This research was completed independently from Relias Institute by May Institute.


Surveillance data from the CDC indicates that 1 in 50 children has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. There is an increased need to disseminate effective interventions in an efficient and cost effective way. An Effective training program consists of didactic instruction, demonstration, hands-on training and coaching (Reid & Parson, 2002). Relias Learning online training was investigated and compared to traditional face-to-face training. Participants in the study include Teachers Aids, Direct Care Staff and Direct Therapists that work directly with individuals with autism. Participants were assigned to two groups, 1) Blended Learning (Relias Learning plus face-to-face training) 2) Face-to-Face Training (Train as Usual (TAU). Both groups completed a pre and post-test measure, The Knowledge of Behavioral Principles As Applied to Children (KBPAC) before and after the intervention. Results from KBPAC scorws showed that Relias training was as effective as face-to-face training for acquisition of basic behavioral principles. Comparison data from direct therapists shows that staff who participated in online training acquired more knowledge in the area of Discrete Trail Training (DTT) and Instructional Control than staff who participated in face-to-face training. Relias's online training also resulted in up to $2,000 savings per training for direct therapists.


Conference Presentation at Applied Behavior Analysis International Conference May 2014


Megan Robinson-Joy
Melanie Dubard


Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism, Blended Learning, Past


May Institute


Improving Staff Training Efficiency through Blended Learning

The impact of face-to-face vs blended learning on staff knowledge and training costs


Traditional didactic training conducted by senior clinicians competes with other responsibilities such as supervision and billable clinical activities. Online training using a blended approach can save an organization time and money but is it as effective as classroom training? A recent meta-analysis of online learning studies found that learners receiving online instruction performed better than those receiving face-to-face in-service training. A large provider of behavioral and educational services to individuals with disabilities (the May Institute) compares their Training As Usual (TAU) methods of classroom training vs a blended learning program that includes classroom training and Relias online training.




  1. Teachers aids working in an ABA-based school
  2. Direct care staff working in a residential program
  3. Direct therapists working in homes and public schools


A pre and post-test experimental design was used. Participants were assigned to a group that received online classroom training or “Training as Usual” (TAU) or to a group who received classroom training and online training from Relias Learning. This was called the Blended Learning (BL) group. The Knowledge of Behavioral Principles as Applied to Children (KBPAC) was used as the instrument of measurement. The KBPAC is a 50 item multiple choice test designed to assess the understanding of the application of behavioral principles to children (O’Dell, 1979).



Both groups completed the KBPAC before and after training. TAU group was assigned the typical training protocol at May Institute that includes 4 hours of didactic training and 40 hours of en vivo training in the field. The Blended Learning (BL) group completed the same training as TAU group plus 10 hours of online training through Relias Learning.


Results and Discussion

Pre and post test scores from the training modules showed that staff performed higher on the post-test across modules within all training programs. Results from the KBPAC scores showed that online training was as effective as live training for acquisition of basic behavioral principles. Comparison data from direct therapist show that staff who participated in Relias’online training acquired more knowledge in the area of DTT and instructional control than staff who participated in the TAU group. The Blended Learning was as and in some cases more effective than classroom training. Through online training 10-14 hours of training was provided without direct intervention from a supervisor. This saved the organization $2,000 in lost revenue for one training group.

training vs blended learning

KBPAC score results

Press Release