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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #228
CE Offered: BACB
Instructional Strategies to Promote Active and Meaningful Learning in Higher Education
Sunday, May 27, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom C
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Andrew Bulla (Armstrong State University )
Discussant: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
CE Instructor: Andrew Bulla, Ph.D.

Research has demonstrated that only roughly 63% of students beginning college complete a bachelors degree within 6 years (Berkner, He & Forrest Cataldi, 2002). Some proposed explanations of these data resort to blaming the types of students enrolled in college, stating that more high school students with lower achievement are being accepted into university settings (Berliner & Biddle, 1995). To better help educators, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U; 2007) specified goals and objectives for undergraduate educational outcomes. Behavior analysis poses a solution to this problem by offering a variety of methods that have demonstrated increases in academic achievement in higher education (Bernstein & Chase, 2013). The first presentation will focus on analyzing instructional content and arranging teaching strategies to promote concept learning in higher education. The second presentation will discuss the effects of SAFMEDS on college students performance as compared to practice multiple-choice questions, demonstrating one way to include fluency based instruction in the classroom.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Higher Education, Instructional Design, SAFMEDS
Target Audience:

The target audience for this symposium is any professional in the field of behavior analysis who is interested in or currently teaching behavior analysis, either at the university level or training level.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the symposium, attendees will be able to 1.) State what SAFMEDS are and how to use them 2.) Discriminate examples of conceptual teaching vs. non-examples of conceptual teaching 3.) State two behavioral strategies that can be applied to higher education
Teaching Complex Concepts in Higher Education: An Analysis of Instructional Material and Strategies to Promote Conceptual Learning
ANDREW BULLA (Armstrong State University )
Abstract: For many, the goal of higher education is to teach beyond general understanding and promote critical thinking as well as conceptual understanding of material. Skinner defined a concept as a set of stimuli that share more than one property, and all members within that class control the same response (Skinner, 1974). Tiemann and Markle (1990) further analyzed what a concept is and defined concepts in terms of critical features (i.e., those properties that must be present for the stimulus to control the response), and variable features (i.e., those properties that are irrelevant for membership in the stimulus class). Concepts are most often acquired through direct instruction. Research in instructional design principles specify optimal conditions to teach concepts including, but not limited to, teaching using a set of far-out examples and close-in non-examples, a sufficient amount of practice, and testing for conceptual learning with novel stimuli that differ from your teaching stimuli (Tennyson & Park, 1980; Tiemann and Markle, 1990; Markle, 1990). The current presentation reviews the available research on concept instruction and provides recommendations for teaching complex concepts in higher education. Additionally, specific strategies for teaching and assessing conceptual information will be shared.

Outcomes of Fluency-Based Practice: Using Say All Fast a Minute Every Day Shuffled (SAFMEDS) With College Students

(Applied Research)
KATHRYN M. KESTNER (West Virginia University), Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University), Catherine Stephens (West Virginia University )

Techniques aimed at building fluency are thought to promote efficient learning and retention (Quigley, Peterson, Frieder, & Peck, 2017). One method for gaining fluency is a specialized method of studying flashcards called Say All Fast a Minute Every Day Shuffled (SAFMEDS). The aim of the current study was to evaluate the extent to which using SAFMEDS affected performance in a traditional college course. We compared exam grades of students assigned to study SAFMEDS to those of students assigned to practice multiple-choice questions. The participants were undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory course on behavior principles. Students were assigned home and in-class practices of either SAFMEDS or multiple-choice questions, and they were graded on fluency and accuracy during in-class performances. Nearly three times as many students enrolled in the multiple-choice sections received low exam grades (D or F letter grades) compared to students enrolled in the SAFMEDS sections. These differences occurred despite no significant differences in the GPA or academic standing of participants across groups. This research demonstrated a meaningful outcome of using SAFMEDS with college students and presents one method for arranging fluency activities in a traditional college course.




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