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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Invited Panel #365
CE Offered: None
The Analysis of Complex Human Behavior
Monday, May 29, 2006
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Centennial Ballroom I
Area: VRB/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: William F. Potter (California State University, Stanislaus)
CE Instructor: Mark L. Sundberg, Ed.D.
Panelists: JOHN L. MICHAEL (Western Michigan University), DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College), MARK L. SUNDBERG (Sundberg and Associates), JANET S. TWYMAN (Headsprout)

The panelists will discuss approaches to analyzing complex human behavior, providing examples as well as directions for future research in this area.

JOHN L. MICHAEL (Western Michigan University)
Dr. Jack Michael was born in 1926 in Los Angeles, and entered UCLA in 1943 as a chemistry major. He served two years in the army, and returned to UCLA in 1946, this time as a psychology major. He obtained a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at UCLA, finishing in 1955. As a graduate student his main interests were statistical methodology, physiological psychology, and learning theory. During his first teaching job (Kansas University) he was much influenced by B. F. Skinner's Science and Human Behavior, and since then has been primarily involved in teaching behavioral psychology; at Kansas U., University of Houston, Arizona State University, and since 1967 at Western Michigan University. In 1957 as a result of influence by the rehabilitation psychologist, Lee Meyerson, he began to apply Skinner's behavior analysis to applications in the areas of mental retardation, mental illness, and physical disability. During the next several years "behavior modification" was in a period of rapid expansion and Michael contributed with his teaching, writing, and public presentations. Most recently he has been concerned with the technical terminology of behavior analysis, basic theory regarding motivation, and verbal behavior. He contributed to the founding of the Association for Behavior Analysis in 1974 and served as its president in 1979. He was Western Michigan University’s Distinguished Faculty Scholar for 1989. He received the 2002 Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis from the Association for Behavior Analysis; and the 2002 Don Hake Award from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association.
DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College)
Dr. David C. Palmer discovered Skinner by reading Walden Two while on a caving trip to North Carolina, because he thought it must have had something to do with his hero, Thoreau. He spent the next decade on a soap box preaching about Walden Two and reading the rest of the Skinner canon. Eventually he realized that he was no Frazier, and he applied to graduate school in behavior analysis under John Donahoe. He was happy in grad school and would be there still if the University of Massachusetts hadn’t threatened to change the locks. He has spent the last 17 years as the token behaviorist at Smith College. During that time he co-authored, with Donahoe, Learning and Complex Behavior. He continues to puzzle over the interpretation of memory, problem-solving, and, particularly, verbal behavior. He once referred to himself, in a jocular vein, as a goose-stepping Skinnerian, but he found that the label fit, and he now wears it without apology.
MARK L. SUNDBERG (Sundberg and Associates)
Dr. Mark L. Sundberg received his doctorate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University (1980), under the direction of Dr. Jack Michael. Dr. Sundberg is a Licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has been conducting language research with children with autism for over 30 years. He is the founder and past editor of the journal The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and is the co-author (with James W. Partington) of the books Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities, The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills: The ABLLS, and (with Jack Michael) A Collection of Reprints on Verbal Behavior. He has published over 40 professional papers, given over 400 conference presentations and workshops, and taught 80 college courses on behavior analysis, verbal behavior, sign language, and child development. Dr. Sundberg received the 2001 “Distinguished Psychology Department Alumnus Award” from Western Michigan University.
JANET S. TWYMAN (Headsprout)
Dr. Janet S. Twyman is the Vice President of Instructional Development at Headsprout, where she significantly contributed to the development of Headsprout’s Generative Learning Technology and led the effort to build that technology into a highly effective beginning reading program. Twyman developed the research methods and systems that led to Headsprout’s ground breaking scientific formative evaluation model of program development, coordinating all elements of instructional design, scripting, graphic creation, animation, sound engineering, story development and writing, software engineering, and usability testing within the research model. Twyman was formerly the Executive Director of the Fred S. Keller School, a model early childhood center, and an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University Teachers College. She is a long-time advocate and investigator of research-based instruction and systems design. While at the Keller School and Columbia University, she conducted research and taught courses focusing on effective instruction, technology and education, teacher development, and systems approaches to effective education. She has published experimental studies with a particular emphasis on the verbal behavior of children and on topics of broader conceptual interest. She is a board member of several schools and organizations and is currently a member of the Executive Council of the Association for Behavior Analysis. In addition, she oversees the association’s graduate program accreditation processes. Twyman earned her PhD from Columbia University Teachers College. She holds certification as an elementary and special education teacher and as a principal/school administrator.



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