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.


39th Annual Convention; Minneapolis, MN; 2013

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #337
CE Offered: BACB
Revisiting The Science of Learning and Art of Teaching: A Talk for Students and Teachers
Monday, May 27, 2013
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Auditorium Room 1 (Convention Center)
Area: TPC/TBA; Domain: Theory
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: A. Charles Catania, Ph.D.
Chair: Per Holth (Oslo and Akershus University College)
Presenting Authors: : A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland Baltimore County)

We cannot teach effectively without defining what is learned. In The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching article (1954), B. F. Skinner outlined the relevance of behavior analysis to education. Learning occurs when contingencies change behavior; teaching consists of appropriately implementing those contingencies. Computers make powerful teaching machines feasible, but educational systems rarely avail themselves even of what was known when such technologies were severely limited. It follows from Skinner's analysis that what students do is what they learn, that teaching involves arranging stimuli that occasion relevant behavior, and that consequences must be contingent upon that behavior. Too often, educational systems focus on teacher rather than student behavior. Changing what teachers do by modifying curricula or media or even by allowing them to modify their teaching based on student feedback is inadequate if student behavior is neglected. Students are disadvantaged when teachers are expected to help them more, as when they are urged to provide more detailed lecture outlines when it would be better for students to do outlines themselves. These points lead to advice for both students and teachers, and are illustrated with examples from the teaching of behavior analysis within standard undergraduate course structures.

A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
A. Charles Catania, Ph.D., took Fred Keller's introductory course and Nat Schoenfeld's experimental courses at Columbia University. He went to Harvard University planning to work on teaching machines but got caught up in work in the pigeon laboratory. As a postdoctoral fellow, he taught his first course in 1961. After a stint in psychopharmacology, he renewed his teaching interests upon moving to the University Heights campus of New York University and then to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he met Eliot Shimoff, also a Columbia product. Shimoff had earned his doctorate in Schoenfeld's laboratory. Given their common mentor, they collaborated on human and pigeon research and on team-teaching undergraduate courses in behavior analysis. The educational practices they explored included in-class exams that evolved into online exercises, computer simulations honed via collection of student data, techniques for managing online essays within large classes, and student self-reports. Shimoff was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and died early in 2004 having taught in Fall 2003. This presentation is dedicated to him. Catania is now professor emeritus at UMBC. He retired from teaching in 2008, having offered his last course in Spring 2011. He remains professionally active and recently completed the fifth edition of his textbook, Learning.
Keyword(s): Online learning, Simulations and demonstrations, What students do, What teachers do



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