C-6: Measure trials to criterion ©

Target Term: Trials to Criterion 

Trials to Criterion 

Definition: A measure of the number of response opportunities (trials) needed to achieve a predetermined level of performance (the mastery criterion).  


Example in everyday context: You are trying to get better at basketball in your backyard in order to play with your kids. However, your basketball skills are not very good yet! It takes you 18 tries to get a basket the first time you practice.  

Example in clinical context: A client is learning how to tie their shoes in occupational therapy. The OT collects trials to criterion data on the steps required to complete the shoe tying routine during their daily sessions. It took 11 trials for the client to complete all the steps of shoe tying independently and accurately. 


Example in supervision/consultation context: A supervisor is using a trials to criterion measure their supervisee’s ability to accurately define 10 definitions from Chapter 1 in the Cooper text. The supervisor begins each supervision session by quizzing the supervisee, and collects data on whether or not the supervisee answers the definition correctly. It took 8 trials for the supervisee to correctly identify all 10 terms accurately. 


Why it matters: Trials to criterion can be used for assessing a learner’s competence in acquiring new skills as well as comparing efficiency of different treatment methods. If intervention A involves 8 trials to criterion, while intervention B involved only 2 trials to criterion, that information can be used to tailor instruction to the individual client in question.

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