Pairing… We talk about it often in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). We always advise you to pair before placing demands, to pair yourself with things that your scholar likes, and to pair yourself with the families and caregivers that you may be in contact with.
So, what is pairing?
The pairing process consists of repeatedly presenting a neutral stimulus with a conditioned or unconditioned stimulus. After repeated presentations, or pairings, the neutral stimulus will “take on” the properties of the stimulus in which it has been repeatedly paired with. So what does this mean for us as students and practitioners? This means that if our scholar LOVES playdoh, we better repeatedly present ourselves with that playdoh so that we may take on the reinforcing properties of that playdoh for that learner.
Breakups, Perfume, and Playdoh, oh my!
This seems pretty straight forward while we have on our practitioner hats right? First, pair with the scholar, then begin placing demands and then continue to pair yourself with all the reinforcement.
What does pairing look like in our lives outside of work?
It looks like never going to that restaurant again because you’ve paired it with a bad breakup. It looks like spraying your pillow with your significant other’s scent when you miss them. Without us realizing it, we pair ourselves and other people and things with stimuli around us ALL THE TIME!
The key with pairing that we all must be mindful of, both in our work settings and lives outside of work, is that we can pair ourselves with stimuli that others don’t like. Remember that restaurant I mentioned with the breakup history? Or even think about that playdoh. What if your scholar hated playdoh and every time you saw them, you brought them playdoh to play with? We can all think of that one person that we just love to see go away! That is because they have been paired with something that may be aversive or at the very least displeasing to us.
Take a moment and think to yourself about what you may be paired with for each of the people that you come in contact with each day. Think of your scholars/clients, your spouse, your supervisor. Now think of one thing that you would like to be paired with. Go ahead and target that this upcoming week. Good luck! Tell us how you did below!
FREE BCBA®/BCaBA® Study Calendar:
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While studying for the BCBA exam, I found it extremely helpful to write my own flashcards. I thought to myself, “if only I had pre-made cards that had the term I needed to know, I could still get the practice of reading and writing my own definitions.” So, here you go! I want to go over how to get the most out of these flashcards by considering fluency and terminology grouping.
As you know, the BCBA exam is timed, so the faster you are able to identify the ABA terminology, the more likely you are to get the question correct. Moving quickly through the flashcards, and increasing your response time will increase your pace. After you write all of the terms and feel confident in their definitions, you should mix them up. Running through the cards mixed will give you a shorter latency, and build fluency!
One benefit to these flashcards is that all of the terms are categorized by related concepts, specifically by Cooper chapters. Studying the terms grouped by chapter will allow your brain to make the connection between concepts. Also, writing down the definitions in this order (rather than alphabetical) will keep you organized as you continue on your studying journey.
I found it extremely helpful to conceptually group the terms I was studying. After you finish writing all of the cards, then you can mix them up for a bigger challenge. Remember, the test is not categorized by terminology or chapter. The test will randomize all concepts, so to get the most out of these flashcards make sure you mix up all concepts so your brain gets used to switching around!
One study tip I like to share: Instead of focusing on how the terms are different from one another, try to discover their relationship. I realized ABA terms are all related in a giant web. Yes, some terms are different from one another, but conceptually they have more relations. Once I realized this the second time studying, concepts began to stick and I was able to apply the terms fluently.
How to use
- Print out the flashcards.
- Use a paper cutter (or scissors) to cut the flashcards. Keep them grouped by page! I recommend cutting them out as you go to help stay organized.
- Start at the beginning, which will start you on Cooper chapter 1.
- After you complete the flashcards, run through them in order several times.
- Once you feel comfortable with all of the concepts, mix and shuffle them to build fluency.
- Carry the flashcards with you and run through the flashcards any chance you get!
I hope you find this free tool useful in your studies! I recommend pairing these flashcards with Cooper readings when finding the definitions. I also recommend utilizing these flashcards with our course and 30 or 60-day study plan. In this study plan, you are given the Cooper page numbers that are associated with each task list and a clear study guide to follow.
All of the terms you need to study for the exam are downloadable here.
Reach out if you have any questions!
February is right around the corner- don’t wait to set up your BCBA/BCaBA study plan!
The biggest challenge for me while studying was navigating all of the information that was thrown my way. I was left with many materials and no structure. For example, you have Cooper, flashcards, the task list, practice tests, and other notes, but where do you start? All of the information can be a bit overwhelming.
Just like working out, set yourself goals for each day in small steps. Just like you set up goals for your clients, you want to make sure we are writing the appropriate, attainable goals for yourself. Of course, you should still add in a little reinforcement for the full effect.
Solidifying a study plan is key to a successful studying adventure. Don’t just start reading Cooper, because you may read too much for the day, or not enough. If you break down the material in smaller units and set yourself reading goals, this will help you review and feel like you have studying under control.
Here are 3 tips when creating a study plan:
1. Allow yourself “catch up” days.
Writing in catch up days will set yourself up for success and prevent you from getting behind. It also may just give you the break you need if you are caught up.
2. Do not cram the week before the test.
Do leave yourself 1 full week before your test to create your whiteboard, and review key concepts. I would recommend even 2 full weeks. If you start studying soon enough (at least 90-60 days before the test) you will retain the information. I have heard some people worry about losing the information they have learned. This is not the case if you start early enough. You will maintain the content if you pace yourself!
3. Group concepts together.
Group concepts together that are related. Check out our study plan included in our full course that breaks down exactly which tasks to study, which slides to review, and correspond with exact Cooper readings.
We took care of the hard part for you and put together a study calendar along with our 90 Complete ABA Prep course. You can check the course out here.
After you establish a study plan, set up reinforcement after each week. This will keep you encouraged and keep your momentum flowing.
Feel free to contact me for any further study tips!
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Well, here we are. You know why we are here. You failed. Maybe for the first time, struck down in the prime of your optimism. Or maybe you have been here before and you know these walls all too well. Go ahead, let’s cry it out.
Here are some playlists so you can drive around the city by yourself and ugly cry at stop lights. That cute dog in the car next to you is does nothing to cure the emptiness inside.
Not a car crier? Then pop one of these bad boys on and cry it out in the shower. Or lay on the bedroom floor and cry even harder when you realize how bad you need to vacuum.
Here are some playlists that can meet you where you are so you can wallow in self-pity.
1. Life Sucks:
2. Sad Indie:
3. Sad Vibe:
4. Down in the Dumps:
Get it all out, take the whole day if you need to. Then tomorrow is a new day. Wake up, brush your self off and get back at it. You’ve got this.
Today, some of you got your results… Whether they are what you wanted, or not, remember we are all in this together. We all want to make a positive influence on individuals lives using ABA. Luckily, most of you can continue to do that either way!
If you didn’t pass, keep practicing. This test is known for being a beast. It may have been 50 points, it may have been 5, either way you know what to study from here. Study like a first time test taker, and take this failed attempt as fuel for the next time. You WILL pass.
If you did pass, congratulations. You are on the other side. You will never have to test again! Now that you are a BCBA, you get to learn the clinical challenges and responsibilities associated with your certificate. Be proud, and support your fellow ABA buds!
Either way, you deserve to relax, unwind and treat yo’ self.