It is difficult to run a successful ABA practice these days without the help of practice management software. Software companies will typically provide you with initial trainings, but what happens once your training is over and you need to train new staff on how to use your newly purchased software? Do you have an efficient staff training procedure in place? If you do not currently have one, don’t worry. We will review some tips that can help you formulate an effective plan to train your staff long after your implementation training has been completed.
Assign a Dedicated Trainer
Having a dedicated trainer within your company can be a valuable asset as it will help ensure that training is readily available and remains consistent whenever it is needed. It is typically considered best practice to have multiple trainers, if possible. Doing so helps prevent potential setbacks such as the trainer falling ill, going on vacation, or worse yet, leaving the company.
Consider Using Behavioral Skills Training (BST)
Behavioral Skills Training, also commonly known as BST, is an empirically proven and highly effective teaching methodology used to help teach new skills (Leaf et al., 2015). The four basic components of BST are instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback. When properly integrated into a training program, BST can help simplify tasks and promote the acquisition of new skills. When teaching your staff how to use practice management software, BST can be simple to implement and execute.
Step 1: Instruction
Recent research indicates that computer-based instruction (CBI) can be as effective as in-person instruction when using BST (Campanaro et al., 2022). Whether you are using in-person verbal or computer-based instructions, be clear on the tasks that need to be performed. A step- by- step break down of the required tasks is recommended as it helps to reduce the potential for mistakes. Once you have formulated the instructions, imagine yourself as the trainee. Do the instructions make logical sense? Are they easy to follow? These are questions you should ask yourself before presenting them to a trainee.
Step 2: Modeling
Perform the task while your trainee observes and show them how you expect them to execute it. With tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, the trainer no longer needs to be physically present to model the task. Setting up a virtual meeting where the trainer can share their screen, provide step-by-step instructions, and model how each step is performed should suffice for most trainees.
Step 3: Rehearsal
Now that you have shown your trainee how to perform the task, it is their turn to show you that they can perform it independently. I’m a firm believer that we learn more by doing than watching alone, so evaluate how your trainee performs the task. Feel free to intervene and guide them toward the correct step if they seem lost or do not remember a particular step. The ultimate goal isn’t to judge their performance but rather to help them learn how to perform the task correctly and efficiently.
Step 4: Feedback
One of the most essential steps in BST is providing constructive feedback. This is not the time to tell them all of the things that they did wrong. Instead, use this opportunity to provide them with feedback on what they did correctly and let them know what they can do to improve. Keep in mind that using software may be easier for some but can be more challenging for others. Being patient and supportive during this important step can help your trainee move quicker towards fluency.
Formulating a plan to properly train your staff on using practice management software once your initial training is completed can be challenging for many ABA organizations. However, having a dedicated trainer and using a science-based approach can help mitigate some of those challenges if carefully planned out. Consider the training tools and resources available to you, as the value they provide may prove to be just what you need to help your organization continue to grow and scale.
Gabriel Lorie, M.S., BCBA
Customer Success Lead, CentralReach
Gabriel Lorie, M.S., BCBA, is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with experience in business, behavior analysis, software and technology. Early in his career, he began to focus his efforts into combining his knowledge in business and behavior analysis in an attempt to improve the work environment in the areas of performance and leadership. His experience includes working closely with ABA start-ups and partnering in the development of their businesses. With more than two decades of combined experience in business, behavior analysis and software, he is passionate about combining all three areas in an effort to further disseminate the field of behavior analysis.
Leaf, J. B., Townley-Cochran, D., Taubman, M., Cihon, J. H., Oppenheim-Leaf, M. L., Kassardjian, A., et al. (2015). The teaching interaction procedure and behavioral skills training for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: A review and commentary. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2, 402–413. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40489-015-0060-y
Campanaro, A. M., Vladescu, J. C., DeBar, R. M., & Deshais, M. A. (2022). Using computer-based instruction to teach implementation of behavioral skills training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 56(1). https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.962