Session 1

The Power of Prompts – Steve Martin
Training is best accomplished through clear communication between a trainer and a learner. A prompt is an effective form of communication to help a learner understand criteria for reinforcement during the shaping process. Prompts are things we do to increase the likelihood a specific behavior will occur. An important aspect of using prompts is to fade them as soon as possible, otherwise the prompt will become a cue and the learner relies on the stimulus to know when to perform the behavior. This presentation will explore the types and proper application of prompts in the training environment.

Session 2

Prompts and Their Use in Shaping – Steve Martin
Shaping involves reinforcing successive approximations of behaviors toward a goal behavior. Trainers employ a variety of strategies when shaping behaviors which are influenced by current conditions, learner history and trainer experience and preference. This presentation will explore various shaping strategies, including the use of prompts and prompt-free shaping techniques.

Session 3

NEI TEC in Conversation – Steve Martin, Chris Jenkins, Tim Van Loan, and Amy Fennell
A panel of NEI TEC faculty members gather to have a conversation about their thoughts from “The Power of Prompts” and share their anecdotes and experiences involving the use of prompts in training animals and shaping behaviors both at NEI and as consultants at zoos around the world.