Visual aids and structured criteria for improving visual inspection and interpretation of single-case designs

Wayne W. Fisher, Michael E. Kelley, Joanna E. Lomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


Because behavior analysis is a data-driven process, a critical skill for behavior analysts is accurate visual inspection and interpretation of single-case data. Study 1 was a basic study in which we increased the accuracy of visual inspection methods for A-B designs through two refinements of the split-middle (SM) method called the dual-criteria (DC) and conservative dual-criteria (CDC) methods. The accuracy of these visual inspection methods was compared with one another and with two statistical methods (Allison & Gorman, 1993; Gottman, 1981) using a computer-simulated Monte Carlo study. Results indicated that the DC and CDC methods controlled Type I error rates much better than the SM method and had considerably higher power (to detect real treatment effects) than the two statistical methods. In Study 2, brief verbal and written instructions with modeling were used to train 5 staff members to use the DC method, and in Study 3, these training methods were incorporated into a slide presentation and were used to rapidly (i.e., 15 min) train a large group of individuals (N = 87). Interpretation accuracy increased from a baseline mean of 55% to a treatment mean of 94% in Study 2 and from a baseline mean of 71% to a treatment mean of 95% in Study 3. Thus, Study 1 answered basic questions about the accuracy of several methods of interpreting A-B designs; Study 2 showed how that information could be used to increase the accuracy of human visual inspectors; and Study 3 showed how the training procedures from Study 2 could be modified into a format that would facilitate rapid training of large groups of individuals to interpret single-case designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-406
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Behavior analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Interrater agreement
  • Visual inspection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Visual aids and structured criteria for improving visual inspection and interpretation of single-case designs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this