Let me start this blog post off by saying mistakes are proof you are trying. If you read this list and realize “Hey, I make some of these mistakes…” don’t fret. If anything, be proud of yourself for learning how to prompt your students correctly.
Learning prompt procedures can be tricky. Here are the five most common mistakes I see being made when prompting students.
Mistake #1: Not understanding the prompt hierarchy/types of prompts
When using prompt procedures, it is critical that you know and understand what that prompt level looks like. It is also important to know the topography of prompt level above and below so you know how to fade or further support.
Starting at the bottom of the hierarchy:
Full Physical: Any time you are fully physically intervening with a student. I like to think of it as if your full hand is on a student, that is a full physical prompt. (ex: hand over hand during writing, lifting a child under armpits to have them stand up, walking in the hallway with a hand on their back to guide).
Partial Physical: A “support” or tap of a student’s physical body. (ex: wrist support while writing, tapping an elbow to finish pulling coat on, tapping behind knee to have the student stand.)
Modeling: Showing the student what you want them to do, literally act it out!
Gestural: pointing, waving, or signaling in anyway toward the correct response.
Verbal: a spoken directive.
Visual: pictures, highlighting, proximity, sizing of stimuli.
Mistake #2: Prompt Dependency
This is the most frequent mistake I see. Prompt dependency means that the student waits for a teacher to prompt a response before independently attempting. This is frequently a sign that the level of support was never faded or was not faded properly. Many students will also generalize prompt dependency across skills (ie: If the teacher helps me during that task, they will help me during this one too)
Many students are so accustomed to always having high levels of support that they become reliant on the prompt. This does not mean that they can’t do it without the prompt, they may just not initiate the activity without teacher intervention.
Remember, the goal of prompting is to get a student to a place where they can complete the task independently!
Mistake #3: Prompting the Wrong Target
When we create academic programming, it is important to always mark what prompt level you are working on but also which response should be prompted. Especially if you are working in field of two or more, it is really important to know which is the target response.
When we prompt the target correctly, that leads to correct target learning. If the wrong response is repeatedly prompted, the student will learn the incorrect response as if it was the correct one.
Mistake #4: Prompt Delay
Depending on the student, you may want to introduce prompt delay. This means you give the student time to process and potentially answer the question prior to prompting them. When using prompt delay, stick to no more than 5 seconds. That way, you can ensure that the student not only remembers the question but also gets an opportunity to try on their own.
Mistake #5: Not Fading Prompts
Remember, the goal of prompting is to get the student as close to independence as they can. No prompt is meant to be long term. To read more about prompt fading, check out my post here!
Any other questions about prompting? Let me know!