Using Pyramidal Training to Address Challenging Behavior in an Early Childhood Education Classroom




Thompson, Courtney
MacNaul, Hannah

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Challenging behavior exhibited by students in a school setting is one of the most significant obstructions to student learning. These behaviors often warrant specialized interventions delivered by educators in the presence of typically developing peers; however, the availability of personnel to prepare educators to implement said interventions is limited. One viable solution may be to leverage a pyramidal training model in which training is provided in tiers, allowing for more individuals to be trained within a shorter period. In the current study, one researcher utilized pyramidal training to prepare four educators to implement functional communication training without extinction to decrease aggression toward peers for one student in an inclusionary early childhood education setting. With written instruction only (similar to what a teacher might receive as part of a behavior intervention plan), all educators implemented the intervention with low fidelity (M = 15% steps completed correctly). Post-intervention, all educators were able to implement the intervention with the trainer at or above 80% fidelity, and skills improved to 100% fidelity during in situ training with the student. For the student, aggression was completely decreased to zero levels, and functional communication responses increased. Moreover, all results were maintained after the holiday break without additional training. Implications for research and practice will be discussed.



pyramidal training, extinction, functional communication training, early childhood education, school


Education Sciences 13 (6): 539 (2023)


Educational Psychology