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Prompting (PP)

Prompting (PP) procedures include any help given to learners that assists them in using a specific skill.

Description

Prompting is used to increase the likelihood that a person will provide a desired response. When using a prompt to enhance learning a specific skill, it is important to fade, or reduce, the prompt once the skill is mastered (Alberto & Troutman, 2013).

Verbal, gestural, or physical assistance is given to learners to assist them in acquiring or engaging in a targeted behavior or skill. Prompts are generally given by an adult or peer before or as a learner attempts to use a skill. These procedures are often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including time delay and reinforcement, or are part of protocols for the use of other evidence-based practices such as pivotal response training, discrete trial teaching, and video modeling. Thus, prompting procedures are considered foundational to the use of many other evidence-based practices.

PP meets evidence-based criteria with one group design and 32 single-case design studies. According to the evidence-based studies, this intervention has been effective for toddlers (0–2 years) to young adults (19–22 years) with ASD. PP can be used effectively to address social, communication, behavior, joint attention, play, school-readiness, academic, motor, adaptive, and vocational skills.

Prompts are often categorized into a hierarchy from most intrusive to least intrusive. Types of prompts (from most intrusive to least intrusive), their descriptions, and examples are as follows:

  • Full physical assistance: The teacher uses “hand-over-hand” support to aid the child in completing a task (e.g., when teaching the child to pick up a cup, the teacher takes the child’s hand and guides him to pick it up).
  • Partial physical assistance: The teacher provides partial physical assistance to help the child complete a task (e.g., when teaching the child to pick up the cup, the teacher guides the child’s hand to the cup by tapping his elbow).
  • Full model: The teacher models the desired behavior (e.g., when teaching the child how to clap, the teacher claps while telling the child to clap).
  • Partial model: The teacher models only part of the desired behavior (e.g., when teaching the child how to clap, the teacher puts his hands in front of himself, but does not actually clap).
  • Full verbal prompts: The teacher verbally models the desired behavior (e.g., when teaching the child to expressively label “car,” the teacher asks, “What is it? Say car.”).
  • Partial verbal model: The teacher verbally models only part of the desired behavior (e.g., when teaching the child to expressively label “car,” the teacher asks, “What is it? Say c___”).
  • Gestural prompt:. The teacher utilizes a physical gesture to encourage the desired behavior (e.g., when teaching the function of an object, the teacher says, “What do you drink with?” while holding his hand to his mouth shaping it like a cup).
  • Positional prompt: The teacher places the target item in a location that is closer to the child (e.g., when teaching the child to label “toy,” the teacher places the toy closest to the child).
  • Time-delay or prompt-delay techniques (Walker, 2008): This instructional procedure is proven to be effective, especially for children with ASD. When teaching a novel task, time delay is used to transfer the stimulus control from a controlling prompt to a natural prompt by placing varying amounts of time between a controlling prompt and a natural prompt. Given different lengths of time delay, time delay strategies are categorized into constant time delay (CTD) and progressive time delay (PTD). CTD indicates that there is a standard time delay whereas PTD has a graduated delay. The procedures of time delay strategy begin with a zero-second (0-s) delay trial, meaning the controlling prompt is presented with task instruction at the same time without any delay in between. Gradually, to fade the prompt, time delay is increased between the natural prompt (task direction) and the controlling prompt.

Not all prompts in the hierarchy need to be used when teaching a skill. Prompts should be chosen based on which ones are most effective for a particular child. Prompts should be faded systematically and as quickly as possible to avoid prompt dependency. Overall, the goal of using prompts is to help the child independently perform the desired behavior.

Brief Adapted from

Cox, A. W. (2013) Prompting (PP) fact sheet. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Neitzel, J., & Wolery, M. (2009). Overview of prompting. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Research Summary

Ages (yrs) Skills Settings Outcome
1–14 years Academic, communication, physical/leisure School, home, community
*The information found in the Research Summary table is updated yearly following a literature review of new research and this age range reflects information from this review.

Outcomes:     Evidence-based     Emerging     No evidence     Comprehensive

Steps for Implementation: Least-to-Most Prompting

 

Steps for Implementation: Simultaneous Prompting

 

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