Chaining is an instructional procedure used in behavioral psychology, experimental analysis of behavior and applied behavior analysis. It involves reinforcing individual responses occurring in a sequence to form a complex behavior. It is frequently used for training behavioral sequences (or “chains”) that are beyond the current repertoire of the learner.
The chain of responses is broken down into small steps using task analysis. Parts of a chain are referred to as links. The learner’s skill level is assessed by an appropriate professional and is then either taught one step at a time while being assisted through the other steps forward or backwards or if the learner already can complete a certain percentage of the steps independently, the remaining steps are all worked on during each trial total task. A verbal stimulus or prompt is used at the beginning of the teaching trial. The stimulus change that occurs between each response becomes the reinforcer for that response as well as the prompt/stimulus for the next response without requiring assistance from the teacher.