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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #71
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Social, Academic, and Music Concepts with Stimulus Equivalence-based Instruction
Saturday, May 24, 2014
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
W176b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College)
Discussant: Daniel Mark Fienup (Queens College, City University of New York)
CE Instructor: Kenneth F. Reeve, Ph.D.

Since Sidman and colleagues landmark studies on stimulus equivalence were published over 40 years ago, stimulus equivalence procedures have been used to effectively build novel and complex behavioral repertoires in both typical adults and children (e.g., Fields, Reeve, Adams, & Verhave, 1991; Connell & Witt, 2004; Lynch & Cuvo, 1995; Ramirez & Rehfeldt, 2009) and individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities (e.g., LeBlanc, Miguel, Cummings, Goldsmith, & Carr, 2003; Rosales & Rehfeldt, 2007). In this symposium, four papers that used EBI to teach socially relevant stimulus classes or concepts across a variety of learners will be presented. One study evaluated the use of EBI to teach identification of emotions by young learners with autism. The second study used EBI to teach the mathematical concept of multiplication to typical third grade children. The third study taught college students to form derived relations among representations of musical symbols and to play the piano in the presence of these stimuli. The last study investigated the teaching of verbal operants, typical of those found in ABA coursework, to graduate students. Collectively, these studies extend the scope of complex behavioral repertoires that can be taught to a wide variety of learners using EBI.

Equivalence Class Formation of Contextual Emotion Identification by Children with Autism
MATTHEW R. COLLIGAN (Caldwell College), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Dawn B. Townsend (Institute for Educational Achievement), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell College)
Abstract: Individuals with autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently display difficulties in identifying emotions of others, a skill crucial to social development (Ekman, 1984). These particular deficits may impede the development of functional social skills, such as making empathy statements and offering assistance to others. The purpose of this study was to extend the existing body of literature that investigated emotion recognition in children with ASD and the use of equivalence class training paradigms with individuals with ASD. A stimulus equivalence paradigm was used to teach three children with ASD to match textual emotion labels, photographs of faces displaying emotions, and stimuli that are likely to occasion displays of the emotions “happy,” “sad,” and “scared.”. Cross-modal generalization of contextual emotion identification and matching was programmed for, and assessed, by training responding in the presence of multiple-exemplars of photographs of faces displaying emotions, and stimuli that are likely to occasion displays of the emotions. Equivalence relations emerged across all participants and they also demonstrated cross-modal generalization of contextual emotion matching. As a result, participants developed functional pre-requisite skills that are essential to engaging in successful reciprocal social interactions and developing positive relationships with family and community members.

Using Stimulus Equivalence-Based Instruction to Teach Multiplication Concepts to Elementary School Learners

CASI HEALEY (Caldwell College), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell College), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell College)

Stimulus equivalence-based instruction is an efficient and economical way to teach complex repertoires, and has been used to teach learners of different intellectual functioning levels and ages. In this study, EBI was used to teach the mathematical concept of multiplication to six elementary school aged learners. A pretest-training-posttest-maintenance design was used. Participants lacked multiplication skills during the paper-and-pencil, oral facts assessment, and computerized pretests. Next, participants were trained using a match-to-sample procedure via a computer program. During match-to-sample trials, sample stimuli were presented followed by four comparisons in which one was the correct response. Four classes were trained. The stimuli in each class consisted of graphical representations, multiplication and addition facts, and the correct product. Following training, all participants demonstrated acquisition of trained relations, as well as the remaining untaught relations among the multiplication stimuli. Additionally, all participants demonstrated generalization and maintenance of both taught and untaught emergent relations in a follow up paper-and-pencil and oral multiplication fact assessments presented two weeks later.

Effects of Conditional Discrimination Training on the Emergence of Music Skills
KELLI KENT (California State University, Sacramento), Amber Robinson (California State University, Sacramento), Jonathan K Fernand (University of Florida), Kristin Griffith (California State University, Sacramento), Emily Darcey (California State University Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of a conditional discrimination training procedure on the emergence of basic music theory and piano skills. A matching-to-sample procedure was used to teach six undergraduate students to identify both musical chord symbols and textual notations when presented with their dictated names. Participants were also trained to play particular musical chords on the piano following the presentation of the dictated name of the musical chord. Following both training conditions, six relations emerged among the stimuli and participants were able to play the chords to a song on the keyboard in the presence of the symbol and the musical notation of the chord, thereby demonstrating transfer of function. Results support past research using stimulus equivalence procedures to teach a variety of skills. In addition, the results suggest that conditional discrimination training is effective in teaching adults to read musical notation and play specific chords on the keyboard.

Comparison of the Stimulus Equivalence Paradigm and Traditional Study: Learning Skinner's Taxonomy of Verbal Behavior

John O'Neill (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University), Bridget Munoz (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Chris Ninness (Stephen F. Austin State University), JAMES R. MELLOR (Southern Illinois University)

In the research literature, few strategies have been investigated to teach behavior analytic concepts. The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of stimulus equivalence procedures to a traditional study method when learning Skinner's taxonomy of verbal behavior. Graduate-level professionals participated via a web-based learning management system known as Desire2Learn (see Specifically, we used the stimulus equivalence paradigm to teach relations among the operant names, antecedents, consequences, and examples of each operant. The comparison group studied a portion of a chapter on verbal behavior (Cooper, Herron, & Heward, 2007). Generalization of responding to novel stimuli was assessed, as was the production of generative examples of verbal operants. On average, the participants in the equivalence group performed at a level that was 10 percentage points (i.e., a full letter grade) above that of the participants assigned to the traditional method of study. Thus, stimulus equivalence procedures can be used to effectively teach concepts related to Skinner's taxonomy of verbal behavior.




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