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 #295
CE Offered: BACB
The Acquisition and Generalization of Verbal Operants
Monday, May 29, 2006
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Learning Center
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Kansas)
CE Instructor: Jeffrey H. Tiger, Ph.D.

Skinner's (1957) analysis of verbal behavior has served as the foundation of many language interventions for children with developmental disabilities. The present symposium presents four evaluations of teaching procedures to further improve the communicative abilities of young children. Specifically procedures to promote the acquisition and generalization of Skinner's tact and intraverbal relationships were examined.

Acquisition of Signed Tacts in Infants and Toddlers.
KELLY A. DANCHO (University of Kansas), Rachel H. Thompson (University of Kansas), Jennifer Lynne Bruzek (University of Kansas), Tanya Baynham (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Thompson, McKerchar, and Dancho (2004) trained three typically developing infants to sign using delayed physical prompting and reinforcement. Children in the Thompson et al. (2004) study exhibited a limited communicative repertoire consisting of a single mand displayed only under controlled experimental conditions. This investigation sought to expand the signing repertoires of three typically developing children and two children diagnosed with developmental disabilities by (a) teaching tacts, (b) teaching multiple signs to the same child, (c) evaluating whether the effects of sign training would generalize to other appropriate conditions, and (d) evaluating whether signs occurred under stimulus control of relevant events. All participants acquired signs using delayed model and physical prompting and reinforcement. Generalization of the effects of sign training was observed with two participants, and results for two participants showed that signing was under stimulus control of relevant stimuli. Interobserver agreement was assessed during a minimum of 30% of all sessions, and agreement ranged between 60 and 100% for all participants.
An Evaluation of Tact Generalization.
ELIZABETH S. ATHENS (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: A number of techniques for generalization training are available; however, few have undergone experimental scrutiny for training verbal behavior. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate a method of examining the effects of explicit within-stimulus category generalization training on the subsequent sensitivity to generalization of other related responses. Methods were modeled after those presented by Haring (1985), and were designed to test a model based on the training of sufficient exemplars strategy. Specifically, verbal responses to pictures of items of varying representativeness were progressively trained until generalization occurred within a stimulus class (e.g., pictures of “castles”). In addition, generalization probes were conducted in other stimulus class sets, in a sense to test a “generalized” generalization effect. Interobserver agreement was collected during at least 30% of sessions across participants and averaged 99.5%. Results showed that the sufficient exemplar method is useful for teaching within class generalization, but a sensitivity of generalization in other stimulus sets emerged idiosyncratically.
An Analysis of Procedures to Generate Socially-Appropriate Answers to Novel Questions.
EINAR T. INGVARSSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Kansas), Kasey Stephenson (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Four preschool children (with and without disabilities) who often responded inappropriately to developmentally appropriate questions participated in the current study. Pretests established sets of questions that the children either did or did not answer appropriately (i.e., known and unknown questions). We then sequentially taught two specific answers to a subset of unknown questions: (a) “I don’t know,” and (b) “I don’t know, please tell me” (an information-seeking response). Results showed that the targeted answers generalized across questions and behavior-change agents for all participants. Following the “I don’t know” training, some undesirable generalization to known questions occurred for three participants, and some limited undesirable generalization of the “I don’t know please tell me” response occurred for two participants. An enriched reinforcement contingency was necessary to establish correct answers to previously unknown questions. The importance of teaching generalized responses that enable the acquisition of novel intraverbals is discussed.
An Evaluation of Intraverbal Training and Listener Training for Teaching Categorization Skills to Preschool Children.
ANNA I. PETURSDOTTIR (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Sarah A. Lechago (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Curricula employed in early and intensive early intervention programs sometimes recommend teaching receptive before expressive skills, but the empirical literature suggests that the reverse sequence may sometimes be more efficient. In particular, it appears fairly well established that tact training is more likely to generate an emergent listener repertoire than listener training to generate an emergent tact repertoire. Less is known about the extent to which a similar relation holds for intraverbals and listener behavior, even though the sequencing of intraverbal and listener training is a consideration in many language training programs, such as those that teach various categorization skills. The purpose of the present study was to provide a controlled evaluation of the effects of intraverbal training and listener training on intraverbal and listener categorization, as well as on other untrained categorization skills. The participants were3- and 4-year-old typically developing children who learned to categorize previously unfamiliar stimuli, such as characters from foreign writing systems, and outline maps of foreign countries. Overall, little emergence of untrained categorization skills was observed. Interobserver agreement was assessed on at least 25% of all sessions and averaged over 96% for each participant.



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