Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

The Use of Technology to Improve Staff Performance

Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

The Use of Technology to Improve Staff Performance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Staff performance is one of the critical components of the effective programming for learners with special needs (Jahr, 1998; Parsons, & Reid, 1995; Salmento & Bambara, 2000; Parsons, Reid, & Green, 1993; Baker, Foxx, & Albin, 1995; Schepis, Reid, Ownbey, & Parsons, 2001). Didactic trainings in forms of lectures and workshops are often used to teach staff knowledge and to improve staff performance. However, the didactic teaching does not always translate to the application of the clinical or educational interventions because "knowing" and "doing" are different repertoires. For example, knowing the difference of various prompting procedures does not make the instructor competent to implement prompting procedures effectively (Parsons & Reid, 1995; Jahr, 1998; Schepis, Ownbey, Parsons, & Reid, 2000; Smith, 1995; Plavnick, Ferreri, & Maupin, 2010; DiGennaro, Marrtens, & Kleinman, 2007)

In our verbal world, it is very natural to call learner's name or asking the learner, "What's next?" and staff may not think these as verbal prompts. However, students may develop prompt dependency within tasks or for transition. Just making faces or eye contact can be also a prompt for learners, but instructors may not realize they are even using those prompts while they are working with learners. Didactic teaching does not effectively address these issues.

On-site staff training, including the frequent on-site supervision and feedback, is proven to be effective in order to improve staff performance (Smith, 1995; Arco, 2008; Green, Rollyson, Passante, & Reid, 2002; Parsons, Reid, & Crow, 2003; Salmento & Bambara, 2000; Langeland, Johnson, & Mawhinney, 1998; Reid, Rotholz, Parsons, Morris, Braswell, Green, & Schell, 2003; Guercio, Dixon, Soldner, Shoemaker, Zlomke, Root, & Small, 2005). Despite the effectiveness of on-site training, there are some barriers to implement this type of training consistently and frequently. First, the on-site staff training including staff observation and providing feedback is time consuming, especially for community based programs since supervisors need to visit all training sites and they lose driving time between sites. Secondly, implementation of the on-site training is costly. It requires many supervisors to implement sufficient amount of training on-going basis and within reasonable amount of time period. Thirdly, the presence of supervisor can be intrusive to staff, learners, and the environment, especially in the community. In addition to these barriers to implement on-site training, reactivity of staff to the presence of their supervisors could affect the assessment of staff performance (Brackett, Reid, & Green, 2007; Mowery, Miltenberger, & Weil, 2010). Without having accurate data on staff performance, the supervisors cannot provide appropriate training for staff. This will impact the quality of service provided to learners.

These barriers of providing on-site training can be minimized with utilization of available technology. The advancement of technology has made the various modes of environmental adaptations including many electronic devices available and accessible with significantly reduced cost. The implementation of those devices became easier due to the improved portability. Nepo (in press) and Satriale, Chance, and Nepo (2007) demonstrated that the Bluetooth[R] technology can be effectively utilized for interventions to teach learners with Autism. This concept can be also applied for the on-site staff training. In the present study, Bluetooth[R] technology was implemented to collect data and provide immediate feedback remotely thereby time and cost for driving will be saved and reactivity will be decreased.

Beside the on-site observation and feedback, the effective staff training package often include self-monitoring. Self-monitoring procedure consists of goal setting and recording own target behaviour has been proved to be effective to improve staff performance, especially when combined with other procedures (Petscher & Bailey, 2006; Richman, Riordan, Reiss, Pyles, & Baily, 1988; Baker, Fox, & Albin, 1995; Plavnick, Ferreri, & Maupin, 2010). …

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