Research & Program Update from Columbia University: CABAS® Schools
The CABAS® systems approach to schooling (established 1981) is a learner-driven and system-wide application of the sciences of behavior, pedagogy, and schooling to all of the roles of schooling (students, parents, teachers, supervisors, administrators, and boards of education) for teaching all aspects of the curriculum. It is based on, and continuously modified by, research and continuous close reliable measurements of the results of schooling for the individual learner and currently generates over 1 million data points monthly. Five of the schools serve as research, demonstration, and training sites for the 40 M.A. students and 21 Ph.D. students in the Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis at Columbia University, Teachers College. The schools serve typically developing children and children with native disabilities (i.e., autism spectrum disorders) from 18 months through middle school. All of the schools are publicly funded. The model has been applied to ten schools in this country (general and special education), England, Ireland (only for children with autism spectrum disorders), and Italy. The evidence to date shows that students learn from 4 to 7 times more when the model is fully in place than they did in pre-CABAS baselines or control groups (Greer & Keohane, in press; Greer & Keohane, 2004; Greer, Keohane & Healy, 2002; Greer, McCorkle & Williams, 1989; Selinski, Greer, & Lodhi, 1990). CABAS® was cited by the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies as one of the eight existing educational models shown to be measurably effective (Greer, 1998). We also provide general education CABAS classrooms that provide a model for inclusion of children with autism spectrum disorders in which both the general and the “included” children receive teaching as applied behavior analysis
There are at least two broad areas of research in the “treatment “ of autism spectrum disorders. The first is concerned with the medical sources of the disorder. However at present, the diagnoses is purely behavioral hence, whether or not we are dealing with multiple medical diagnoses is still in question, at least in my reading of that literature, of which I am not an expert. The second has to do with research-based educational interventions that have proven effective in advancing children’s educational and developmental capabilities..
For me, the most exciting new work in educational interventions concerns verbal behavior analysis based on Skinner’s (1957) theory of verbal behavior. We have been involved in research in this area for over 20 years and recent work identifies ways to advance verbal development including the acquisition of several types of generative or productive verbal capabilities and the accompanying improvements in social development. Some of this work is summarized in an article available on the web (Keohane & Greer, 2005 and 2006). A book scheduled for publication in 2007 will spell out the procedures from this research for practitioners to use with children with a range of language delays (Greer & Ross, in press).#
R. Douglas Greer, PhD, SBA, SRS is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis, Professor of Education and Psychology, Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Coordinator of the Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis.