Generalization and Sustainability in Positive Behavior Support

Training New Staff

Two young men high five at work.

New staff are learning a lot of different skills related to their job. Teaching the steps involved in implementing a positive behavior support plan intervention also requires training that includes an understanding of how adults learn new skills. It can be helpful to use a variety of strategies for teaching people new information. Multiple teaching strategies (visual, auditory, role plays, observation, discussion) can be helpful to address everyone's needs.

A pioneer in adult education, Malcolm Knowles, recommended the following strategies for adult learners:

  • Explain why a new skill is important to know and understand
  • Allow people the freedom to learn in their own way
  • Create opportunities for people to try skills and observe the results
  • Understand when the time is right for learning to occur
  • Use strategies that are positive and create opportunities to experience success

To encourage generalization, teaching strategies should include:

  • Modeling, practicing and time to reflect with someone else
  • Providing coaches who will support initial implementation and empower people to expand the places where interventions are used
  • Teaching interventions in the setting where the strategies are needed
  • Using examples and nonexamples of the steps involved
  • Providing people with a planning tool to problem solve while expanding interventions to new settings

Staff can learn new skills using by:

  • Reading online modules
  • Discussing topics in small groups
  • Working together on learning activities
  • Watching others implementing practices
  • Working along side another staff person who is modeling the skills

This article provides important concepts related to generalization:

Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 10(2), 349-367.

You can find out how to access this article (available by the publisher) by visiting the Module 4 Resource Page .