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

Previous Page


Symposium #70
CE Offered: BACB
Analyses of Verbal Operants: From Assessing Behavior to Producing Novel Repertoires
Saturday, May 24, 2008
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Continental C
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
CE Instructor: Caio F. Miguel, Ph.D.

Skinners (1957) functional analysis of verbal behavior has garnered more attention in recent years than it did when it was first published. One variable responsible for this has been the success of behavior analysis in teaching children with verbal deficits. There has been much interest in identifying critical variables for teaching communicative responding and validating teaching techniques. Skinners analysis of verbal behavior has been useful to clinicians for functionally categorizing verbal operants but there has not been enough systematic research of verbal behavior in applied and natural settings. This symposium will discuss several studies of verbal behavior conducted in educational environments. The first paper compares the effects of textual and echoic prompting for teaching intraverbal responses. The second paper examines the role of problem solving in complex intraverbal repertoires. The third paper presents a procedure for functionally assessing established vocal-verbal behavior. The final paper examines prompted and pure mands following mand training.

A Comparison of Echoic and Textual Prompts for Teaching Intraverbal Behavior.
LYNN KEENAN (The New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: A comparison of echoic and textual prompts on the acquisition of intraverbal behavior was assessed for three children with autism. Each child was taught to answer 12 social questions using either a textual or echoic prompt procedure. Using a multiple probe design for all participants, the study measured (a) the number of trials to criterion during acquisition, (b) the number of correct full sentence answers to target questions during probe sessions, and (c) the number of correct partial answers to target questions during test probe sessions. The effects of the prompting procedures were assessed across acquisition; post- training, generalization and a 3-week follow up phase. IOA was collected across 43.6% of probe sessions and 33.4% of training sessions and was above 83% for all sessions (83.3-100%). Across all participants, echoic prompts were found to be more effective than textual prompts to teach intraverbal behavior. For two of the participants, acquisition of the target response was faster when the response was prompted with an echoic prompt. For the third participant, no difference was found for acquisition of the response, but the response occurred more reliably during probes following acquisition for questions taught with echoic prompts.
The Role of Problem-Solving in Complex Intraverbal Repertoires.
RACHAEL A. SAUTTER (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University), Allison A. Jay (Western Michigan University), Tina R. Goldsmith (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Skinner described intraverbal behavior as verbal behavior with no point-to-point correspondence. This operant encompasses a wide range of response topographies ranging from answering simple questions to complex conversational exchanges. Previous interventions for teaching responding to questions about category membership have focused on transfer of stimulus control procedures to teach specific responses. These procedures have proven effective at establishing basic responses but have consistently produced small and restricted repertoires. Theoreticians have hypothesized that effective use of problem-solving strategies rather than simple stimulus control may account for the performance of individuals with advanced intraverbal repertoires. The current study examined the use of a mediating strategy involving rule statements and self-prompting in the context of intraverbal categorization with four typically developing preschool children. Results showed that training alone did not produce significant increases in target responses for any participant with any category. Results also showed all participants mastered complex rule statements for self-prompting and applied these rules to the relevant category. None of the participants applied the strategy until they observed a model and were prompted to “use the rules.” Following the model and prompts, all participants showed immediate and significant increases in target responding and all prompts were quickly decreased to zero.
Assessing the Functions of Vocalizations in Children with Limited Vocal-Verbal Repertoires.
DANIELLE LISE LAFRANCE (Florida Institute of Technology), James L. Squires (Florida Institute of Technology), David A. Wilder (Florida Institute of Technology), Matthew P. Normand (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: The current study examined the effectiveness of a newly developed methodology for assessing the functions of emergent vocal-verbal behavior in children with developmental disabilities (Lerman et al., 2005). The purpose of the assessment was to determine the function(s) of specific verbal topographies according to Skinner's (1957) analysis of verbal behavior. Results indicated that for most participants, targeted vocal utterances functioned as either mands, tacts, or both. The reliability of this assessment was first verified through replication (Experiment 1). Participants consisted of two children with developmental disabilities, between the ages of 2 and 10, with very limited vocal-verbal repertoires, exhibiting at least two clearly emitted vocalizations. However, attempts at replication were only moderately successful as additional manipulations became necessary to occasion responding with two of three participants. Experiment 2 aimed to address some of the limitations of Experiment 1. Results obtained in Experiment 2 suggested that participants’ targeted vocalizations served as tacts, echoics, or both. Results are discussed in terms of the utility of this methodology for the selection and development of effective language interventions as well as implications for our current knowledge of verbal behavior and teaching technology.
Effects of Chain Schedules of Reinforcement and Fluency Training on Frequency of Pure Mands.
FERNANDO GUERRERO (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: Modern behavior analytic interventions (e.g., incidental teaching, pivotal response training, natural environment language training, behavior chain interruption strategy) have demonstrated higher levels of generalization and spontaneity than interventions exclusively based on discrete trial training. Nevertheless, opportunities to respond and the consequences for responding are frequently presented by the therapist, possibly preventing spontaneity and reducing the possibility of generalizing to natural settings. Chain schedules of reinforcement and fluency training have been effective in teaching unprompted sequences of behaviors and might promote spontaneous use communicative initiations. A preference assessment was conducted with three children diagnosed with autism displaying low rates of pure manding. Frequency of no-verbally prompted mands and pure mands for the preferred items and activities (e.g., pointing, emitting particular sounds words or phrases) were obtained during play activities with parents, peers, therapists, and during regular therapy. Mands were initially trained using traditional behavior analytic procedures (e.g., manipulation of motivational operations, enticement). If these procedures were not effective chain schedules of reinforcement and precision teaching were included. Effects of the intervention on the frequency of pure mands across different settings are discussed



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh