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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #336
Behavioral Approaches to Writing Instruction: Instructional Design to Application
Monday, May 28, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
America's Cup D
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marilyn B. Gilbert (Performance Engineering Group)
Discussant: Bradley G. Frieswyk (BGF Performance Systems, LLC.)
Abstract: Discussant: Bradley G. Frieswyk (BGF Performance Systems) According to the last National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), less than 24% of high school seniors are proficient writers. This want of writing skill soon becomes the burden of college professors and employers, not to mention the afflicted. The presenters in this symposium are working on a number of experimental and applied projects to improve the writing of learners in a variety of settings. Instructional design models as well as results from implementations will be presented.
Using Methods of Performance Analysis - and Charles Darwin - to Teach Elements of Mechanics and Style.
MARILYN B. GILBERT (Performance Engineering Group)
Abstract: Let’s be clear about it: Johnny can’t write because we haven’t been effective teachers. The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges (2003) said so, but far more diplomatically. In this paper, I will describe how I used principles of performance analysis—and the methods of Charles Darwin—to teach students how to apply the basic elements of mechanics and style to their own writing. The class was General English 101, required for either the BFA or an associate degree program at The Art Institute of Seattle. Throughout, I emphasized the logic in the initial design for transferring speech to print, the mission being to make it readable and engaging. Two concepts for readable print are consistent style and clear discriminations between major and minor sentence units. And of the many concepts for achieving engaging prose, using varied sentence structures and strong verbs and nouns are key. Instead of organizing instruction around the usage of each punctuation mark, as is the usual way, I examined the basic examples of mechanics and style and sorted them into groups by their function in sentences. This sort produced ten general categories, covering basic mechanics, and six categories for stylistic changes. Both sets of categories also serve as editorial mediators, alerting students to a possible need for punctuation or a stylistic change in their own compositions. As an example, NAME is a mediator—or reminder—to capitalize sentence starts, titles, and proper nouns that are not descriptions. As they edit, students pause at each name and question if it’s just a description or truly a name. If they forget how to tell, they refer to a Performance Guide. Eventually, they will abandon the mediators and consult a style guide on details they forget. To determine their starting levels of competence, students took comprehensive diagnostics. The results showed that no students exhibited the same strengths and the same deficiencies. By the end of the course, all students showed great improvements in mechanics and style in their compositions.
Instructional Design of Arthur E. Whimbey’s and Myra J. Linden Whimbey’s Prototype-Construction Approach to Grammar.
Abstract: Just as the American Dream is exemplified in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie House style architecture, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” equality of races speech, the instructional design (I.D.) of Art E. Whimbey’s and Myra J. Linden-Whimbey’s Prototype-Construction Approach to Grammar (P-CAG) exemplifies leveling the playing field in American’s classrooms. Students master the functions and uses of the parts of speech through prototype sentences beginning with the basic prototype subject + verb + object sentence and continuing through the sequencing of grammatical concepts from the simple through the complex. This presentation outlines and explains the use of that I.D. in the Whimbey-Linden grammar texts from Grade 5 through Grade 12.
Results of a Four Year Implementation of the Prototype-Construction Approach in an Urban High School.
BRADLEY G. FRIESWYK (BGF Performance Systems, LLC.)
Abstract: In 2002 the English Department Chairperson at Yuba City High School convinced all of the English teachers to start using the Prototype-Construction approach to teaching English grammar, a new method for teaching grammar in which students learn the academic language of grammar and to manipulate and master language through exercises that have them construct standard English sentence patterns from the parts of speech. Since they began using the Prototype-Construction Approach, the teachers at Yuba City have seen tremendous gains on Language Arts assessments of their students. The details of the implementation and the results will be discussed.



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