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Further investigation of continuous and discontinuous data collection methods during discrete trial training
Previous research suggests that continuous data collection is the most accurate, but generally less preferred regarding efficiency and ease of implementation compared to discontinuous recording methods. Also, the effects of continuous and discontinuous data collection methods on skill acquisition and maintenance has shown mixed results. The purpose of this study was to examine differences across three discrete trial training data collection methods (continuous, first trial only, estimation) on accuracy, efficiency, and maintenance of skills across each data collection method. Behavioral technicians taught three children (ages 26-31 months at the start of the study), who are at risk for autism and received behavioral intervention services, multiple target skills (e.g., one-step directions, conditional discriminations). One third of the targets were measured using continuous data collection, one third of the targets were measured using first trial only data collection, and one third of the targets were measured using estimation. Additionally, we examined the influence of the number of targets (one or three) taught within each session on acquisition. Although continuous data collection was the most accurate, results showed that estimation data collection was close in correspondence to continuous data. Results also showed that participants maintained all mastered targets at the time of the maintenance probes regardless of data collection method.