Work Behavior Training Strategies

for vocational training with students with disabilities

1. Start with initial orientation to task, environment, materials, appropriate dress and expectations: outcomes.
2. Design training sessions for success. Prior to beginning a work session discuss what will be done and what the reinforcement will be. The reinforcement needs to be tangible and accessible.
3.  Identify expected behaviors (vocational and social) in order to maximize efficient use of time allotted to do task. This should be reviewed frequently. This should be reinforced on the job whenever possible. (see work behavior rating form)
4. Be sure to set goals that the student will be able to reach (accessible) and the reinforcement is immediate ( tangible) and it's something that motivates the student
5. Once behavioral obstacles are identified, develop behavior plan to insure consistency amongst staff in addressing these behaviors.
6. Use verbal agreements or contracts when setting up what the task and reinforcement will be.
Use verbal and visual reminders during the task if the student is getting distracted, tired or losing motivation to complete the work agreement.  For example: After working for one hour we will take a coffee break, take a walk to get the mail, rest, fill out your time sheet so you get paid for the work done.
7. Prior to start of each task, based on task analysis, demonstrate appropriate operation/execution of task in slow graduated steps. (Well thought out) During training take nothing for granted no matter how simple the task might appear. (Backward chaining).
8. Teach one task at a time. Backward chaining: Complete a task sequence with the student and have them be responsible for the last piece in the task. During this time the staff person is doing the other parts of the task and explaining the task " getting the whole picture" Once the student has mastered a step, add the next step, and so on until the student is doing all steps of the task.
9. Through observation make note of any physical, cognitive and social deficits and be ready to adapt the job and/or develop compensatory strategies.
10. Use written or picture task cards to help with  memory and sequencing of the task procedure. Possibly, have a check off sheet that the student can use to check off each step as it has been completed. This gives the student a visual guide to see their progress and how close they are to completing the task ( helps deal with fatigue).
11. Develop weekly schedules to be distributed to and discuss with students.
12. Ratio of one teacher/trainer to two students (1:1 even better).
13. Be extremely sensitive to safety issues. (i.e.. allergies, medications, physical sensitivities and limitations etc.
14. Always be certain that necessary materials and equipment are: 1.) available at the beginning of the work period, and 2.) that students, with assistance when necessary, put all materials back in appropriate storage area.
15. Use common sense when assigning job sites.
16. As trainers it is essential that you are well organized and fully understand expected outcomes.
17. Try and treat students as workers not children.
18. Data collection is very important.
19. Try not to intervene immediately, using common sense. Allow student some time to either work out the problem or ask for assistance.
20. Comments made daily should be concise and relative to weaker areas. Be specific, NOT general. From these comments goals and objectives with emerge and subsequently tightening up you training program. Again, DO NOT assign too many tasks.
21. Be consistent with developing organizational and teaching strategies, students learning will be enhanced..
22. When teaching a task, keep it specific, simple, demonstrate, monitor and then intervene.
23. Practice with and repetition of activities, as well as feedback on performance, will strengthen the student's confidence to do the job.
24. Most importantly focus a lot on behavior in a new environment coupled with new expectations- you might discover different aspects/behaviors relative to students.
25. Focus primarily, where necessary, on behavior. Vocational skills will emerge as behaviors are controlled.
26. Each day should start with review of training. If appropriate, follow up discussion is very helpful.
27. When you are instructing always ask questions particularly during orientation to the job.
28. Very Important: As you observe students working try and determine need for use of OT, PT, speech , etc.

Backward Chaining

 Steps in a task analysis are taught one or a few at a time with the last steps in the sequence taught first.  The trainer performs the initial steps up to the one which the client is learning and the client completes the remaining step(s).
     Example:  (Backward Chain):  "Put belt on," might be broken down into:
                1. Individual threads belt through last loop (trainer does first four loops).
                2. Individual threads belt through final two loops (trainer does first three loops).
                3. Individual threads belt through last three loops (trainer does first two loops).
                4. Individual threads belt through last four loops (trainer does first loop).
                5. Individual threads belt through all five loops.

back to homepage