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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #223
CE Offered: BACB
Skinners Analysis of Verbal Behavior: Applications for Multiple Operants, Environments, and Populations
Sunday, May 28, 2006
4:00 PM–5:20 PM
Learning Center
Area: VRB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: David W. Sidener (Lafayette College)
CE Instructor: William A. Flood, M.A.

Four papers will discuss basic and applied issues relative to the assessment and treatment of various verbal operants using Skinners analysis of Verbal Behavior. The first paper (Sidener) examines stimulus control over word usage of college students during interviews. The second paper (Flood) discusses how Skinners analysis of Verbal Behavior was used to increase manding of a child with autism when a discrete trial format was ineffective. The third paper (Barker) found discrete trial instruction to be highly effective in teaching tacts to children with developmental delays when this format was embedded into everyday activities at a preschool. Finally, the fourth paper (Firth, Sidener, and Carr) examined the effects of interspersing mands and tacts during acquisition training with preschool children.

Evidence for Stimulus Control of Word Usage in Semi-Structured Interviews.
DAVID W. SIDENER (Lafayette College)
Abstract: Thirty-seven college students were interviewed twice each and prompted to talk about issues commonly of interest to students. Interview questions in each of two sets contained one of a pair of matched target words. Students tended to answer questions in each session using target words that were embedded in that session’s questions. That is, when asked a question, participants’ answers tended to include target words embedded into that question rather than comparable, synonymous words from the corresponding questions. Findings are discussed in terms of Skinner’s description of the echoic and stimulus control over word.
A Case Study Comparison of Discrete Trial Training and Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior.
Abstract: The present study evaluated the effects of the Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Verbal Behavior (VB) formats on daily rates of manding of a three-year old girl diagnosed with autism. The participant was enrolled in a home-based program based upon a model of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for thirty hours a week. The participant emitted very little functional speech upon admission. Initially, a DTT format used to teach all skills, including mands. After four months of enrollment in the program, her rate of manding did not increase and her manding program was switched a VB format. Shortly after this transition, the total numbers of mands emitted per session increased dramatically. Results indicate that the VB format was superior in evoking mands for this participant. Implications of these results upon intensive behavioral program development and future research will be discussed.
Expanding the Tact Repertoire of Preschool Studentswith Developmental Disabilities by Embedding Direct Instruction into Everyday Classroom Activities.
MAE R. BARKER (Florida State University)
Abstract: The present study evaluated the effectiveness of using discrete-trial based embedded instruction for increasing the tact repertoires of four preschoolers with developmental delays and expressive language deficits. All four participants acquired tacts for common classroom items following the implementation of embedded instruction by teaching assistants. Students demonstrated acquired tacts to variable degrees during post-intervention probes. Based on student performances on probes, better learning outcomes resulted from embedding instruction into “planning” and “recall” times (small group instructional activities) than during the “worktime” (free play) period. Average percent correct on 1 wk post-intervention probes was 98% for planning items, 86% for recall items, and 63% for worktime items. Students obtained few, if any, of the control items that were not exposed to the intervention. Following training (task clarification, video modeling and criterion-based role-play), teaching assistants implemented instructional procedures with a high degree of fidelity (assistants averaged 94% correct implementation). Assistants later reported that they felt the instructional procedures were effective, easy to implement, and beneficial for this population of students. The results obtained have implications for early skill assessment, instructional design of preschool curriculums, and the professional development of educators.
Effects of Single Versus Multiple Verbal Operant Arrangements on the Acquisition of Mands and Tacts in Preschool Children.
AMANDA M. FIRTH (Western Michigan University), Tina Sidener (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Treatment programs based on Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior often teach language targets by interspersing novel and acquired exemplars across verbal operant categories. For example, “cookie” might be concurrently taught as a mand and a tact/intraverbal by arranging a situation in which the trainer prevents access to the cookie when the child is hungry, alternated with opportunities for the child to respond to the question, “What is this?” in the presence of the cookie. Previous research has demonstrated that mixed mand and tact sessions result in faster acquisition of tacts than tact-only sessions. However, further research is warranted to address limitations of these studies and extend this procedure to other verbal operants. The purpose of the current investigation was to replicate and extend previous research by evaluating effects of tact-only, mand-only, and mand-tact arrangements on the acquisition of mands and tacts in preschool children. When minimal differences in acquisition were observed during a systematic replication (Study 1), a direct replication of previous research was conducted (Study 2).



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