EVALUATING RESULTS OF MONITORING MEANINGFUL TASK INVOLVEMENT
Once monitoring of meaningful task involvement has been conducted and results of the monitoring have been summarized, the next step is to evaluate the data. Generally, it is best to have at least three separate observations of each participant group within a center-based program to obtain a representative or accurate evaluation of the level of meaningful task involvement. The focus should be on the percentage of on-task behavior that consists of meaningful task involvement averaged across all monitoring sessions.
Ultimately the goal for promoting meaningful task involvement is that 100% or all task involvement be meaningful within a center-based program. In this regard, observations using the monitoring process just described have shown that some center-based programs are successful in providing exclusively meaningful tasks for their participants (see following discussion on using normative data). However, the same observations have revealed that most programs do not have 100% meaningful task involvement and participants in many centers are involved primarily in nonmeaningful tasks.
Although the ultimate goal for center-based programs is to have 100% participant involvement in meaningful tasks, achieving that goal can be difficult at times. This is particularly the case when beginning the process of working with a program to move from primarily nonmeaningful task provision to meaningful. In such situations, it can be helpful for a program to compare its level of meaningful task involvement to that of other programs. This is where use of normative data as referred to earlier can be beneficial.
Behavior analytic research has periodically provided normative data that reflect the degree to which center-based programs involve their participants in meaningful versus nonmeaningful tasks. These data, collected over a number of years with the same monitoring process just described, are available in a number of sources
Figure 5.1 Percentage of on-task observations with meaningful versus nonmeaningful task involvement.
(Green et al., 1986; Parsons et al., 2004; Reid, Parsons, & Green, 2001). What is primarily relevant at this point are the most recent normative data on meaningful task involvement. The above illustration summarizes data reported in 2015 about the average level of meaningful task involvement across 78 center-based program sites (Reid, 2015c).
Fig. 5.1 shows that on average, 52% of on-task behavior in center- based programs consisted of meaningful task involvement (48% nonmeaningful). Across the various program sites, there was considerable variability in amount of meaningful task involvement. Specifically, some programs had 100% meaningful involvement, whereas some had 0%.
From the perspective of evaluating one’s own program for participant involvement in meaningful tasks, the 2015 normative data support the contention that the ultimate goal of 100% meaningful task involvement is obtainable. It is recommended that behavior analysts and other clinicians (as well as agency supervisors) set 100% as their goal. Even obtaining a goal of 80% or so, however, would still place their level of meaningful task involvement well above the normative average. Chapter 6, A Staff Training and Supervision Plan to Increase
Meaningful Activities, describes in detail how one can go about improving a center’s provision of meaningful tasks if the monitoring data reveal that meaningful task involvement is below desired goals. Before describing the remaining strategies in the overall change process though, some special considerations in using the monitoring and evaluating the resulting data warrant attention.