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What is Precision Teaching in ABA Therapy?

Precision training is a system used for finding the meaning of and gauging the way behaviors are laid out.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 15, 2023
min read

What Is Precision Teaching?

Precision training is a system used for finding the meaning of and gauging the way behaviors are laid out. It involves the analysis and graphing of data using the Standard Celeration Chart, or SCC, to produce quick and worthwhile choices in attaining better behavior in patients. Precision training can be thought of as a system.

It's useful for any type of technique to change the behaviors in patients. This includes children with autism being taught to speak. For older individuals, it can involve people from all walks of life, from those playing sports to doctors.

Not fully understood by some, precision training is sometimes confused between the courses that are seen and their processes.The training gauges the prevalence of behaviors and skills.

Instead of taking note of success during the learning of new abilities, a therapist using precision training instead records the number of times they try the skill in an environment that's open.

In other words, skills are taught to be used in a setting that isn't regimented.

When attempts aren't perfect, they're recorded, including those which have no flaws. From there, the data is evaluated and shared with the patient, so that they can develop their skills at a quicker pace.

Even with precision teaching being created for kids with disorders like psychosis, the SCC can help with understanding the veracity of novel skills.

It's extremely helpful for ABA therapists as well. They can use precision training to learn how a patient's abilities are being remembered and used in areas away from the ABA clinic.

Examples of Precision Teaching in ABA

In an ABA setting, precision training can be an intervention of sorts, done with individual children. The procedure is usually carried out in a setting that's quiet, not noisy, and away from another area, the patient might find distracting.

Therapy sessions are conducted daily, guaranteeing that patients have time to practice and hone in on the skills which therapists have pinpointed, including the chance to expand what they learn and apply it to their environment outside of the center. Here's a point-by-point process in which precision training is used in ABA therapy:

  • Identifying skills - Skills that are meant for patients should be targeted. They often include the reading of words, simple math, or even the spelling of words provided to the patient on a list.
  • Assignment of courses - Courses are implemented in intervals, for example, ten minutes every day. Teaching and other activities are also partitioned.
  • Assignment of three days - When patients don't show progress for an assigned period, such as three days, the therapist's methods for teaching the course might be altered or adjusted.
  • A longer period for change - If in eight days the patient shows little to no progress, the rate of aim in teaching is changed.

Principles of Precision Teaching

The principles of precision teaching are done through the implementation of pinpointing the behavior, observing behaviors, getting pinpoint measurements, and using the SCC.

The principles are explained in detail below.Pinpointing the behaviorThis involves the engineering of an operational definition for the behavior that's being exhibited by a therapist.

Once understood, the behavior can be dealt with better results.In the use of an operation definition, one example is when a child picks up a pen in the hand that they use most often, or when they put the pen on a sheet of paper with the same hand.

This can apply when movement or words are made using the same dominant hand.

Observing Behaviors

Behaviors are always observed. Data is best gathered quickly. The shorter the intervals, the better, such as five or ten minutes. This helps immensely with accuracy.

Relying on a long period for observation may result in numerous mistakes, with less reliable data in the end. Confined periods also help to gather better, more precise behavioral data. It can result in useful decisions with therapists. The same applied to parents or teachers doing the same.

Precise Measurement

Behavioral data is best when taken through an approach utilizing a time and count. Accuracy is boosted this way. It's also called the use of duration and frequency. When done together, they will increase measurements and acceptance of data for parents, superiors, and researchers.

Using the Standard Celeration Chart

A precision tool, the SCC helps therapists show data on behavior and how it relates to their plans with teaching, and the way it's taken advantage of the benefits of patients.

Better choices can be made from this, including if new courses are needed, how long they last, and other important decisions regarding their treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Use Precision Teaching For?

Precision training is a skill that could be applied to both adults and children. It's most valued when skills must be learned that require some level of skill. This is shown when the skills are expressed at a rapid pace, with little to no hesitancy on the patient's part. For instance, a child's parent or teacher can use precision teaching when they wish to expand on the number of words that they know.

Who Developed Precision Teaching in ABA?

Precision teaching was created by Ogden Lindsley in the 1960s. It was described as a method for collecting data, with the frequency being the most preferred way.

Frequency is the number of times that behavior happens within an interval that's set by a therapist. If a behavior takes place 20 times within four minutes, it's rated as five behaviors every minute. From there, it's listed on the SCC, helping the teacher make hasty choices based on how skills are prescribed to a child.

Is Precision Teaching Evidence-Based?

Precision teaching is based on evidence as has been thoroughly scrutinized and studied by healthcare professionals, psychologists, and other third-party researchers. As of now, the most evidence-based procedure for gauging symptoms associated with autism is behavioral therapy. It uses theories that are shown to help people take on knowledge and alter poor behavior.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogden_Lindsley
  2. https://thinkpsych.com/blog/what-is-precision-teaching-aba/
  3. https://centralreach.com/what-is-precision-teaching/
steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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