What is The Pyramid Approach to Education®?

The Pyramid Approach to Education is a comprehensive framework for establishing and supporting effective learning environments. Designed by Andy Bondy, PhD, and based on the principles of functional applied behavior analysis (ABA), The Pyramid Approach offers a solid foundation for those who teach in education, work, home or community settings. This unique model benefits individuals with developmental differences, autism, communication challenges and/or other learning complications across all ages.

Maximizing learner outcomes requires not only information about what and how to teach – it requires a plan to put all the pieces together.  The Pyramid Approach provides a clear guide for everyone on the team to determine what elements to address in a specific order. Just as building a pyramid begins with establishing a firm foundation before constructing the body of the building, the Pyramid Approach begins with a strong foundation, relying on a science-based approach to teaching.

The Pyramid Approach involves a distinction between structural and instructional components.

The structural elements form the base, creating an environment conducive to learning. These foundational elements include:

  1. Functional Activities
  2. Powerful Reinforcement Systems
  3. Functional Communication and Social Skills
  4. Addressing Contextually Inappropriate Behaviors (CIBs)

The instructional elements form the top of the Pyramid and include information relevant to the creation of effective lessons. The top elements include:

  1. Generalization
  2. Lesson Formats
  3. Teaching/Prompting Strategies
  4. Error Correction (uniquely developed and suited to specific prompting strategies)

All elements involve data-based decision making, requiring both systematic data collection and analysis. When all of the elements are combined, the approach results in success for staff, parents and students. By implementing the Pyramid Approach to Education you will build an effective learning environment that will result in progress and increased independence.

The Pyramid Approach emphasizes the “why” of learning and “how” to teach rather than simply “what” to teach, allowing each learner’s program to be individually tailored to meet their learning goals.

The “what” of teaching
Critical components to encourage independence across all environments
The “how" of teaching
Systematic strategies to maximize an individual’s learning outcomes
Functional Activities
Lessons to develop independence using materials designed to promote practical use and long term skill development
Powerful Reinforcement Systems
Visual systems to mediate access to powerful reinforcers
Functional Communication
Communication skills necessary to develop independence embedded within activities across the day
Contextually Inappropriate Behaviors
Identification of the functional control of contextually inappropriate behaviors with a focus on teaching and supporting equivalent replacements
Long terms goals are planned before start of teaching addressing both stimulus and response features
Effective Lessons
Distinguishes between and identifies lesson types including discrete versus sequential lessons, as well as teacher- versus learner-led lessons
Teaching Strategies
Describes a set of evidence-based strategies that may involve shaping or the use of prompts along with clear effective strategies to remove prompts
Error Correction
Systematic use of error correction strategies designed to promote learning opportunities and to match the strategy to the lesson type
To learn more about how you can use the Pyramid Approach to build more effective learning environments we recommend attending Pyramid Approach Training or contacting us to schedule Support Services.