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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #17
CE Offered: BACB

From Basic Research to Large-Scale Dissemination of a Behaviorally Oriented Reading Curriculum

Sunday, September 29, 2019
10:30 AM–11:20 AM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 4, A1
Area: DEV; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Deisy De Souza, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Costa Hubner (University of São Paulo)
DEISY DE SOUZA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Deisy de Souza is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil. She obtained her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at University of São Paulo (USP, 1981), and she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (1984-1985), at Charlie Catania's lab. She has conducted research on basic behavioral processes such as choice behavior, avoidance of aversive events, and stimulus control, and participated in pioneering studies applying the stimulus equivalence paradigm to investigate the acquisition of symbolic functions by auditory stimuli in users of cochlear implants. Over the past 30 years de Souza has also participated in the efforts of a research team investigating the acquisition of symbolic relations, developing equivalence-based instruction (EBI) to teach reading and writing skills, and disseminating computerized individualized teaching programs for individuals that benefit little from regular schools (children with protracted histories of school failure, children with intellectual disabilities, illiterate adults, etc.). The use of these programs by public schools gradually grew in scale, reaching progressively larger samples of learners. She is a Fellow of ABAI and a member of the Editorial Board of JEAB.


This presentation will focus on the results of the joint efforts of a research team in developing instructional procedures, derived from behaviorally oriented basic research, for teaching rudimentary reading and writing skills. Curriculum development was based on the concepts of verbal operants (B. F. Skinner), on the stimulus equivalence paradigm (Murray Sidman), and on the principles of the Personalized System of Instruction (Fred Keller). The procedures and contents were organized in a comprehensive curriculum, currently available online for use in school and therapeutic settings. The research program to validate the curriculum involved basic science to elucidate key, behavioral processes; translational science to study these processes under controlled laboratory conditions; and applied studies in the classroom to verify whether the findings of the translational program would be sustained in less controlled conditions. The delivery of the curriculum through public schools gradually grew in scale, reaching progressively larger samples of learners. Current investigations focus on the logistics to transfer the management of the teaching tools to the school system.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; graduate students; licensed psychologists.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the main behavioral principles that guided the construction of the curriculum to teach reading; (2) point a route for the integration of reading and writing repertoires; (3) accurately describe instructional strategies used to establish arbitrary relations between spoken words, printed words and pictures; (4) explain the role of equivalence classes on the emergence of derived discriminated operants such as tact, textual behavior, transcription, and on reading comprehension.



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