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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Prompting Systems - Topic 51

What is it?

A prompt is an antecedent stimulus used to elicit a correct response when it is paired with the discriminative stimulus (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007; Snell, & Brown, 2011).  Prompting systems including, most-to-least prompting (e.g., physical-model-verbal), least to most intrusive (e.g., verbal-model-physical), time delay, graduated guidance, and simultaneous prompts, provide information that lets a student how to perform the targeted task (Copeland, & Osborn, 2013; Snell, & Brown, 2011). Prompts can be provided by using verbal cues, gestures, modeling, and full or partial physical assistance (i.e., response prompts) or making stimulus modifications (i.e., stimulus prompts) (Cooper et. al., 2007).

Why is it important?

Educators use prompt systems in an attempt to reduce errors when a student learning new skills, thus increasing the probability of a correct response. Research supports use of prompting systems because prompting may help students with severe intellectual disability obtain a range of skills including communication, vocational, behavioral, social, and self care skills (Morse, & Schuster, 2004; Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Griffen, 1990).


Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Merill/Pearson.

Morse, T.E., & Schuster, J.W. (2004). Simultaneous prompting: a review of the literature. Education

and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 39, 153-168.

Snell, M. E., & Brown, F. (2011) Instruction of Students with Severe Disabilities (7th ed.) Upper

Saddle River, New Jersey: Merill/Pearson.

Wolery, M., Ault, M. J., Gast, D. L., Doyle, P. M., & Griffen, A.K. (1990). Comparison of constant

time delay and the system of least prompts in teaching chained tasks. Education and Training

in Mental Retardation, 25, 243-257.

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