and Prompted Responses  No matter whether it was a prompted or imitated response, reinforce all instances of imitative behavior that occurred 3 to 5s after model
  10. 10. Pair Tangible Reinforcer with Verbal Praise/Attention When reinforcing imitative behaviors, pair the tangible reinforcer presented with praise or attention Children more likely to participate in training when followed by preferred activity Progress breaks down, back up and move ahead slowly When progress breaks down, move to the last successful step. When the last step is achieved move ahead slowly. Break downs occur because of satiation, distractions, or to complex task.
  11. 11. Fade Prompts and Physical Guidance Throughout most of the training you will be using verbal prompts, and possible physical guidance to assist in mastery of a step. Now is the time to fade those out. Slowly remove the prompts/guidance. Goal is for the child to imitate task on their own. End Training When imitation begins to occur without any prompts, it is time to stop the training. Hopefully, with successful training, children will imitate on their own, and develop skills far beyond a basic level.
  12. 12. Imitative Behavior vs. Controlling Response Now is a good time to discuss the difference between an imitative behavior and a controlling response These behaviors are very similar and are often times confused. A controlling response is a behavior that is evoked that is similar to the behavior of the model, but not the same. An imitative behavior must follow immediately after and be a complete replication of model’s behavior.
  13. 13. Imitation Reminders It is not imitation if it does not follow the behavior of the model. If it occurs in the absence of the model it is not imitative behavior, it is a learned response. Imitative behavior accounts for how children learn to do almost everything. If not properly modeled difficulties may arise that could lead to difficulties developing an appropriate imitative repertoire.
  14. 14. How children use imitation When learning to speak children imitate sounds that parents and caregivers make. Doing so allows them to develop and expand their vocabulary. Children learn to smile, clap their hands, and make silly faces by observing the actions of their mothers and fathers.
  15. 15. In closing, take a look at the following video of possibly the cutest baby ever and decide, imitation or not?
  16. 16. References Berk, L., (2008). Infants, Children, and Adolescents. 6th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., Heward, W.L., (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis. 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson Education, Inc.