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.


First International Conference; Italy, 2001

Event Details

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Symposium #10
Errorless Learning in Children, Horses, Marine Mammals, and Dogs
Thursday, November 29, 2001
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Palladian Refectory Hall
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Lewis P. Lipsitt (Brown University)
Discussant: Stephen F. Rafferty (ABAI)
Abstract: The phenomenon of errorless discrimination learning was developed by Herbert Terrace in the early 1960s. Demonstrated in pigeons and rats, there has been little recent discussion of the advantages of the technique, or variations on it, as a model for learning in different species. The procedure is especially interesting because it has the advantage of avoiding delivery of punishment or protracted periods of non-reinforced behavior. In Terrace's method, a fading procedure is used; for example, negative stimuli that, in ordinary discrimination learning would draw incorrect responses, are only gradually phased in. The learner essentially declines to respond to the incorrect stimulus, such as a dim green light, which increases in brightness on successive occasions. Several advantages over traditional discrimination learning procedures. For example, the stimulus to which no errors are drawn, does not acquire an aversive quality, and thus aggressive and escape responses seldom occur. In this symposium we will explore variations, in different species (dogs, marine mammals, horses, and children), on procedures for bringing the learner to a stable criterion of perfect performance in an environment in which no or few errors occur.
Errorless Learning in Children
MICHAEL F. CATALDO (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Various procedures for minimizing errors during learning by children will be discussed. However, some advantages will be cited for presenting children with error-present learning tasks. Significant in the arrangement of learning sequences for children is that children are rapidly developing organisms. Performance criteria, as dictated by a child’s culture, require rapid behavioral changes by the child. This, in combination with the less than optimal teaching situations of a culture, argues for the importance of training children to be able to acquire and modify skills in less than optimizing circumstances. Similar to the argument against insulating children from all infectious agents so they can develop an effective immune system, developing children need to acquire the skill to learn in not only errorless but also error-filled circumstances.
Errorless Learning in Marine Mammals and Horses
SHAWNA KARRASCH (On Target Training)
Abstract: Shawna Karrasch works on "targeting" with horses and marine mammals, and demonstrates one form of errorless learning. This type of errorless learning is similar conceptually to modeling, following, imitation, verbal instruction, and fading. The initial stages of target training are not errorless; rather, the purpose of this training is to reduce errors in later stages.
Errorless Learning in Dogs
MARK LIPSITT (Lipsitt Training Services)
Abstract: Mark Lipsitt uses another form of errorless learning with dogs. His technique, designed to reduce the animal’s attention to irrelevant stimuli, is drawn from the work of Terrace, and decreases the occurrence of errors. This is done by gradual and early introduction of irrelevant stimuli. As with the Karrasch method, the initial stages of learning are not in fact errorless, but serve to reduce errors in later stages. Under laboratory conditions, Terrace was able to demonstrate close approximations to errorless learning, i.e., 100% correct responses through the process of learning. This is critical to the practitioner in ways that will be described.



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