Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 44–51 | Cite as

Use of a Level System with Flexible Shaping to Improve Synchronous Engagement

  • Joseph H. CihonEmail author
  • Julia L. Ferguson
  • Justin B. Leaf
  • Ronald Leaf
  • John McEachin
  • Mitchell Taubman
Research Article


Level systems have been described as a framework which can be used to shape behavior through the systematic application of behavioral principles. Within level systems, an individual moves up and down through various levels contingent upon specific behaviors. Although level systems are commonly used within schools and other settings, they have a limited empirical literature base, and there is debate over the efficacy and overall acceptance of level systems. More especially, there is scant empirical literature on the use level systems to improve socially significant behaviors (e.g., synchronous engagement) with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a level system with a structured, yet flexible approach to movement on improving synchronous engagement with two dyads of children diagnosed with ASD. The results of an ABAB reversal design indicated that the level system was effective at improving synchronous engagement for both dyads. The results are discussed in relation to potential future research difficulties and clinical implications.


Level system Flexible Shaping Feedback Autism Engagement 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Partnership FoundationSeal BeachUSA
  2. 2.Endicott CollegeBeverlyUSA

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