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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #479
Language: Its Role in Indigenous Education, Poverty, and Culture
Monday, May 25, 2009
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
North 122 A
Area: EDC/CSE; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Abigail B. Calkin (Calkin Consulting Center)
Abstract: Indigenous and minority education has not kept pace with the educational progress of Western Europeans in the same regions. Confronted by language and cultural losses, indigenous and minority people try to meld yet retain their way of life. Looking at the circumpolar nations’ practices as well as Native and minority cultures, we notice that cultural practices and language have often been snatched away in favor of the more dominant, western way of life. These small groups and the governments around the Northern Hemisphere have begun to look at the impact of these practices and how to preserve Native integrity while blending into the local, national pot. Is this even possible? Yes, but the results and potential for success hinge on the role central government plays and on increasing the present low language skills through programs such as Direct Instruction and Language for Learning. The participants, who work with the education of minority groups, will share standardized and standard celeration charted data from their work with Native Americans, First Nations, African Americans, and Hispanics. Data collected and analyzed from thousands of students show that we can educate people at the 80th percentile while retaining cultural heritages.
Indigenous Education in the Far North and the Lower 48
ABIGAIL B. CALKIN (Calkin Consulting Center)
Abstract: Tribe in Canada’s Yukon Territory asked what were the academic achievement levels of other peoples in the Circumpolar Regions. This question has many answers—some areas have high achievement, others do not, and on top of any answer given is the cultural overlay. In the Far North of Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Scandinavia, education systems have been used to acculturate native populations as well as destroy the local native culture. Even though countries do not use the same yardstick, we can begin to glimpse cross-national and cross-cultural comparisons by using standard scores, researched, authoritative opinions, and achievement test scores. In an effort to help indigenous populations in the Far North and southern areas cross the bridge to Western culture and achievement, village and tribal schools in many areas have used the Morningside Academy model. Two schools showing significant achievement growth are in British In 2003, Chief Darren Isaac of the Selkirk First Nations band of the Northern Tutchone Columbia and Oklahoma.
The Intersection and Culture
KRISTINE F. MELROE (Morningside Academy)
Abstract: Native nations in the US are facing a critical juncture to assimilate or maintain their culture. Historically, education, a discipline that can have a profound effect on social change, has played a destructive role in U.S. Native cultures and languages. Two saving options are to become proficient in English and move off the reservation to be economically stable, or stay on the reservation with few job opportunities yet surrounded by native culture. In order to move forward into positive educational and cultural developments, we offer a historical review of the role educational systems have played. This presentation examines the effects that the loss of language has on culture. Through surveys and interviews, we share the concerns of parents and community and their vision of the role education should play in saving the language and culture. We compare this to what has been written about the various cultures and languages. The behavior analyst’s understanding of human behavior places us in a unique position to make substantial contributions in creating an array of successful interventions for social change. An applied behavior analysis approach to education helps determine the appropriate interventions that support the culture and language so students can move between the cultures.
Low Language Skills = Low Learning
DEBORAH L. BROWN (SCOE/Morningside Academy)
Abstract: The cultural and educational history of bilingual students often shows they have low language skills and proficiency in both languages. Because of these low skills, their social and academic achievement are the lowest in the country. In Hart & Risley’s longitidunal study, the lower the socio-economic status, the lower the oral language. In early childhood, meaning is often communicated within a common social context and understanding. When contextual language is used out of context, e.g., in a bilingual situation, however, language cannot be understood. Therefore these young people are not prepared to interact in an educational setting with the context of language and cannot comprehend written text. As a result, the vocabulary gap between professional people and lower SES groups is huge and continues to grow larger.
Language for Learning
CATHY L. WATKINS (California State University, Stanislaus)
Abstract: Language for Learning is a Direct Instruction language development program designed to teach language, concepts, information, and knowledge that will benefit children in the classroom. The program was designed to address the needs of children who entered the school system without having mastered ‘the language of instruction.’ Language for Learning is used to teach oral language skills to children whose language is inadequately developed, including students for whom English is their second language, special education students, and children in speech/language classes. There is a strong foundation of research supporting both the Direct Instruction method and the Language for Learning program. This presentation will provide an overview of the content of Language for Learning and outcomes for various learners.



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