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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #236
CE Offered: BACB
Teaching Typical and Near-Typical Learners Higher Order Reasoning, Planning, Conceptual Knowledge and Their Foundations
Sunday, May 26, 2019
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Fairmont, Second Level, Gold
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Andrew Robert Kieta (Morningside Academy)
Discussant: Andrew Robert Kieta (Morningside Academy)
CE Instructor: Andrew Bulla, Ph.D.

The four presentations in this symposium will illustrate evidence based practices in teaching higher order instructional objectives. The first two presentations examine teaching higher order thinking and planning repertoires, beginning with Vivian Mach, who will describe procedures for teaching children to generate questions when faced with a discrepant situation - the critical initial step in the reasoning process. Next, Shiloh Isbell will detail a a schoolwide extension of an executive functioning curriculum that assesses specific skill deficits, teaches students relevant planning and tracking repertoires, and probes self-reflection of students’ developing skillsets. In the third presentation, Drew Bulla will present a study that investigates how to select and craft specific active student responding questions to promote higher order conceptual learning. Finally, Aoife McTiernan will discuss the process of launching a learning center in Wales to teach a wide array of these foundational and higher order instructional objectives to typical learners. The chair will make comments on each presentation in turn as the symposium proceeds.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

behavior analysts and other psychology and educational professionals

Ask Yourself a Question: How Children Learn to Generate Questions to Solve Real-Life Situations
(Service Delivery)
VIVIAN MACH (Morningside Academy), Joanne K. Robbins (Morningside Academy)
Abstract: When we sense discrepancies in our world, feel stuck in the midst of a problem situation, or look for answers when a curiosity arises, we have a need for both questions and answers. Before we can solve the problem we need to think. As John Dewey (1910) wrote, “Thinking begins in a forked-road situation, a situation which is ambiguous, which presents a dilemma, which proposes alternatives.” To formulate and define the problem to solve, we must first ask ourselves questions. In this presentation we will describe our Talk Aloud Problem Solving (TAPS) class, which teaches children how to think and  reason through those problems. The “thinking classroom” described here presents a sequence of instruction for elementary students with mild special education needs. The learners recognize the better question(s) to ask when presented with real-world scenarios. They learn to discriminate which questions are most relevant and will lead to solutions. They generate questions while playing the game of 20 Questions to learn about the efficiency of asking the right question. They experience field trips that are designed with built-in ambiguity such as navigating a downtown neighborhood with closed sidewalks due to construction and take a shopping trip to a cashierless store.
A Schoolwide Implementation of a Program Designed to Shape Executive Functioning Behaviors
(Service Delivery)
SHILOH M ISBELL (Morningside Academy)
Abstract: Many students are unsuccessful in school not because they have a specific learning disability but rather because they lack a strong repertoire of executive functioning skills. This presentation is an extension of a project conducted at Morningside Academy during the 2017-18 school year by two middle school teachers, who designed and implemented a program to assess and shape executive functioning skills. Rather than treating the learning deficits labeled executive functioning as cognitive problems, the program assessed those repertoires through a behavior analytic lens. The final product of the project was a set of assessments and tracking tools called The Executive Functioning Tracking Journal. Initial findings showed that students who participated in the program showed an increase in executive functioning behaviors, which were a result of modeling, practice, and self-reflection built into the program. This presentation will show the processes for implementing the program in multiple classrooms - including how to tailor it to different learner profiles - coaching teachers to ensure fidelity of implementation, and collecting meaningful data to make instructional decisions.
An Evaluation of Instructional Strategies to Teach Conceptual Knowledge in an Introductory College Course
(Applied Research)
ANDREW BULLA (Georgia Southern University - Armstrong ), Jennifer Wertalik (Georgia Southern University - Armstrong), Daniel Anthony Crafton (Georgia Southern University - Armstrong)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that only approximately 63% of students beginning college complete a bachelor’s degree within six years (Berkner, He, & Cataldi, 2002). 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). Active student responding represents one behavior analytic practice that has garnered attention in higher education. Active student responding (ASR) occurs when students make an observable response to instructional material (Heward, 1997). Guidance on the type of questions asked during ASR activities appears minimal. The type of questions presented during response card activities that yield the greatest learning outcomes represents an empirical question that has yet to be answered. The present study sought to evaluate the effects of the type of question asked during response board activities on the emergence of conceptual learning. More specifically, the experimenters directly compared the effects of practice questions that ask students to recall specific definitions to practice questions that require the student to discriminate between examples and non-examples of the concept presented during instruction. Results of the study are displayed on a standard celeration chart. Social acceptability data will also be presented.

The University of South Wales Academics Intervention Service: A Description and Evaluation of a University-Based Intervention Service for Teaching Academic Skills

(Service Delivery)
AOIFE MCTIERNAN (University of South Wales), Jennifer L. Austin (University of South Wales)

The Academics Intervention Service (AIS) at the University of South Wales provides academic tutoring to children between the ages of 6-11, using behavior analytic instructional approaches. An overview of the service is provided, as well as case examples, which demonstrate typical instructional components and outcomes. The AIS has recently been developed within the Behaviour Analysis Clinic at the University, and provides opportunities for both psychology and behavior analysis students to gain experience in the application of behavior analysis in educational settings. In addition to providing a description of services, we describe the clinical training provided, and discuss the advantages and potential barriers to growing such a service. Further analysis and data should be collected in order to evaluate long-term benefits for both clients and trainee professionals learning to provide behaviour analytic services. However, early data demonstrates benefits for each client in targeted academic domains and that the AIS a valuable setting for students and trainee professionals.




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