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

Workshop Details

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Workshop #W34
CE Offered: BACB
Helping Timmy Tact Toys: A Systematic Approach to Teaching Concepts for Applied Behavior Analysts.
Friday, May 23, 2008
6:00 PM–9:00 PM
International North
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Eric J. Fox, Ph.D.
ERIC J. FOX (Western Michigan University), JEANA L. KOERBER (Western Michigan University), SARAH VANSTELLE (Western Michigan University), SCOTT LATOUR (Western Michigan University)
Description: Knowing how to correctly name, tact, and categorize the objects, people, and events in the world is a vital component of a functional verbal repertoire. In fact, most behavior analysts working with individuals with language delays devote a considerable amount of time to establishing or expanding this repertoire with their clients. When we teach individuals how to name objects or events in their environment, however, we are rarely teaching them to name one specific object or event. Rather, we are teaching them a name for a class of objects or events a category. The response toy, for example, will be reinforced by the verbal community in the presence of a wide array of objects. Toy is a tact, label, or name for a category of objects that share certain features. Such categories have historically been referred to as concepts. Behavior analysts generally consider a concept to be a class of stimuli that occasion common responses in a given context. Concept learning, then, involves generalization within classes and discrimination between classes (Keller & Shoenfeld, 1950, p. 155). When developing behavior plans to teach tacts or concepts, many applied behavior analysts do not follow a systematic approach to selecting the type, range, or number of stimuli to be used in training and testing. When teaching toy, for example, a behavior analyst may simply select an arbitrary number and range of toys based on what is available in the current setting. This lack of a systematic approach to selecting and presenting stimuli can lead to treatment programs that are less efficient and effective than they could be, and may result in less generalization than is desired. The behavioral view of concept learning has led to a robust and powerful technology for teaching concepts. This technology is based on research on stimulus generalization and discrimination, and stresses exposing learners to a carefully selected and sequenced series of examples and non-examples to prevent classification errors such as overgeneralization, undergeneralization, and misconceptions. Many of these techniques were formalized in the development of programmed instruction and direct instruction, and are significantly influenced by the work of behavioral educators such as Susan Markle and Siegfried Engelmann. This workshop will teach these instructional methods, with an emphasis on their use in early intervention programs. Workshop participants will learn how to conduct formal concept analyses, and how to use these analyses to guide the selection of stimuli to be used in training and testing. By following these procedures, participants will learn to develop concept training that promotes optimal generalization and discrimination.
Learning Objectives: 1) Conduct a formal concept analysis (identify the critical and variable attributes) for any given concept 2) Use a concept analysis to assemble a �minimum rational set� of examples and non-examples to be used in training and testing 3) Provide a rationale (based on the concept analysis) for the inclusion of each example and non-example to be used in concept training and testing 4) Identify and correct the weaknesses in sample concept analyses and training/testing stimulus sets
Activities: With the guidance and assistance of workshop presenters, participants will use worksheets to construct formal concept analyses for concepts relevant to their applied work and generate minimum rational sets of examples and non-examples to be used in training and testing. Participants will also review given concept analyses and stimulus sets for weaknesses, identify the types of errors the weaknesses may lead to (e.g., undergeneralization, overgeneralization, misconception), and then correct the analyses and stimulus sets.
Audience: Any applied behavior analyst who develops training or treatment programs to establish naming, tacting, or categorization repertoires. Individuals interested in instructional design in general will also find the workshop of interest.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate



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