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

Previous Page


Symposium #27
CE Offered: BACB
Applications and Evaluations of Stimulus Equivalence-based Instruction with Advanced Learners
Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–2:50 PM
W176b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Day-Watkins (Caldwell College)
Discussant: Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
CE Instructor: Denise Kerth, Ph.D.

College-level learners need to master complex and voluminous material in an efficient and effective manner, and to express mastered material across a variety of modalities (e.g., multiple-choice, written short-answer, and oral responding). Research has evaluated the use of equivalence-base instruction (EBI) with advanced learners (e.g., college students) across a variety of academic content domains (e.g., Fields, Travis, Roy, Yadlovker, de Aguiar- Rocha, & Sturmey, 2009; Fienup et al., 2009; Fienup et al., 2010; Ninness et al., 2005; Walker, Rehfeldt, & Ninness, 2010). However, the technology of stimulus equivalence instruction requires further empirical refinement and broader-based dissemination (Fienup, Hamelin, Reyes-Giordano, & Falcomata, 2011). The first paper in this symposium evaluated the use of EBI to teach contingencies of reinforcement and punishment to graduate students. The second paper taught graduate students to form derived relations among representations of prominent behavior analysts. The third paper used EBI to teach the concept of statistical variability to college students. The final paper investigated the influence of mastery criterion on the number of college students who successfully formed equivalence classes consisting of neuroanatomy stimuli. Collectively, these studies suggest procedural refinements in EBI and additional support for the use of EBI to teach complex academic material to advanced learners.

Teaching Concepts of Behavior Analysis Using Stimulus Equivalence-Based Instruction
DENISE KERTH (Bancroft), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Daniel Mark Fienup (Queens College, City University of New York), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell College), Patrick R. Progar (Caldwell College)
Abstract: Although behavior analytic concepts are relevant to a variety of higher educational disciplines (Morris et al., 2001), intervention strategies to teach them are few (Malott & Heward, 1995). The present study used a computer-based match-to-sample program to teach four, 4-member equivalence classes consisting of contingencies of operant behavior (i.e., positive and negative reinforcement and punishment) to 25 college students. A pretest-training-posttest design was used to assess participant performance on a written multiple-choice test (selection-based responding), a written short-answer test, and an oral test. All participants acquired the trained relations during computerized match-to-sample instruction. Participants were randomly assigned to training using either single- or multiple-exemplar training (SET; MET) involving descriptions of operant contingencies. Compared to pretests, scores improved on the written multiple-choice test for 24/25 participants following both SET and MET equivalence-based instruction (EBI) and 21 participants maintained higher scores two weeks after EBI. In addition, correct written and oral topography-based responses demonstrated response generalization by all participants following EBI, and at two-week follow-ups. Thus, EBI can be used to effectively teach concepts of behavior analysis and that a selection-based teaching protocol can promote the emergence of a number of novel topography based responses.

Teaching Graduate Students about Prominent Behavior Analysts Using Stimulus Equivalence-Based Instruction

JESSICA DAY-WATKINS (Caldwell College), Denise Kerth (Bancroft), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Carol McPheters (Caldwell College)

Bailey and Burch (2010) describe competence in identifying prominent behavior analysts among their essential skills and responsibilities for behavior analysts. The present study applied the stimulus equivalence paradigm to establish relations among the name, photograph, professional affiliation, and research interest of six prominent behavior analysts (3 men and 3 women). Participants were 15 graduate students in a Master of Arts applied behavior analysis program. A pretest-training-posttest design was used. First, three, 4-member equivalence classes (either men or women) were established using a match-to-sample software program. Selection-based responding was used during training and testing. Three relations were trained and nine additional relations emerged without additional training, thus demonstrating the emergence of equivalence classes. Participants also demonstrated response generalization by responding correctly during oral posttests. After learning the first set of behavior analyst classes (either men or women), the results were replicated within-subjects with another set of three, 4-member equivalence classes. The results were maintained in a two-week follow up. The present study extends the stimulus equivalence literature to a novel content area while also expanding research that is relevant to the field of behavior analysis (Walker & Rehfeldt, 2012).

Teaching College Students the Concept of Statistical Variability Using Stimulus Equivalence-Based Instruction
LEIF ALBRIGHT (Caldwell College), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell College), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell College), April N. Kisamore (Caldwell College)
Abstract: Although coursework in statistics is prevalent within an undergraduate psychology major, many students struggle to master the content. The present study evaluated the use of equivalence-based instruction to teach the statistical concept of variability to college age learners. Custom computer software controlled equivalence-based instruction was used to teach two, 4-member classes (representing high or low variability) to 6 undergraduate students. Stimuli in the classes consisted of a term (high or low variability), a definition, multiple number sets of high or low variability, and standard deviation values. A pretest-training-posttest-maintenance design was used. Participant performance was evaluated on both a computer-based test (pre and post) and a written multiple-choice test (pre and post). All participants acquired the trained relations during match-to-sample instruction. Testing scores improved on both the computer (not shown) and the written selection-based responding tests (see figure) for all participants following equivalence-based instruction. In addition, test performance maintained one week after instruction. Thus, equivalence-based instruction can effectively teach concepts of variability and that a selection-based teaching protocol can promote the emergence of responses to a novel selection-based testing protocol.

Effects of Mastery Criteria on Equivalence Class Formation

DANIEL MARK FIENUP (Queens College, City University of New York), Julia Brodsky (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

The stimulus equivalence paradigm has been applied to teach numerous college-level academic topics, such as algebra (Ninness et al., 2006), statistics (Fields et al., 2009; Fienup & Critchfield, 2010, 2011), neuroanatomy (Fienup, Covey, & Critchfield, 2010), and disability categorization (Walker et al., 2011). A review by Fienup, Hamelin, Reyes-Giordano, and Falcomata (2011) identified several technological variations among protocols found in the research literature. This study examined the influence of mastery criterion on the number of learners who successfully formed equivalence classes. All participants learned neuroanatomy concepts using match-to-sample training and the simple-to-complex protocol (includes learning baseline relations and derived relations probes). Researchers randomly assigned participants to a particular mastery criterion that consisted of blocks of training (e.g., Fields et al., 2009), or either of two consecutive correct responses (6 or 12) (e.g., Fienup et al., 2011). All mastery criteria resulted in equivalence class formation; however, the 12 consecutive correct criteria was most successful. The block mastery and 6 consecutive correct criteria produced more failed derived relations probes and resulted in participants spending more time completing remedial training prior to the formation of academically relevant equivalence classes. Implications for developing an effective and efficiency technology of equivalence-based instruction will be discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh