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Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Applications of Motion Study in Developmental Disabilities: A Review

Author(s): Levan Lim, Chien-Hui Lin and Diane M. Browder
Source: Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Vol.
37, No. 1 (March 2002), pp. 105-118
Published by: Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities
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Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 2002, 37(1), 105-118
© Division on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

Applications of Motion Study in Developmental Disabilities:

A Review

Levan Lim Chien-Hui Lin

The University of Queensland National Chung-hua University
of Education, Taiwan

Diane M. Browder
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Abstract: Motion study is an engineering technology that analyzes human body motions. During the past d
(1990-1999) a series of studies investigated the role of motion study in developmental disabilities. This
reviews the literature on the applications of motion study in the field. A historical and conceptual rev
motion study leading to the current status of studies is presented followed by a review of the research liter
Two main eras of research focus were identified. The first era (1990-1995) of studies established the su
effectiveness and efficiency of tasks designed with motion study or motion study-related principles
traditional site-based task designs. The second era (1995-1999) of studies examined the interaction bet
motion study-based task designs and other variables such as choice, preference, and functionally equivalent
competing task designs and communicative alternatives. Our review found that applying motion
principles as an antecedent guide and practice to eliminating or reducing ineffective motions and simpl
effective motions resulted in positive task outcomes with most of the participants.

The engineering field of motion study refers The concept of applying motion stud
to the careful analysis of body movements and the field of developmental disabilitie
is used to optimize the motion sequence nec- been translated into research and prac
essary to complete a task. Motion study pro- during the past decade. Researchers ha
motes the efficient use of body motions vestigated the significance of intervening
through (i) eliminating unnecessary motions, motion sequences of different tasks
(ii) simplifying necessary motions, and (iii) formed by individuals with disabilities
establishing the most favorable motion se- Lin & ßrowder, 1990; Browder, Lim, L
quence. In the field of industrial engineering Belfiore, 1993; Belfiore, Lim, & Brow
where it originated, motion study has been 1993; Belfiore; Linl) & ßrowder, 1994)
used to facilitate movements so that tasks can these sludieS) motion study or motion stud
be performed with optimum ease and the rate rdated principles were employed to validat
of' production can be increased (Barnes, 1980; . , ,. . . ,, c
v time and distance variables of moüons re
Niebel, 1982). Industrial engineers also use . , r ,.rr . . , . ,
, , . , quired for different task sequences so that the
time study to measure and determine the stan
efficiency, or the required response effort, of
dard time to perform a task according to par
the task designs could be objectively com
ticular sequences of body motions. Together,
pared. The role of motion study in its inter
time and motion study provide a systematic
face with other task related variables such as
means to improve work through identifying
, . rC- ■ . ., . r . , choice, preference, and functionally equiva
the most efficient method to perform a task. r ' 1 1
lent and competing task responses h
been examined (e.g., Belfiore 8c To
brana, 1995; Lim, Browder, & Sigafoo
Correspondence concerning this article should „ , . 0 n n- ,nnm Tu
, ,, , . ' , „ „ • , t. , Toro-Zambrana, Lee, & Belhore, 1999). Ihis
be addressed to Levan Lim, Schonell special Ldu
cation Research Centre, School of Education, The paper provide
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland which motion
4072, AUSTRALIA. designing efficient task and task-related (e.g.,

Motion Study / 105

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use of communicative alternative to help with could learn complex assembly tasks through
task) responses. The historical and conceptual systematic behavioral strategies involving task
bases of motion study are first reviewed fol- analytic procedures (Gold, 1972, 1973, 1976).
lowed by a summary and review of relevant Gold noted that persons with disabilities, be
studies. cause of their limited learning and physical
capacities, were most likely to encou
„ ■ f ir- , i ted learning progress and fluency especially if
nej is ory tasks were poorly designed (Gold, 1978). By
The history of time and motion study can be the late 1970s, the conceptual emphases of
traced to the early twentieth century in the motion efficiency and task designs in the field
United States when individuals performed of developmental disabilities were widely ad
jobs according to their own idiosyncrasies. dressed and translated into practice for voca
The result was a large variation in efficiency tional rehabilitation (e.g., Bellamy, Horner, &
among workers. Taylor (1911), an engineer, Inman, 1979).
pioneered a "scientific rationale" to improve The 1980s saw a proliferation of research
work methods while working at Bethlehem studies that further demonstrated the combined
Steel Company. He noted that by doing a time utility of carefully analyzing task components
analysis, certain shovels for certain materials and using systematic behavioral strategies (such
used by the men at the company improved as prompting, feedback, correction, and re
overall productivity and time study was hence peated practice) to facilitate acquisition of task
born. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, who fol- performance. This type of instruction came to
lowed Taylor's work, extended the concept to be known as task analytic instruction. Many stud
the study of body motions. Frank Gilbreth ies have demonstrated the successful use of task
classified all production work performed man- analytic instruction to teach individuals with
ually into 17 fundamental motions (e.g., moderate and severe disabilities skills such as
reach, grasp, move) and called these "ther- daily living skills (e.g., Cuvo, Jacobi, & Sipko,
bligs" (a variation of Gilbreth spelled back- 1981; Day & Horner, 1986; Horner, Williams, &
wards). Frank Gilbreth first applied these con- Steveley, 1987; Lin, 1991), community skills
cepts to bricklaying and found that by (e.g., Shafer, Inge, & Hill, 1986; Storey, Bates, &
redesigning the task to use the most effective Hanson, 1984), leisure and recreational skills
therbligs, workers dramatically increased the (e.g., Halasz-Dees & Cuvo, 1986; Schleien & Lar
number of bricks laid per hour (Gilbreth & son, 1986), and vocational skills (e.g., Certo,
Gilbreth, 1917). Thus, with the Gilbreths, mo- Mezzullo, & Hunter, 1985; Test, Grossi, & Keul,
tion study was born. The Gilbreths also ex- 1988; Woolcock, Lyon, &Woolcock, 1987). Task
tended their work to individuals with disabili- analytic instruction emerged from being "state
ties (Gilbreth & Gilbreth, 1920). This part of of the art" in the 1970s to being "state of the
the work involved helping war veterans who practice" in the 1980s (Lin, 1991).
had lost limbs or their sight, to succeed in
occupations and achieve a level of self-sup
Methods of Designing Tasks
port. Perhaps because this was prior to the
advent of widespread services for people with Task analysis facilitates training by identifying
disabilities, their work is rarely found in the the task design method best suited to the in
disability-related literature on vocational train- dividual learner and the most efficient mo
ing (Browder & Lim, 1996). toric responses in constructing the task analy
Today, the consideration of efficient task sis steps. The construction of a task analysis is
designs for individuals with disabilities has ex- based on how the components of the task is
tended not only to persons with physical dis- identified and designed in a sequence for ef
abilities, but also to persons with developmen- ficient performance and completion. Several
tal disabilities. Mark Gold, one of the pioneers methods for identifying and designing the se
of applying behavioral strategies to job train- quence of a task analysis are noted in the
ing for individuals with developmental disabil- literature. These methods of developing task
ities, demonstrated in the early and mid 1970s analyses, however, are based on subjective no
that people with developmental disabilities tions and arbitrary standards of what consti

106 / Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities-March 2002

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tute efficient ways of performing tasks (Brown, prising the task design were subjectively de
Evans, & Weed, 1984; Haring & Kennedy, fined.
1988). The first method is the use of observa

tion or social comparisons. For example, Motion Study: An Objective Technology

Certo et al. (1985) observed bus persons un
der actual work conditions while deriving a In contrast to the subjective methods of iden
version of task analysis in teaching a student tifying and designing efficient task design for
with severe disabilities table-bussing skills. An- mats, the field of motion study offers a precise
other method used to develop task analyses is method to define both task design and mo
for the researcher to rely on his or her expe- toric movement. Motion study provides a tech
riences or practice in performing the target nology to analyze and simplify movements for
task. For instance, in teaching restaurant skills a tas'c so that 'he most topographically effi
to a group of students with multiple disabili- cient motion sequence is developed. Compo
ties, Van Den Pol et al. (1981) formed their nents of this technology that are relevant to
task analysis after self-recording their own be- t^1's re^ew include: (1) the fundamental hand
havior eating at various fast food restaurants. motions (therbligs), (2) the principles of mo
The third method relies on consulting the don economy, (3) method-time measurement
opinions of experts in identifying and design- of time and distance variables, and (4) its
ing efficient sequences of task analyses. For appl>cability to task-analytic instruction. These
example, Williams and Cuvo (1986) used components were applied in most of the stud
feedback provided by housekeeping and les reviewed in this article and are briefly re
. rr u l • i . j viewed in the following,
maintenance statt, behavior analysts and per- 0
• i j• , „ Vj x , Therbligs. The pioneers of motion study,
sons with disabilities to validate task analyses „ , . , , , 1
c i i-Ii ^ • r Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (1917), stated that
tor apartment upkeep skill training tor a .. , , . .
r i_ i.-/- • v r , any or all hand operations consist of some of
group ot rehabilitation clients. Ihe tourth r . .r .. . . „
, . . , . . n, 17 fundamental motion therbligs such as
method refers to using a combination of the . . _T. , , r i
_ , ° _ V4T . , grasp, reach, and move. Niebel (1982) further
above strategies. Schuster, Gast, Wolery, and ° r , . .. . , .„ .
^ rehned the concept ot therbligs by classifying
Guiltinan (1988), for instance, constructed
f liiilfirmn t 1 (JxW I t/xr nxctin/'Q rAnefructözf 0 '

these fundamental motions into effective and

task analyses to teach cooking skills to adoles- rr . , ... . ,.
' 0 meftective therbligs. According to Niebel, in
cents with intellectual disabilities by observing , . . cc . 1
' 0 order to come up with the most effective task
people without disabilities perform the skills ,. . , . ,
v r 1 design sequence, the task should be designed
and by consulting special education teachers in such a mann
who had previously taught cooking skills. are reduced Q
A movement training study by Browder, more effective a
Shapiro, and Ambrogio (1986) was the first achieved by f
attempt to adapt a concept typically used in motions in
industrial engineering to design efficient task analyzing th
analyses for training. After obtaining unsatis- and ineffect
factory results employing reinforcement strat- then be m
egies to increase production rates of workers bligs> simplif
with intellectual disabilities, the authors plying the p
adapted the concept of motion study to form enhancing th
a 41-step task analysis that yielded "the exact 17 therbligs
efficient movements required to execute the (1980), Nie
task" (p. 367). As a result, four of the five (1990).
workers who originally showed minimal im- The princip
provement when the trainer initiated rein- ciples of m
forcement or self-monitoring were able to pro- guidelines
duce desirable improvements with movement tion of the r
training. The limitation of Browder et al.'s the enviro
(1986) study is that while the idea of motion which the
study was applied, the task analytic steps com- These princ

Motion Study / 107

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the Gilbreths, further elaborated by others dent variable or intervention; (b) that the par
such as Barnes, and can be divided into three ticipants were individuals with developmental
basic subdivisions: (1) use of the human body, disabilities (i.e., with mental retardation, with
(2) arrangement and conditions of the work- mild, moderate, severe to profound disabili
place, and (3) design of tools and equipment. ties); and (c) that the study was published in a
These principles are listed and elaborated by refereed journal. These studies were identi
Barnes, Niebel (1982), and Browder and Lim fied by conducting a computer search of ERIC
(1996). and Psychological Abstracts data bases using
Method-Time measurement. Method-Time the descriptors:
measurement (MTM) is a motion study as- tion economy, disa
sessment procedure that can be used to response efficiency
specify a sequence of motions in a task de- sponse effort. H
sign in terms of therbligs. In addition, MTM ducted from refer
is used to evaluate the individual motoric cles. Our search uncovered seven studies that

response components in terms of time mea- met the three criteria described,
surement units (TMU), which are actually
values for types of motions based on dis- „ .
tance and difficulty level (Niebel, 1982). As
such, MTM offers a technology to quantita- A summary of the seven studies is provided in
tively assess the degree of efficiency of a Table 1. In this table, the summary informa
sequence of movements. Because MTM is tion of the articles is presented from earliest
capable of specifying the fundamental units to latest. For each study, tasks are described,
of a behavioral chain and evaluating the and information is provided on age, number,
individual motoric response components of and disability of participants. The dependent
the chain in an empirical manner, the ef- measures, research focus, and experimental
fects of the individual components on per- designs of each study are also described. Fi
formance of a skill can be determined and, nally, the results are summarized. The studies
where necessary, the individual components involved a total of 23 participants. Twenty
can be remediated through the principles of adults from between 26 and 58 years of age
motion economy. participated in six of the seven studies. Three
Applicability to task analytic instruction. En- adolescents between 12 and 16 part
gineers typically use time and motion study to the remaining study (i.e., Lim et a
redesign the layout of a job for increased pro- of the participants were described
ductivity. The engineer's focus is on the phys- moderate, severe or profound men
ical layout rather than on the worker's learn- tion, with two having physical disab
ing of the task. In contrast, when time and well (i.e., spastic quadriplegia an
motion study is applied to task analytic in- palsy). All the studies with adult p
struction, the focus is on improving the indi- were conducted in community
vidual's performance of the task. In most tional workshops except for Exper
cases, the redesign of task is followed by sys- Belfiore et al. (1994) that used c
tematic training of the new movements or based job sites. The study with th
other task design using systematic prompting cents was conducted in a special sch
and feedback (Browder & Lim, 1996). that were described in the studies either in
volved vocational, leisure, communication or
Method self-help skills. Vocational tasks were: placing
inserts into envelopes, photocopier use, fold
ing machine use, packaging wall hanging
Criteria for Selection of Studies Reviewed
hardware, vacuuming work sites, collating,
Studies were included in the review based on bagging ribbons, sorting, and filing. The
three criteria: (a) explicit purpose in applying sure task was using a paint well to pa
motion study principles (i.e., therbligs, mo- wooden models. The communication task
tion economy or other motion study related volved the use of a Prentke-Romich comm
principles) as a component of the indepen- nication symbol-sequencing device to activ

108 / Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities-March 2002

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Motion Study / 111

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requests and greetings. The self-help skill was application of motion study evident through
accessing a preferred snack item from a trans- the shift of research emphasis to consider the
parent plastic bag. interaction between motion study-based task
All studies used motion study (includes designs and other competing varia
therbligs), motion economy or motion study- choice, preference, and functi
related (i.e., Fitts' Law) principles and mea- lent and competing task designs
surements to identify and design efficient mo- nicative alternatives. These two er
tion study-based task analyses and task study research are reviewed separat
designs. Several studies (Lin & Browder, 1990;
Belfiore et al., 1994; Lim et al., 1998) detailed
Studies from 1990 to 1994.
how motion study measurement methods
(i.e., MTM) were used to evaluate and com- The first study by Lin and Brow
pare the total response components of mo- evaluated the use of a therblig-b
tions required, in terms of distance and diffi- only the hands) task analysis on t
culty levels, of various task designs (e.g., site- tivity rates of adults with severe
based versus motion study-based ones). In all dation in a vocational task of p
studies, motion study principles were applied into envelopes. A multiple-pro
to eliminate or reduce ineffective motions and ticipants was used to compare the
simplify or enhance efficient motions. Specif- ness of the therblig-based task an
ically, motion study principles were used to baseline performances. The dep
reduce the response complexity of both stim- sure was the number of correctly
ulus and response features of task designs, velopes produced per minute. T
through maximizing the visual, mental, and based task analysis resulted in
muscular control of motions (Antis, Honey- production rates as well as short (4 w
cutt, & Koch, 1973). For instance, in the wall long-term maintenance (15 week
hanging hardware-packaging task (Belfiore et performance levels. The next study
al., 1994), modifying the stimulus features of et al., 1993) compared the effe
the task design consisted of using a funnel to efficiency of therblig-based versu
slide a nail and hanger into a bag to replace site-based task designs for tas
picking up a nail and a hanger from a box to across three individuals with se
place in a bag. This stimulus modification of retardation. Two task designs of pho
the task design simplified and enhanced the and two task designs of operat
required response motions because a release machine (one therblig-based an
grasp (sliding the nail with a finger into the based design of each task) were
funnel) was motorically easier and faster than ing an alternating treatment desig
a pick-up grasp. By applying the principles of lication across participants. Each p
motion study to developing task designs that - photocopying (therblig-based
required less response requirement in terms (site-based), or photocopying (si
of effort, more efficient task designs were ere- folding (therblig) - were random
ated. for each of the participants. An alternating
treatment design with replications
Revieiu Format ticipants was employed to evaluate
centage of task analysis steps perfor
Overall, the seven empirical studies research pendently, training
involving motion study were published over and instructiona
the past decade. The first study was published signs were effect
in 1990 and the last in 1999. Two types of analysis steps but
research trends are apparent. Studies from signs were more
1990 to 1994 investigated the effectiveness structional time,
and/or efficiency of task designs based on criterion and e
motion study or motion study related princi- The third stud
ples versus traditional site-based task designs. tigated the ap
Studies from 1995 to 1999 contextualized the motion study

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mula, Fitts' law, to predict response duration baseline design across three groups of partic
across functional, repetitive tasks for a person ipants was used to evaluate whether the pro
with severe mental retardation and spastic duction of packaging wall hanging hardware
quadriplegia. Fitts' law is an algebraic motoric into bags could be enhanced with the intro
behavior model that describes a linear rela- duction of the motion study-based task design,
tionship between movement distance and an The dependent measure was the number of
index of difficulty (Jones, 1991). For applied correctly filled bags per hour. Results showed
purposes, Fitts' law is a response duration pre- that production increased with the use of the
diction methodology that suggests the dura- motion study-based task design. In the second
tion of a controlled response (i.e., movement condition, a multiple baseline across three
time) depends on the difficulty of that re- participants was utilized to evaluate the effects
sponse. The Fitts' equation yields an index of of a motion study-based method of vacuuming
difficulty for operant behavior based on the a carpeted area. The dependent measures
variables of (a) target stimulus width and (b) were the duration in seconds to vacuum a
target stimulus amplitude (i.e., movement of 1.52 m section of a carpeted aisle area (evenly
distance). This law is related to motion study sprinkled with baking soda which served as a
because it too considers the methodology of discriminative stimulus to determine cleanli
measuring time and distance variables. By ness as well as a deodorant), area left unvacu
varying either the stimulus width or the stim- umed on area, and average total distance vac
ulus amplitude of the tasks, high and low in- uum was moved (estimated by counting
dices of difficulty were obtained. Stimulus am- length of vacuum strokes captured on video;
plitude was held constant while stimulus width length was estimated by scoring strokes along
was varied to obtain a high and a low index of a fixed measurement grid). The motion study
difficulty for using a paint well and photocopy- based task design resulted in less completion
ing (vocational tasks). Stimulus width was held time, greater cleanliness, and less movement
constant and stimulus amplitude varied to ob- distance on the part of the three participants,
tain a high and a low index of difficulty for the
model painting (leisure task) and communi
Studies from 1995 to 1999.
cation sequencing task (communication task).
An alternating treatment design with reversal Unlike the previous series of studies which
components was used to assess the effects of focused primarily on establishing the effec
high and low indices of difficulty on the re- tiveness and efficiency of applying motion
sponse duration of the head movements study (therbligs, motion economy) or motion
across the defined tasks. The participant was study-related (Fitts' law) principles to task de
able to achieve faster response times across all signs, this latter series of studies refined and
tasks with lower indices of difficulty as pre- extended the role of motion study in interac
dicted by Fitts' law. This study highlighted the tion with other variables influencing task de
significance of modifying stimulus arrange- signs.
ments and features as validated by a motion Belfiore and Toro-Zambrana (1995) consid
study related principle. ered motion study-based task designs in terms
The fourth study (Belfiore et al., 1994) ex- of functional equivalence. Their theor
tended Lin and Browder's (1990) findings by that by identifying the function of a chain
comparing the efficiency of motion study- task and then training a functionally e
based task versus site-based task designs across lent (i.e., resulting in identical outcomes)
two conditions: holding time to completion more efficient response chain, the mor
constant while allowing trials to vary, and cient response chain will enhance atta
holding training trials constant while allowing the "critical effect" of the task with less
time to completion to vary. In addition, this tance, effort and time. To test this th
study (i.e., the second experiment) consid- Belfiore and Toro-Zambrana compared
ered the use of the human body with the task acquisition and fluency of two fun
guidance of motion economy principles. Until ally equivalent but topographically dissim
then, the studies involved only hand motions task designs for two vocational tasks (coll
(therbligs). In the first condition, a multiple and bagging). Two single subject altern

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treatment designs were used to compare the frustration that in turn could led to problem
effectiveness of the site-based and motion behaviors). Besides within-learner variables,
study-based task designs. The dependent mea- competition from without-learner variables in
sures of acquisition effectiveness were the the task context can also interact with motion
number of probes assessed to mastery, total study-based task designs to impact upon task
training time, and errors. Response fluency performance.
was measured in terms of time in seconds to Lim et al. (1998) extended the application
task completion. of motion study to functionally equivalent task
The more efficient motion study-based task designs to include functionally
designs had little or no effect in terms of communicative alternatives as we
number of probes assessed to mastery and both task designs and nonverbal,
training time; in fact, it incurred more errors five communicative responses involv
compared to the site-based task designs. The that are time and distance depend
analysis of the errors found that the errors idea of functionally equivalent forms o
resulted from the participants not adhering to with varying degrees of efficiency as
the specific sequence of motions required by by motion study became another
the motion study-based task designs. This was research. Horner, Sprague, O'B
especially the case with one of the two partic- Heathfield (1990) had demonstrated t
ipants whose history of the bagging task re- response efficiency of functionally eq
quired only right-hand movements as op- communicative alternative responses
posed to the use of both hands in the motion affected by the component of p
study-based task design. Experiment 2 of the sponse effort required in perform
study redesigned the task by minimizing left- graphically more efficient mot
hand movements and the participants re- ments, which in turn, affected the o
sponded immediately with a decrease in time of problem behaviors and the use of f
to completion. Fluency was enhanced by the ally equivalent alternatives. The alterna
motion study-based task design that took into sponse was successful to the extent t
account the characteristics of the participant. reduced response effort of the altern
This study highlights the importance of con- lowed the response to compete su
sidering and honoring learner input, partici- with other members within the same
pation, and feedback during task designing to class.
increase the "goodness of fit" between apply- If response classes, however, are defined by
ing motion study principles and learner char- their effect or outcome (Haynes 8c O'Brien,
acteristics and preferences. In Experiment 2, 1990), competition among behaviors both
once task mastery was achieved with the mo- within response classes and across response
tion study-based (and modified with learner classes can be explored in terms of the vari
input) task designs, decreased movement dis- ables that contribute to the competition (Hor
tance resulted in greater fluency, which, in ner & Day, 1991). To test the theory that
turn, resulted in faster job completion and competition can occur within as well as across
shorter session times. Belfiore and Toro-Zam- response classes of functionally equivalent re
brana (1995) point out that these outcomes sponses, Lim et al. (1998) extended func
may in themselves have been reinforcing (e.g., tional equivalence to include task design re
other options became available once the work sponses as well as communicative alternative
was completed). responses. The first purpose of the study in
The notion of a new task design competing vestigated the effects of two fun
with a history of performing a task in a partic- alent task designs related to
ular sequence of motions was raised in Bel- ferred snack item in a bag on
fiore and Toro-Zambrana's study. The inter- measures: nonadaptive behav
action of motion study principles, that focus and completed attempts. Fun
solely on reducing time and distance vari- lent alternatives were not availa
ables, with other within-learner variables, such of the study. The task design
äs hand preference, can produce undesired response effort occasioned lo
task outcomes (e.g., more errors may provoke nonadaptive responses and m

114 / Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities-Ma

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attempts during task performance than the In Experiment 2 of the study, the effects of
task design with the higher response effort. choice (between motion study-based and site
The second purpose of the study assessed the based) and no choice (assignment of the mo
effects of an efficient communicative alterna- tion study-based option) on the dependent
five on the three dependent measures men- measure of time completion (of the two tasks
tioned plus the measure of alternative use. in Experiment 1) were evaluated using an
Alternative use increased and lower levels of alternating treatment design counterbalanced
nonadaptive responses, attempts, and com- across sessions. Providing an opportunity to
pleted attempts were observed. The third pur- choose between the two task designs did not
pose of the study compared the effects of two result in decreased time to completion for
functionally equivalent alternatives - a more both tasks. This finding suggests that choice
efficient versus a less efficient alternative un- only affected productivity when assigned tasks
der the conditions of either the low response are less preferred than chosen tasks (Toro
(efficient) and high response (inefficient) Zambrana et al., 1999).
task design. Though mixed results were found
across participants in terms of dependent _.
r Discussion
measures for efficient versus the less efficient

alternatives, the results showed competition The work described in this article provides a
existed not only within each response class but summary of empirical research examining
also across the two response classes of func- motion study as an antecedent guide and
tionally equivalent task designs and alterna- practice in improving the efficiency of task
tives. This was evident in two of the three responses by reducing the response complex
participants' data in which independently ity of required movements. Seven studies were
completed attempts at the efficient low re- identified and these were divided into two
sponse task design were decreased propor- general areas of research focus. Studies in the
tionally to an increase in the use of alterna- first half of the 1990s provided the empirical
tives. That is, though the participants were basis for motion study to be considered as an
capable of accessing the preferred item objective technology for maximizing move
through the efficient task design, they chose ment sequences in tasks performed by individ
in several sessions to use the alternatives to uals with developmental disabilities. Studies in
access help with opening the bag. the second half of the 1990s helped define the
The last study in the series by Toro-Zam- role of motion study in relation to other vari
brana et al. (1999) examined the effects of ables that can impact upon task performance
response effort (validated by motion study and selection.
principles) and choice on vocational task se- Overall, the emerging research applications
lections. In Experiment 1 of the study, the of motion study to design interventions for
participant learned to master the steps for individuals with developmental disabilities
completing two functionally equivalent mo- demonstrate the benefits of this methodology
tion task designs (a motion study-based and a in improved task performance. In one of the
site-based task design) for each of two tasks earliest studies, Browder et al. (1993) asked
(sorting and filing). After mastery of the func- the question, "Is this a technology to pursue?"
tionally equivalent task designs was achieved, Because the application of engineering prin
choice assessments were performed across ses- ciples was novel to systematic training efforts
sions to determine which task design received in the early 1990s, only tentative conclusions
a higher frequency of selection. A concurrent could be drawn. After a decade of research, a
schedule embedded within an ABA design was set of studies now exists demonstrating the
used to assess task design preference as mea- benefits of direct and related task outcomes
sured by the cumulative frequency of task de- for individuals with developmental disabilities
sign (site based or motion study-based) se- across a variety of tasks when motion study
lected. Results indicated that the motion principles are applied as an antecedent guide
study-based task design received a higher fre- and practice in designing tasks for efficiency,
quency of selection over the site-based task In the seven studies, nine out of twelve exper
design. iments clearly produced better outcomes with

Motion Study / 115

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motion and time applications. While most of impact of these strategies as a form of "nat
these benefits have been demonstrated for ural" or environmental support in inclusive
vocational tasks, leisure and communication settings.
responses also improved with enhanced task Given the fact that virtually all tasks involve
design. distance and time measures of movement and
The research also demonstrates the need to that task analysis
proceed with caution. While improved task method for teachin
design can enhance performance, this emerg- that only seven stud
ing research also shows these outcomes can be method has been
influenced by other variables such as learner son some profess
preference, reinforcement history, and oppor- may n()t pur
tunities for choice making. Future research is . . , , r
° j i their lack or exposure to engineering princi
needed to determine whether enhanced task
ples. This reluctance may occur because of
design can have an additive effect to the im
either lack of experience in interdisciplinary
pact of choice, preference, and/or novelty. ... , ,.
., • j- A i i j i i j- applications or in difficulty in understanding
Also, some individuals with developmental dis- 11 7 °
abilities may prefer tasks that have been de
signed to be easier, but require new training; Understandin
whereas, others may prefer familiar task de- °§y does rerlu
signs. Research on these preference patterns principles. B
would also be useful for future applications of oped a simpl
this methodology. that describes these principles in practitioner
Caution is also needed to apply motion terms. Even with this understanding, develop
study fairly when used in work settings. When ing a therblig-based task analysis can be more
time and motion study was first introduced in complex than developing these response
industry, the focus was solely on business pro- chains through other means. Given the chal
ductivity. Fair labor practices would dictate that lenges professionals face, the "principle of
a business not just considers how to get an em- parsimony" often dictates using the simplest,
ployee to do more, but that the company also effective procedure. In contrast, using the
compensate this enhanced productivity and re- most efficient procedure may save training
spect the need for comfortable and safe working time making the initial investment of plan
conditions. Similarly, the use of motion study ning time worthwhile. An important area for
needs to be balanced with considerations of the future research is to evaluate the overall time
individual's preference, as evidenced in Belfiore investment of time and motion study inteiven
and Toro-Zambrana (1995). tions with traditional alternatives using mea
In contrast, the use of task design may be sures of both planning and training time A
a strategy to enhance job success for individ- » • , , • . , r .
. 7 J . . second issue to explore is the degree of ím
uals with developmental disabilities that can , , . r .
... r . . . plementation that occurs when professionals
minimize direct training time. As such, it . ..... . . .
_ „_ „ receive training in this methodology,
may be viewed as a form of natural support _ . . . , ,
r . . , . . i * . ... In conclusion, emerging research shows
for employees with developmental disabih- , t . . . . ?
ties (Rogan, Hagner, & Murphy, 1993). Sim- that aPP'>'mS Peoples of m
ilarly, in inclusive school and community lask desiSn ln ^eloping in
environments, planning the task design for individuals with developmental d
greater efficiency may minimize the need enhance task performance. A
for direct training. Unfortunately, almost all s'Sn may require more plan
of the research to date on this strategy has efficient learning may offset th
been conducted in specialized settings. task design may also make it
Minarovic and Browder (2000) provide an dividuals with developmental
informal description of an application to a perform tasks sooner in inclusive
community job context for an individual less trainer intervention. Mo
with moderate mental retardation. Data- needed to see if these potentia
based research is needed to evaluate the be achieved.

116 / Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilitie

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Storey, K., Bates, P., & Hanson, H. B. (1984). Acqui

sition and generalization of coffee purchase skills by Received: 1 November 2000
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tion for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 9, 178-185. Final Acceptance: 18 April 2001

118 / Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities-March 2002

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