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Allen Karsina

Adjunct Faculty
Office: NECC Campus, Autism Institue, Room 705
Website: https://necc.box.com/TrainingReinforcementOverview
(508) 481-1015 ext, 3149

I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has worked with children and adolescents for over two decades, and for much of that time I have also had the good fortune to be able to teach behavior analysis and research methods courses to graduate students.  As Director of Professional Development at NECC, I have a strong interest in research in staff training techniques, but I also have interest in learning more about reinforcement, skill acquisition, and choice.

I generally take between 2 - 4 new graduate students each year, and I look for students who are interested in learning everything they can about behavior analysis and who work well with others.  I encourage new students to get involved with ongoing projects in my lab, but also support students who wish to explore other areas of interest. 

For more information on the projects of my lab, use the link to my "website". 


Staff Training and Treatment Integrity

Staff training and treatment integrity are critical components for successful behavior change and skill acquisition. Even so, this remains a relatively under-investigated area. Which training techniques are most effective, efficient, and/or acceptable? What levels of treatment integrity are necessary for optimum outcomes? What techniques are most effective for increasing and maintaining high levels of treatment integrity? If high levels of treatment integrity are not practical over time in a given situation, what then? What are the ecological variables that affect treatment integrity? I am interested in exploring these and many other questions related to staff training and treatment integrity.

Skill Acquisition

Errorless learning techniques have been shown to be the most effective teaching techniques for many skills for children diagnosed with autism. However, some children with autism display prompt dependency - a tendency to wait for the prompts rather than initiating independent responses. Although there is some evidence that differential reinforcement of independent responses may be an effective teaching strategy to prevent or ameliorate prompt dependency, this area remains understudied. We currently have a line of research underway in our lab to evaluate the use of differential reinforcement for independent responses for children who do and do not display prompt dependency.

Identifying Effective Reinforcers

Identifying effective reinforcers for individuals diagnosed with autism can be challenging. Our lab has investigated a number of questions related to preference and reinforcer assessments, including the displacement of preference for healthful foods by snack foods and whether low preference healthful foods may still function as effective reinforcers for functional activities, conditioning verbal praise as a reinforcer using edible primary reinforcers and social reinforcers, assessing commons social consequences as reinforcers, and more.

Other Areas

We always have several ongoing projects active in our lab, and encourage new lab members to become involved in one of these projects. However, I am also open to exploring student interests, and we often have projects that were initiated by a student in the lab. Click on the "more" link below to see a list of current and past student projects.