ABA & Behavioral Therapy for Autism | Connect Plus Therapy

Top Mentoring Tips for the Busy BCBA

Top Mentoring Tips for the Busy BCBA

As a BCBA, you are under an immense amount of pressure. Billable requirements, new staff, oh, and that reassessment is due in two days, and you found yourself agreeing to mentor the next generation of BCBAs. It’s a lot; honestly, I know it can feel easier to do the work yourself. Perhaps it gives you less anxiety to do your work without the help of a graduate student.

However, I’ve mentored many graduate students and can assure you that when well-trained and supported, they will offer you an immense amount of assistance and peace of mind. Let them help you, and let me help you find the best way to support them. Cheryl Davis, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA, and Dana Reinecke, PhP, BCBA-D, LBA, broke down the task list and recommended activities supervising BCBAs can assign during their presentation at MassABA (2019).

Observation & Data Collection

  • Conduct IOA on client program(s), compare results, retrain staff or refine data collection system
  • Conduct treatment integrity checks across staff/parents
  • Observe client and take ABC data
  • Use varied data collection methods for the same target behavior, summarize results and compare to true values
  • Design data sheets, including operational definitions, directions for use, explanation of measurement system
  • Create time sampling data collection system, take baseline data, summarize results, determine appropriate interval, train staff on system
  • Graph ongoing data, interpret results and present to staff, parent/guardian, professional staff both written and orally
  • Summarize trials to criterion data to determine skill acquisition rate, present to staff, parent/guardian, both written and orally

Training Staff & Caregivers

  • Review relevant literature on caregiver staff/training
  • Review BST literature and develop plan to implement
  • Review performance feedback literature
  • Develop a hands-on training using BST and performance feedback for staff/caregivers
  • Develop and deliver a formal presentation and materials on a selected topic
  • Conduct IOA on client program(s), compare results, retrain staff/caregiver or refine programming
  • Conduct treatment integrity checks across staff/caregiver and deliver feedback

Conducting Behavioral Intervention Assessments

  • Case/record review 
  • Conduct formal and informal skill assessments 
  • Parent/teacher/caregiver interview 
  • Observe client in natural setting 
  • Review current programming 
  • Summarize assessment results in written report 
  • Present findings to stakeholders 
  • Review literature for interventions to target identified skills

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Client Meetings Behavior-analytic Programming & Services

  • State intervention goals in observable and measurable terms that are understandable to the client/stakeholders
  • Interview stakeholders to determine priorities for goals
  • Conduct relevant assessments and review results with client/stakeholders
  • Use assessments to determine needs for service and make recommendations
  • Identify potential interventions based on assessment results and the best available scientific evidence
  • Discuss the risks and benefits of interventions with clients/stakeholders
  • Recommend intervention goals and strategies based on such factors as client preferences, supporting environments, risks, constraints, and social validity
  • Make data-based decisions about the effectiveness of the intervention and the need for treatment revision

Conducting Behavior-analytic Assessments

  • Review the literature about the assessment procedure/tool
  • Functional behavior assessment
  • Functional analyses
  • Stimulus preference assessments
  • Research appropriate assessment tools
  • Identify assessment tools and learn how to implement them
  • Skills based assessments
  • Social skills assessments
  • Adaptive living skills assessments
  • Summarize results in written format
  • Make recommendations based on results, consultation, research
  • Present results to client/guardian, staff, colleagues

Data Graphing & Analysis

  • Review literature about graphing and analysis
  • Learn graphing software program to use for client data
  • Review current data and determine best visual analysis display method
  • Develop graph(s) of client data
  • Summarize results and suggest next steps
  • Present findings to stakeholders

Motivating operations

  • Identify existing intentional or unintentional motivating operations
  • Determine ways to take advantage of existing motivating operations to support behavior change 
  • Determine ways to contrive motivating operations if needed 
  • Take data on behavior change with MOs in effect 
  • Summarize results 
  • Present finding to stakeholders

Verbal operants

  • Identify a client with some verbal operants that are strong and intact
  • Determine which verbal operants are weak or missing
  • Develop a program to address weak or missing verbal operants
  • Take data on behavior change with MOs in effect
  • Summarize results
  • Present finding to stakeholders

Time sampling

  • Collecting data on client behavior using appropriate time-sampling method (PIR, WIR, MTS) at 5- second intervals
  • Sum data according to varying intervals (5s, 10s, 15s, 30s, 1 min, etc.)
  • Determine most appropriate/accurate interval length
  • Take data on same interval using another time-sampling method
  • Collect data and compare results to original interval
  • Summarize data

These are simply recommendations on assignments you can provide your graduate students. Your graduate student’s ability to complete those tasks will depend on their skill level. However, it’s part of our job as mentors to ensure they learn those skills over time. You’re doing great; remember that your mentees asked you to supervise them for a reason!

Graduate Student Supervisor Reminders

  • If you are a graduate student’s primary supervisor, check their supervision logs for accuracy. In the end, if they get audited, you are responsible for submitting the logs and additional paperwork.
  • Please don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting with me (Lindsey Clark) if you need additional support on how to supervise your graduate students!
  • Check out Ripley! Talk to your mentees about Ripley; a great way for them to track all of their hours!
Graduate Student Supervisor Reminders - Yellow Bell

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Check out the opportunities we’ve created for our BCBAs and BTs below.