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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #187
CE Offered: BACB
Story Telling: Analysis, Assessment, and Effects
Sunday, May 30, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon E (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EDC/VRB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University)
Discussant: Ilene S. Schwartz (University of Washington)
CE Instructor: Bethany Raiff, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium will cover a sequence of papers addressing narrative language (or storytelling). First, we will introduce narrative language and provide a conceptual analysis. In this paper, the presenter will provide the context for the following presentations. Second, we will cover the assessment of narrative language. Because storytelling involves a large verbal operant and a number of smaller structural elements, the assessment of storytelling from a behavioral perspective poses several challenges. These challenges and new developments in the assessment of narrative language will be presented. Lastly, an empirical investigation of a narrative intervention with young children will be presented.
A Behavioral Analysis of Narrative Language
TIMOTHY A. SLOCUM (Utah State University)
Abstract: Narrative language, or storytelling, is an important area of language for young children. It is a context in which numerous specific language skills are practiced and reinforced, it has practical importance for communicating with adults, and it is correlated with later language and literacy outcomes. However, narrative language has received relatively little attention from behavior analysts. This presentation will offer a conceptual behavior analysis of narrative language. In this presentation, narrative language is described as a complex hierarchical repertoire of verbal skills that are organized by an abstract molar operant we can call narrative structure. Narrative structure includes elements such as setting, character, plot, and resolution. Narrative structure is learned over time and is amenable to shaping. Numerous other verbal operants are identifiable at lower hierarchical levels. For example, use of dialogue and indicators of temporal and causal relations are verbal operants organized by narrative structure. This conceptual analysis provides a context for the following presentations on assessment and intervention on narrative language.
Assessment of Narrative Language: Developments, Innovations, and Challenges
DOUGLAS B. PETERSEN (University of Wyoming)
Abstract: The assessment of narrative language is just beginning to gain widespread use among professionals concerned with the examination of child language. The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of common methods used to elicit and assess narration. This presentation will summarize the current criterion- and norm-referenced narrative assessment tools and introduce the newest developments in narrative assessment procedures, offering specific information about the Narrative Language Measure (NLM). The NLM is a new progress-monitoring instrument designed for use with young children. The relevance of narrative assessment to behavior analytic practice will be discussed.
The Effect of a Narrative Intervention on Preschoolers’ Story Retelling and Personal Story Generation Skills
TRINA D. SPENCER (Utah State University)
Abstract: This study evaluated the effects of a narrative intervention on story retelling and personal story generation skills of at-risk preschoolers with narrative language delays. Intervention was delivered in a small group arrangement (4 children and 1 instructor) and involved systematically adjusted materials, activities, and assistance within session to shape increasingly independent practice of oral narration. A multiple baseline design was employed with five participants across baseline, intervention, and maintenance phases. Participants made substantial gains in narrative retelling, improved personal story generation performance, and improvements maintained when assessed following a 2-week break. Applied and research extensions of narrative intervention will be discussed in terms of populations, procedures, and contexts.



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