Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Poster Session #400
#401 Poster Session (VRB)
Monday, May 26, 2008
12:00 PM–1:30 PM
South Exhibit Hall
133. An Analysis of Prompt Sequencing in Skill Acquisition and Problem Behavior with Children with Developmental Disabilities.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
ANDREW A. FULTON (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center), Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center/Emory University), Crystal N. Bowen (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Various prompting strategies can be applied when teaching skills to children with developmental disabilities (Coleman-Martin & Heller, 2004; Touchette & Howard, 1984). In this study, we evaluated the level of skill acquisition and the occurrence of maladaptive behavior while implementing two instructional methods commonly used to teach children with autism. Three-step guided compliance (least-to-most intrusive) or errorless teaching (most-to-least intrusive) were used to evaluate which would result in faster acquisition of novel intraverbal targets, fewer occurrences of problem behavior, and persistent levels of mastered skills. Each session consisted of 10 trials (5 intraverbal targets and 5 previously-mastered interspersed imitation targets). Reinforcers used during the study were determined by a Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement (MSWO) assessment, and the resulting reinforcers were delivered at pre-determined prompt levels in both instructional procedures. Mastery criteria required 80% correct responding at the independent prompt levels in three consecutive sessions. A multiple baseline design across 5 intraverbal targets was used to demonstrate experimental control. A trials-to-criterion design was used to evaluate speed of acquisition. Results of the evaluation are discussed in terms of acquisition and problem behavior.
134. The Effects of Public Posting as a Token Economy on Correct Responses to PSI Learn Units.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
MINDY BUNYA ROTHSTEIN (Columbia University Teachers College), JoAnn Pereira Delgado (The Fred S. Keller School), Svetlana Parkhomovsky (Columbia University Teachers College)
Abstract: This experiment tested the effects of public posting as a token economy on increasing the rate of correct responses per minute for PSI (Personalized System of Instruction) worksheets of two participants with listener, speaker, beginning reader, and beginning writer levels of verbal behavior. Both participants attended a CABAS® program in a self-contained classroom with one teacher, four teaching assistants, and eleven students. Baseline data showed that the students emitted a high rate of incorrect responses to PSI worksheets, and often emitted avoidance of instructional responding during PSI sessions. The experimenters decided to use the already in place Public Posting Procedure as a Token Economy to increase the rate of correct responses. A multiple baseline across participants design was used. Results showed that the rate of correct responses significantly increased while the rate of incorrect responses decreased or remained relatively low for both participants.
135. Replication of an Intensive Tact Training Procedure to Test its Effects on the Numbers of Pure Tacts and Mands Emitted by Preschool Students in Non-Instructional Settings.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
ANUSHA SUBRAMANYAM (Columbia University Teachers College), Nirvana Pistoljevic (Columbia University Teachers College)
Abstract: We replicated a study by Pistoljevic and Greer (2006) to determine the effects of an intensive tact training procedure on the numbers of pure tacts and mands emitted by three preschool students in non-instructional settings. All participants were diagnosed with developmental disabilities and functioned at the listener/speaker level of verbal behavior. A multiple probe design was employed in which the dependent variable was the number of independent pure tacts and mands emitted by students in the non-instructional settings, and the independent variable was the tact training. Five-minute probes were conducted in three non-instructional settings: the toy area, the table during snack or play, and the hallway. The tact training procedure consisted of increasing the daily learn units presented to each student by 100 tact learn units. A set of tacts included five categories with four stimuli within each category. After the baseline probe, we conducted tact instruction followed by a probe in an alternating fashion as each participant mastered each set of tacts. The results showed a functional relationship between the tact training and an increase in the number of pure tacts and mands emitted by participants in the non-instructional settings.
136. The Effects of Conditioning Voices on Listener Responding.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
ERIK D. GRASSO (Columbia University Teachers College), R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College), Victoria Sterkin (Columbia University Teachers College)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to test the effects of conditioning voices as reinforcers on listener responding, stereotypy, passivity, responding to name, the number of objectives met on speaker and listener programs, and the mean number of learn units to criterion per 5000 learn units in two male kindergarten students diagnosed with autism. Both the participants were chosen due to a low frequency of listener responding and high rates of stereotypy and the engagement in behaviors other than those being targeted during instructional sessions. The study utilized a pre- and post-probe design to measure the effect of conditioning voices on each of the dependent variables. During conditioning, the experimenter conducted sessions of twenty pair test trials of recordings of human voices paired with reinforcement delivered on a variable schedule until the students chose listening to voices over stereotypy, passivity, or a non-target behavior. The data showed an increase in the selection of voices and the number of objectives achieved, and a decrease in stereotypy and the mean number of learn units to criterion as a function of the conditioning with Student A. The data did not show the same relationship for the participant that did not complete the conditioning.
137. Evaluation of Three Methods for Teaching Intraverbals to Children with Language Delays.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
NICOLE M. TROSCLAIR-LASSERRE (Louisiana State University and LAS*PIC), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston, Clear Lake), Crystal N. Bowen (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Previous research has begun to identify certain training conditions that result in more efficient use of instructional time devoted to language development. Specifically, incorporating mands into the instructional arrangement (e.g., Arntzen and Almås, 2002), increasing the quality of reinforcement delivered for interspersal tasks (e.g., Volkert et al., in press), and including instructive feedback stimuli into the consequences of learning trials (e.g., Wolery et al., 1991) have all demonstrated more efficient learning of targeted behavior. The purpose of the current investigation was to compare three methods for teaching intraverbals to individuals with language delays. Interobserver agreement was collected for at least 25% of sessions and exceeded 80%. Preliminary results suggest that incorporating mands during intraverbal instruction may result in faster acquisition of unknown intraverbals. However, the transfer of control training condition (i.e., mand to intraverbal transfer) resulted in the shortest session duration, suggesting a more efficient method for teaching intraverbals relative to mand interspersal.
138. Comparison of Two Procedures for Teaching Receptive Discriminations to Children with Autism.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
CALLIE AMANDA SIMMS (The Wayman Learning Center), Kristina Kriticos (The Wayman Learning Center), Lauren Marie Schermerhorn (The Wayman Learning Center), Gail Wayman (The Wayman Learning Center), Lisa Hartline (The Wayman Learning Center), Michelle J. Dillon (The Wayman Learning Center)
Abstract: One of the common characteristics of young children with autism is a limited listener repertoire. Therefore, when designing early intervention, behavior analysts often implement teaching procedures designed to increase the listener repertoire and, more specifically, receptive discrimination of objects and pictures. These procedures usually involve pairing the spoken word with some type of gestural or positional prompt and then fading the prompt, transferring stimulus control to the spoken word alone. While these types of procedures are often effective, some children do not acquire receptive discriminations as a result of these procedures, or once acquired, the skills are not maintained. Many children with autism, including those with limited listener repertoires, exhibit extensive repertoires in visual discriminations, including matching objects and pictures. The purpose of this study is to compare a more traditional method of teaching receptive discriminations with a procedure using match to sample paired with the spoken word, and then transferring stimulus control to the spoken word alone, in order to determine which procedure is more effective in producing acquisition and maintenance of receptive discrimination targets.
139. Long Term Maintenance of Mastered Receptive, Expressive, and Pre-academic Skills Following Interspersal in a Discrete Trial Format.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
DANIELLE W. BRADLEY (Marcus Autism Center), Andrew A. Fulton (Marcus Autism Center), Meighan Adams (Marcus Autism Center), Diana Garcia (Marcus Autism Center), Christopher A. Tullis (Marcus Autism Center), Crystal N. Bowen (Marcus Autism Center), Amber L. Valentino (Marcus Autism Center), M. Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: The use of discrete trial training in the instruction of individuals with developmental disabilities is well established in the literature. Long-term treatment gains as a whole (e.g., increased IQ, behavioral improvements, increased social interactions) have been evaluated and show support for the benefits of discrete trial training (Eikeseth, Smith, Jahr, & Eldevik, 2007; Lovaas, Koegel, Simmons, & Long, 1973). Other studies have examined the maintenance of acquired skills such as tooth-brushing two years after acquisition (Snell, Lewis, & Houghton, 1989). These skills, although likely practiced often, were probed after months of practicing without therapist observation and correction. The current project examined the maintenance of skills acquired via discrete trial intervention. In the current investigation, students with developmental disabilities in an intensive behavioral program received one-on-one instruction aimed at increasing receptive, expressive, and pre-academic skills. Following mastery, students continued to encounter these targets through the interspersal of mastered tasks with novel targets. In the case of one client, 93 out of 101 mastered targets that were regularly interspersed with non-mastered targets continued to meet mastery criteria when probed at least one month after original mastery.
140. Developing a Mand Repertoire and Vocalizations in Children with Developmental Disabilities: An Empirical Investigation of Three Systems.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
AMBER L. VALENTINO (The Marcus Autism Center), Cynthia L. Dulaney (Xavier University), Kimberly Ann Kroeger (Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders)
Abstract: As much as 50% of children diagnosed with autism do not develop functional communication skills (Graziano, 2002). Thus, a priority of many behavioral intervention programs is the development of functional language, specifically the mand. This study investigated the effectiveness of three systems in producing communication and vocalizations in 18 children with developmental disabilities. Participants were matched according to age and diagnosis and were taught to mand using topography-based verbal behavior in the form of sign language, selection-based verbal behavior in the form of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) (Frost and Bondy, 2002), or an automatic reinforcement procedure (Sundberg, Michael, Partington, & Sundberg, 1996). Each participant received up to 24 sessions, consisting of 60-75 mand opportunities. Results indicated that children in the ARP group obtained a greater number of vocalizations and showed a greater increase in manding skills than children in the PECS and Sign Language groups as evidenced by frequency count and scores on the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills. Implications and indications for future research are discussed.
141. The Effects of Antecedent Variables on the Verbal Behavior of Children to B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Summator.
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
MAT C LUEHRING (Northern Arizona University), Sarah Jeannine Schol (Northern Arizona University), Andrew W. Gardner (Northern Arizona University)
Abstract: Latent speech is defined as speech which is present, but needing particular conditions to become active, obvious, or completely developed. In 1936, B.F. Skinner designed the Verbal Summator, an auditory device used to investigate latent speech. Skinner presented ambiguous skeletal sounds of speech (masked by white noise) and asked participants to interpret what was being said. The current study investigated whether children’s verbal responses to the Verbal Summator could be biased by providing antecedent variables prior to testing. To determine this, an ABAB design was used with two elementary school aged children as they were asked to interpret the sounds from the Verbal Summator (Gardner, Woodmancy, & Cheney, 1997). In baseline phases, responses were recorded with nothing in the room after a 5 minute period of sitting alone. In the treatment phases, a 5 minute toy play period with intense stimuli (i.e. seeing, hearing, feeling, eating items related to “Spongebob Squarepants”) was provided before being asked to interpret the sounds from the Verbal Summator. Verbal responses were compared (by two independent observers) thematically between baseline and treatment conditions to verify antecedent influence. Results are discussed in terms of biasing verbal responding by manipulating antecedent variables and implications for psychological projective tests.
142. Using the Verbal Behavior Approach to Increase the Language of Children with Developmental Disabilities.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
EDWARD D. PARKER (The Ohio State University), Judah B. Axe (The Ohio State University), Ruth M. DeBar (The Ohio State University), Amanda E. Guld (The Ohio State University), Tracy L. Kettering (The Ohio State University), Helen I. Cannella-Malone (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: For teaching aspects of language to children with developmental disabilities (DD), there has been empirical support of Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. Although many practitioners are using the “verbal behavior approach” to teach language to these children, no research was found evaluating the effects of the entire approach on language development in children who exhibit limited or no language ability. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a verbal behavior training package, described by Sundberg and Partington, on the overall verbal communication of children with DD. In this study, we administered The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) to determine the current level of performance of the participants. A multiple baseline across verbal operants design was used to evaluate the acquisition of the elementary verbal operants. Additionally, over the course of the project, the ABLLS was administered at least twice to monitor student progress. Results, limitations, and directions for future research will be discussed.
143. Effect of Feedback Level on Preference for Novel Stimuli.
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
MAYRA HERNÁNDEZ (Universidad de Guadalajara), Roberto P. Maciel (Universidad de Guadalajara), Areli Morando (Universidad de Guadalajara), Maria Antonia Padilla Vargas (Universidad de Guadalajara), Jose E. Burgos (Universidad de Guadalajara), Carolina De la Torre Ibarra (Universidad de Guadalajara)
Abstract: The present study sought to determine the effect of the level of feedback (no feedback, medium feedback, or high feedback) for interacting with certain stimuli on the preference for novel stimuli. Two-hundred forty high-school students were first given five trials where left-clicking with a mouse on a colored geometric figure that was presented on a computer screen (e.g., a blue square, a red circle) was followed by either no feedback, or a medium or high level of feedback. In the no-feedback condition, participants were just shown a “CONTINUE” button, which had to be left-clicked for the next trial to occur. In the medium level, participants were also shown the text “VERY GOOD!” In the high level, participants were shown the text “VERY GOOD! YOU HAVE EARNED A CHOCOLATE!” with a picture of a chocolate candy. Then, all participants were given a choice between the figure that had been previously given and a new figure that was different in color and shape. The results show that substantially more participants preferred the novel stimulus in the no-feedback than the medium- and high-level conditions. These results are compatible with the Law of Effect.
144. Effect of Rules and Counterfactuals on Risk Behavior.
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
ARELI MORANDO (Universidad de Guadalajara), Jose E. Burgos (Universidad de Guadalajara), Mayra Hernández (Universidad de Guadalajara), Roberto P. Maciel (Universidad de Guadalajara), Maria Antonia Padilla Vargas (Universidad de Guadalajara), Carolina De la Torre Ibarra (Universidad de Guadalajara)
Abstract: Using a proprietary, fantasy computer game where participants role-played a virtual character, participants were first given a choice between fighting against an easy monster for a certain amount of gold (no-risk choice) and fighting a hard monster for a larger amount (risk choice). Unbeknownst to the participants, the probability of vanquishing the monsters was 1.0 for the easy and 0.0 for the hard one. Most participants chose the hard monster. Then, participants were given a feedback consisting of either a rule or a counterfactual. The rule was “NEXT TIME, CHOOSE THE EASY MONSTER.” The counterfactual was “HAD YOU CHOSEN THE EASY MONSTER, YOU COULD HAVE WON.” Then, participants were given a second choice of the same kind. The results indicate that the rule was more effective in reducing the number of participants who made the risk choice. This result could be due to fact that rules are shorter, clearer, and more direct, whereas counterfactuals are longer, more ambiguous, and indirect.
145. Peer Tutoring.
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
ALLIBERTHE ELYSEE (Columbia University Teachers College), Sheri Kingsdorf (Columbia University Teachers College), Dolleen-Day Keohane (Columbia University Teachers College & CABAS)
Abstract: This study investigated the effects of peer tutoring on acquired academic responses across both tutee and tutor repertoires. The participants were middle school students diagnosed as having emotional disorders or other health impairments. The dependent variable was the number of correct responses emitted by both the tutor and tutee during post-peer tutoring probes. Through a multiple probe design the study found that the tutors had acquired the math concepts without direct instruction but through presenting another student learn units. The tutors were trained before presenting learn units. The study also found significant results in the reversal of the roles as later explored in the discussion session.
146. The Effects of Intensive Tact Instruction on the Emission of Appropriate Tacts and Conversational Units.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
RYAN WILLIAMS (Columbia University Teachers College), Karla A. Mondello (Columbia University Teachers College), Joan A. Broto (Columbia University Teachers College)
Abstract: This study tested the effects of daily intensive tact instruction on the emission of accurate tacts and conversational units by second grade students in non-instructional settings. Both of the participants were typically developing females who were learning English as their second language. A delayed multiple probe design across two participants was used. The dependent variables were the number of accurate tacts and conversational units emitted in non-instructional settings before and after the mastery of sets of stimuli. The independent variable was the intensive tact instruction, in which the participants received additional 100-tact learn units daily. Each set consisted of 100 tacts broken down into 5 categories of stimuli, with 4 stimuli in each category and 5 exemplars for each stimulus. The first set of tacts was taught following baseline, and participants had to master a complete set of tacts before progressing to the next set. Upon mastery of a set of tacts, three 5-minute probe sessions on the number of tacts and conversational units emitted in non-instructional settings were conducted. Results showed that both participants emitted significantly higher levels of tacts and conversational units in the non-instructional settings following the intensive tact procedure.
147. Teaching Reading with Systematic Color Prompting.
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Abstract: This study was conducted to analyze the effects of systematically color-coding the correspondences between sounds and written letters on the acquisition of codic (textual) verbal behavior. This study attempts to answer several research questions: (1) with which paradigm will regular words be easier to learn to read, (2) with which paradigm will irregular words be easier to learn to read, and (3) with which paradigm will reading of the words be maintained better? The main dependent variable is the rate of acquisition for reading two sets of 48 words--one set per intervention paradigm--as measured by the number of trials to a predetermined mastery criterion. The intervention in question is the use of multicolored written words for the training of a reading (i.e, textual) response. Within this system, each sound in a word is made to correspond to exactly one color, and vice versa, regardless of the actual written symbol(s) used to represent the sound. (If we used English orthography to provide an example of this treatment paradigm, the (written) letters 'ph' in 'phone,' the letter 'f' in 'fish', and the letters 'gh' in 'rough' would all be the same color during training because they all match up to the same speech sound.) Importantly, however, though words are trained using multicolored and black text, words are tested using only black text words, to simulate real-life contingencies. Two female individuals (ages 25 and 27) participated in this study. They were native speakers and readers of English with no learning disabilities. Because they could already read English, a compilation of English words containing only three sounds were written in two sets of foreign scripts (from an actual natural language) for the subjects to learn to decode within one of the two treatment paradigms. (The symbols of the scripts were systematically assigned to the sounds of English that were represented in the words lists.) The two word lists were designed such that the lists were balanced for which sounds were presented to the subject, how many times each sound was presented, the approximate order that the sounds were presented, and the relative ease of the words' comprehension. The experiment involved a within-subject comparison, where each subject was first taught one word list in the first set of foreign symbols using either the multicolored coding system or only traditional black text. Then, the second word list was taught using different symbols as well as the alternate...
148. Rapid Strengthening and Extinction of Conditioned Avoidance and Disgust Responses to the Verbal Stimulus "Love".
Area: VRB; Domain: Theory
STEPHEN RAY FLORA (Youngstown State University)
Abstract: On a two question survey students indicated their degree of disgust toward, and their degree of avoidance of, the word “Love” as a pretest, after a brief verbal conditioning manipulation, and again after a rapid massed brief exposure extinction manipulation. The brief verbal conditioning manipulation consisting of instructions to imagine two vividly described scenes greatly increased disgust and avoidance indications from baseline. The rapid massed brief exposure extinction manipulation significantly decreased disgust and avoidance indications. As a word’s meaning is contingent upon association, it is possible to decrease the meaning of a word with simple extinction procedures–repeatedly presenting the CS without a US, or repeatedly presenting the word without accompanying meaningful stimuli, verbal or otherwise. The experiment can be easily replicated in almost any classroom and serve as an effective teaching tool.



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