Effects of Interventions Based in Behavior Analysis on Motor Skill Acquisition: A Meta-Analysis


  • Andrew E. Alstot
  • Minsoo Kang
  • Crystal D. Alstot


Techniques based in applied behavior analysis (ABA) have been shown to be useful across a variety of settings to improve numerous behaviors. Specifically within physical activity settings, several studies have examined the effect of interventions based in ABA on a variety of motor skills, but the overall effects of these interventions are unknown. Therefore, the purposes of the study were to use meta-analysis techniques to examine the effect of ABA-based interventions on motor skill acquisition in physical education and sport settings and to identify whether moderating variables influenced the overall effect. A search of electronic databases as well as a manual search of reference lists was conducted to identify studies that utilized ABA-based interventions in physical activity settings to improve motor skills. Studies that were conducted using single-subject design, used a behavioral intervention, and included a dependent variable that measured correct and incorrect trials of a motor skill were selected for inclusion in the meta-analysis. From the 22 studies that fit the inclusion criteria, necessary data were extracted and 188 effect sizes (ES) were calculated using the odds ratio formula. Moderator analyses on gender, age, ABA principle(s) used in the intervention, setting, and type of skill were also conducted. The overall ES log odds ratio (ESlor) was 1.49, indicating ABA interventions had a large effect on participants’ skill acquisition. Additionally, it was found all five moderator variables influenced the impact of the behavioral interventions on motor skills. Practitioners should note ABA-based instructional methods can positively influence the motor skill acquisition of their students and athletes.