Treating Scrolling and Prompt Dependency


Reduce “Scrolling” (Random Guessing) and “Prompt Dependency” (Asking for answers) when the student is required to produce already learned verbal responses and written work.



When the curriculum gets harder, the student heavily relies on “Guessing” and “Asking for every answer” to remove pressure of interaction and worksheet.  Based on my observations, some of the work he delivers is correct on independent trial.

Discussed here are a few teaching strategies in a classroom setting.  Feel free to contact this writer for a protocol in ABA format.



  1. Allow for Choice. “How many questions you like today? 3, 4, or 5?” Let student make decision and help him stick with his choice.
  2. Spell out all letters. When student asks for every letter of a spelling word, teacher spells or sounds out all letters to reduce prompt dependency.  This can also enhance working memory, audio memory, fluency, and visual tracking.
  3. Use Draft Paper. Write out the immediate math question on a draft paper; provide prompts before student makes error for the first time.  For the second attempt, fade out the prompts on same question.  For the last time, student is to do the math correctly and independently on worksheet.  This will reduce anxiety in making errors on draft paper and help student feel successful on worksheet after practice on draft paper.
  4. Praise for Correction. If student self-corrects mistakes, provide big praise for doing correction. If student needs prompt to correct work, praise for good listening and appropriate correction.


Some Teaching Tips

  • Provide enough repetitions and practice to ensure student experience a final correct answer in one session.
  • Interrupt student’s automatic guessing and prompt dependency by looking away and waiting him out. After a wait time of 3-5 seconds, say “try again”, and restart the task with necessary prompts.
  • For math period, be aware that the student is transitioned from a highly favourite activity (Computer Activities) to a non-favourite activity (math worksheet). Generously reward group compliance by praising for good sitting, good answering teacher’s question, and nice looking at teacher.  Show him a “thumb-up” to deliver praise quietly.
  • Math is right before lunch and the period could be his most tiresome time of the morning. Consider offering a drink or pre-contract with him to work for his favourite activity (e.g. Lego, puzzle, blocks).

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