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 MODULE: Prompting

Prompting Procedures

 All of the prompting procedures outlined in this module help learners acquire skills by systematically providing and removing prompts so that learners begin to perform skills independently. These procedures rely on reinforcing all correct responses – both those that are prompted and those that are not. The required steps for each prompting procedure (i.e., least-to-most, simultaneous prompting, graduated guidance) are described throughout the module. Implementation checklists also have been developed to guide and improve instruction. Once team members determine which prompting procedure is most appropriate for an individual learner with ASD, they should use the steps for implementation for that particular procedure.

Least-to-Most Prompting

The least-to-most prompting procedure is also referred to as the system of least prompts and sometimes as increasing assistance. With this procedure, a prompt hierarchy is used to teach new skills. The hierarchy is comprised of at least three levels. The first level provides learners with opportunities to respond without prompts. The remaining levels include prompts that proceed from least to most amounts of assistance. The last level should be a controlling prompt – a prompt that ensures that the learner responds correctly. This procedure can be used with both discrete skills (e.g., single skills of a short duration such as naming pictures, reading words, greeting peers) and chained skills (include a number of steps such as dressing and undressing, making a sandwich, and washing hands) (Godby, Gast, & Wolery, 1987; West & Billingsley, 2005).

Graduated Guidance

With graduated guidance, team members provide a controlling prompt (i.e., a prompt that ensures the learner will do the skill correctly) and then gradually remove the prompt during a teaching activity. This procedure differs from other prompting procedures because team members make judgments during the teaching activity based upon the learner’s response. As learners start to use the skills, the prompts are withdrawn, but quickly reinstated if learners regress, or stop using the skills. This procedure should only be used with chained skills that include a physical component (e.g., putting on a coat, washing hands). With these types of skills, numerous steps comprise one complete task. For example, when individuals wash their hands, they get soap, turn on the water, rub their hands together, turn off the water, and dry their hands. This is in contrast to discrete tasks such as saying your name or identifying letters, which require only one response (Alberto & Troutman, 1999).

Simultaneous Prompting

With the simultaneous prompting procedure, two types of sessions are needed: instructional and probe. In the instructional sessions, the task direction or cue (i.e., a signal to the learner to use target skill) and controlling prompt (i.e., prompt that ensures that the learner will do the target skill successfully) are delivered simultaneously. In the probe sessions, the cue or task direction is delivered without the prompts. The probe sessions are used to determine whether learning is actually occurring. Simultaneous prompting has been found to be one of the most effective near-errorless teaching procedures and is relatively easy to implement. Researchers also have indicated that simultaneous prompting can be used while working 1:1 with learners with ASD as well as during small-group instruction (Akmanoglu-Uludag & Batu, 2004, 2005; Colozzi, Ward, & Crotty, 2008; Gursel, Tekin-Iftar, & Bozkurt, 2006; Kurt & Tekin-Iftar, 2008).

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