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Products – DT Trainer – Assessing Generalization

Assessing Generalization from the Computer to 3-D Objects using the DT Trainer
Poster Session #183 (10), ABA Convention 2005
Alpine Learning Group
Summary / Response

This is a study of 2 autistic students to see if they can generalize what they learn on the DT Trainer to their physical world. One student did automatically generalize and the other student did not. There is a notion that autistic students do not generalize what they learn on the computer to their environment. The study result is consistent with customer feedback that some do and some do not automatically generalize. This result indicates that we need to teach generalization from the computer for some but not all students. Just as we have to teach 3D to 2D correspondence with many of our students with ASD, we will need to teach the correspondence from what they learn on the computer to their environment. Customer feedback indicates that they just need to teach some items to establish the correspondence and the students will generalize the skill just as they do with 3D to 2D. More studies are needed to fully characterize the generalization issue and to prove that generalization can be taught.

Software programs that use cartoons, drawings, busy screens, and single commands (SDs) would have more issues with generalization. What we find is that there is a strong correlation between effective methods off the computer and on the computer. For the same reasons that poor teaching practices off the computer will not lead to good generalization, poor teaching practices on the computer will also not lead to generalization. For computers to not have issues with generalization, we need to implement our effective face-to-face practices on the computer. The DT Trainer already includes some features to facilitate generalization. These features include randomized SDs, multiple exemplars, photo icons, non-distracting training environment, and multiple dimensions on a topic. These features probably are at least partially responsible for the level of generalization that is currently taking place.

We will add some additional generalization support to further enhance automatic generalization and make teaching generalization where necessary from the DT Trainer an intuitive and easy step for teachers and parents.

We thank the staff of Alpine Learning Group for this preliminary study and feedback that helps demonstrate the efficacy of the product and drives further improvements to better facilitate learning for these very special individuals.

Karl Smith, Accelerations Educational Software

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