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What are the problems we are trying to solve?

  • Fieldwork is not standardized and therefore cannot reliably create prepared BCBAs (Kazemi, Rice & Adzhyan, 2019) 

  • Requirements of fieldwork and models for sustainable business practices are not well aligned: there is a lower response requirement for organizations to provide low quality supervision

    • Related to funders and funding sources.  There is a long way to increase stability of funding sources as a separate issue.​

Why are these problems?

  • BCBAs have more than doubled since 2016.  There were 22,000 BCBAs in 2016 and presently there are 48,000 (BACB, 2021). 

  • Demand for BCBAs doubled from 2012 to 2014 (Burning Glass Technologies, 2015).  It is anticipated that this demand has continued to grow. 

  • There are high rates of burn out correlated with low collegial support (Plantiveau, Dounavi & Javier Virues-Ortega)

  • Supervision processes affect client outcomes (Sellers, Valentino & LeBlanc, 2016)

    • Low quality supervision is hypothesized to lead to poor outcomes for clients.​

  • Ineffective practitioners perpetuate stereotypes for ABA as rote, robotic or damaging (Leaf or Sellers citation)

Why is high quality fieldwork is necessary?

  • It is standard practice for human services fields (i.e. residency for medical professionals, student teaching placements) for applied and rigorously supervised work to be part of training

  • ABA impacts the quality of life for clients: training practices must be rigorous and high-quality to preserve human rights and dignity.

  • The BACB has been promoting effective fieldwork practices by increasing fieldwork standards several times since 2012

What are some components of a successful fieldwork model?

  • Creating sustainable business practices (Hartley, Courtney & Rosswurm, 2016)

    • Behavior flows where reinforcement goes – make it easy for companies to buy in to high quality fieldwork

    • Increase caseloads of BCBAs by ensuring fieldwork trainees are able to take on more responsibility with mentorship

    • Tie initial components of fieldwork to competencies required for direct care – kill two birds with one stone

  • Adhering to science-practitioner model (Shawler et al 2016, Sidman, 2011)

  • Mentorship of soft skills as evidenced by changes from 4th edition task list to 5th edition task list

  • Focusing on skills necessary to perform job within identified scope (Garza, McGee, Schenk, Wiskirchen, 2018)

    • Identified as a priority by BACB who is creating subspeciality resources (

    • Addresses task list as it relates to on-the-job responsibilities rather than sequentially or in isolation

  • Builds on existing recommendations including:

    • Contracts

    • Skills Assessments

    • Competencies 

    • Feedback

    • Ongoing mentorship

What is our proposed model?

3 – phase model that integrates all the components above

  • Phase 1:  Fluency with direct-care/RBT role

    • Integrate initial staff training into fieldwork (organizational incentives)

    • Competencies within direct care role that are also necessary for their current assigned job

    • Improves client-organization relations by improving direct care staff training

    • Hypothesize that it would decrease turnover by providing support at a critical entry point

      • Allow organization to have a dedicated person to training as budgetary considerations allow which means BCBAs can remain client-focused 

  • Phase 2: Single case exemplar: Clinically-based research project

    • Science-practitioner model: researching, identifying a problem, identifying potential solutions, designing a program/sequence/experiment, analyzing data, problem-solving

    • Teach soft skills in a microcosm of 1 small project: public speaking, staff training, parent communication, writing, humility  

    • Ownership and accountability are powerful motivational tools: trainees are more likely to do work outside of their billable hours because they have ownership

    • Promotes dissemination and innovation within the field

    • Overseen by a seasoned BCBA within the organization

  • Phase 3: Generalization to BCBA-level tasks

    • Based off of apprenticeship from Hartley, Courtney and Rosswurm, 2016

    • By the time a trainee gets to this level, they have a foundation of direct care and have experienced the other skills that are needed to be a BCBA in 1 example 

      • Decreases variability in trainee competency to take on BCBA-level skills

    • Hartley, Courtney and Rosswurm have demonstrated the financial impacts of an apprenticeship model

      • Would like to further develop this point and develop a proposed business model but feel like we need to do more research here

  • Across all phases

    • Leadership and supervisory skill development for BCBAs

    • Utilization of Behavioral Skills Training

    • Contracts

    • Competencies tied to the current work

    • Check-ins and transitions between supervisors

    • Task list correlations

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