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Experimental control is the degree to which the same intervention can be shown to have a predictable effect on behavior. The point of experimental control is to demonstrate a functional relationship between a behavior (dependent variable) and intervention (independent variable). 

In applied behavior analysis, (ABA) behaviorists are constantly validating that interventions work by analysis and experimentation. If a behavior change only occurs once, it is very difficult to determine a functional relationship or causation. Repeatability or replication is what best demonstrates experimental control. 

Internal Validity 

Internal validity is the extent to which the researcher can show that the behavior change that occurred during an intervention was a direct result of the manipulation of the independent variable. Simple put, was the treatment the cause for the behavior change. 

Confounding Variables (Extraneous Factors)

Confounding variables are anything that occur outside of the treatment that could affect the experiment. The goal of any experiment is to limit these factors but they can never be completely avoided. Some examples of things that could affect an experiment are: 

  • The air conditioner is broken.
  • A child has a tantrum at home prior to an intervention taking place.
  • A child is not feeling well.
  • A child did not get a lot of sleep that night.
  • There is noise outside of the intervention room.

As you can see, these are all factors that are not part of the experiment. You want to limit these factors to whatever degree possible to ensure the study has internal validity. 

This article is useful for registered behavior technicians (RBT) or students who are studying to become board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs). Understanding (Applied Behavior Analysis) ABA terms is critical for both being an effective ABA therapist and passing your BCBA exam

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In an effort to help you study for your BCBA exam more effectively, this post is written in a “study note” form rather than as a long form blog post. 

They are my personal study notes I am sharing with you as a gift. I am spending my time studying so they are not edited. I am grateful for your understanding in overlooking the grammar! Happy Studying! 

References

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.

Let’s Study Together

Our 5th ed. Task List Crash Course is designed to prepare you for the BCBA® exam. We created the ultimate “Task-List Take-Over” by systematically breaking down the components that comprise the 5th ed. Task. This course is equipped with a vast collection of informational content videos presented by Dr. Katherine May, Ed.D., BCBA and Jessica Leichtweisz, BCBA. This course is pre-recorded for the accessibility of downloading and watching at your own convenience. We tactically tailored the 5th ed. Task List Crash Course to fit comfortably into your own individualized study schedule and routine. The course videos are strategically designed to promote self-paced instruction equipped with data sheets to self-monitor your progress. In addition to the videos, practice exams, and preparation resources are included which are not only informative but also challenging to ensure sufficient preparation for the “real” exam. We are confident that completion of this course and included mock exams and resources will certify that you’re thoroughly prepared for the exam.

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