Discrete Trial Training in a General Education Setting

I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach, train, and work with many wonderful general education and special education professionals within my career. One area of focus has constantly been modifying and working with learners who benefit from discrete trial. Especially in a general education setting, it can be difficult to work into an already hectic schedule of specials, academic blocks, interventions, and related services, as well as the curriculum that needs to fit within each day. I have found that it is important to remember that DTT is a part of the curriculum, only modified to meet a learner’s needs. Similar to those who learn best in a small group, some learners learn best 1:1 and in a DTT setting. In this post, I will review the ways that DTT can be embedded in a general education classroom as long as the team works together!
Discrete Trial Training is a method of teaching a new skill in a structured and simplified way. This method works because it breaks down a complex skill into smaller pieces. Reviewing the data from DTT helps the team make data-driven decisions and makes it easier to see which part of a skill is mastered before moving on to a bigger more complex skill. The team must sit down and review everyone’s schedules. Finding time to run a DTT station at least twice daily is most beneficial. This may be during stations, pulling the learner away during a large group, during small group times, etc. I recommend finding a time that works best based on each day. It does not have to be at the same time each day of the week. Running the DTT session at different times of the day will help the learner generalize the skills within the classroom as well as running the center with different adults, and moving to different areas of the school. 
Along with DTT, the team must be using the same error correction approach. We run error correction by giving a simple and direct statement to show what was the wrong response. If a student makes an error, we say “try again” and prompt the correct response. We remove the stimuli, present an incompatible directive, re-present the materials and the direction, and use the next intrusive prompt. An example would be having 3 color cards on the table, asking the learner to “touch red”, and they touch blue. We gesture to the red card, having the learner model the correct response. We clear the field, state “touch your head” and reinforce that correct response. I place the same color cards out in a different array, say “touch red” and gesture to the correct card. The next trial is tried for independence again. The goal is to end the error correction process is to get the correct answer on their own.


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