Many students find it difficult to generalise skills learned and performed in one setting to another. That is, a student may learn skills in the classroom but have difficulty using this new skill in the playground or assembly hall. It can be helpful to build in generalisation strategies so that students learn to use new skills in different environments and with different people. ‘Training diversely’ is a way of making the generalisation strategies more systematic and explicit.
Using the strategy
There are different ways to help students generalise skills after they have learned them in one setting. These can include the following.
Diverse places: Teach skills in a range of environments. If the skill has been learnt in the classroom, choose another location to teach the skill. For example, if a student has learned to greet peers at the start of the day in the classroom, you could teach them to greet peers at the start of the day in the playground.
Diverse people: Look for opportunities to practice a skill with a new person, for example learning to put up hands when answering a question with the library teacher as well as the classroom teacher. Greeting skills could be practiced with the office staff, requesting could be practiced with canteen staff.
Diverse teaching methods: Think about whether you can start to change the prompts you use (see the
prompting factsheet) or think about changing the reinforcement when the skill is learned, e.g. give a class point instead of a high five or vice versa.
Diverse cues: Identify ways to help students use prompts in the environment to cue them to use new skills. For example, once a student has learned to come to class after recess when instructed, teach them to notice the bell ringing and come to class when they hear it.
Diverse reinforcers: Think about using a range of reinforcers that are appropriate to different environments. For example, the student may get a high five from the class teacher and a library sticker from the library teacher for the same skill or behaviour.
It is important to take these steps slowly and carefully. Choose one aspect to change at a time, e.g. person, place, cues etc. and make sure the student copes with the change and that the skill continues.
This is appropriate for the following age groups:
- high school.