What Is Behavioral Skills Training?
Behavioral skills training or BST involves Modeling, Instructions, Rehearsal, and Feedback. It is used in teaching many different skills.
Behavioral skills training is a psychological practice which allows authority figures to teach others (typically humans) skills such as child rearing, clothes washing, dog training, or even how to brush your teeth. There are four components of behavioral skills training (BST): modeling, instructions, rehearsal, and feedback.
Modeling involves showing the subject how the skill is done. It is important that when the model engages in the skill, it is obviously reinforced with something which would reinforce the subject. The model needs to resemble the subject in some way, same color hair, age, circumstances, etc. The model also needs to exhibit the behavior in a number of different circumstances to increase the chances of generalization later down the road.
Instructions should be given after modeling in order for the subject to thoroughly understand the process which they are expected to engage in. It is important that the instructions are not too complicated for the individual to understand, nor too simple, or else the subject will feel as if they are being patronized. The subject needs to be paying attention when the instructions are given and be able to repeat the instructions to ensure understanding.
Rehearsal is the stage which shows the trainer that the learner thoroughly understand the process. It is important that the learner is reinforced the first few times that they rehearse the behavior in order for the behavior to be repeated in the future. The rehearsal should also take place in the proper circumstances, similar to those which will typically be employed when the behavior is desired.
Giving feedback is the last and most important component of BST. The positive comments should be given first, and they should be detailed, and additional reinforcers should also be supplied. Negative comments which allow for improvement should be given gently and in moderation. Only reprimand one portion at a time per rehearsal, or else the subject will feel overwhelmed.
If you follow all these steps you will be able to teach someone (or an animal) many difficult and complicated tricks in no time at all. Be careful to identify a positive reinforcer which can be used in the training, and then to implement strategies that will promote generalization. Take the four processes slow as to not reach ratio strain, and make sure the learner is paying attention at all stages.