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 #230
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in Extending Equivalence-Based Instruction Protocols and Research Designs
Sunday, May 26, 2019
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Fairmont, Second Level, International Ballroom
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Bryan J. Blair (Long Island University - Brooklyn)
CE Instructor: Bryan J. Blair, Ph.D.
Abstract: In recent years, research in the area of Equivalence-Based Instruction (EBI) has demonstrated that a variety of skills can be taught using basic EBI experimental preparations, including undergraduate and graduate academic content and behavior analytic skills. EBI is approaching a status as an evidence-based practice, however, many questions remain (e.g., training/testing protocols, use of compound/complex stimuli, prompting, response topography, fluency, class size, reinforcement schedule, instructional feedback, EBI system design, research design etc.) The first study in the current symposium addresses some of these issues (compound/complex stimuli, response topography) while teaching typically developing adults complex socially relevant skills (Skinner’s verbal operants) using computer-based learning tools with video vignettes. In the second study, response fluency, as opposed to accuracy, was assessed as a dependent variable and implications will be discussed. The third paper discusses issues and challenges related to demonstrating experimental control in pretest-posttest EBI research studies (history and maturation threats to internal validity) and proposes a possible solution.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): fluency, research design, stimulus equivalence, verbal behavior
Target Audience: ABA practitioners (post-graduate) and researchers.
Learning Objectives: N/A

Using Equivalence-Based Instruction With Video Vignettes to Teach Skinner’s Verbal Operants

BRYAN J. BLAIR (Long Island University - Brooklyn), Lesley A. Shawler (Endicott College)

While equivalence-based instruction has been thoroughly investigated using a variety of stimulus-stimulus relations (e.g., auditory-visual, visual-visual etc.) across settings and participants, the formation of equivalence classes with video stimuli has yet to be fully systematically investigated. Videos are widely used by learners of all ages in training and educational settings, and the widespread availability of high-speed internet across devices makes an investigation into how to incorporate video-based stimuli into emergent learning protocols socially relevant and necessary. The current study evaluated the use of video vignettes to teach Skinner’s verbal operants to ABA practitioners, and the establishment of six 4-member equivalence classes (the elementary operants) where only two relations in each class were directly trained. Specifically, the purpose of the current study was to assess whether the use of video vignettes as part of an EBI system using selection-based conditional discrimination and match-to-sample training, and topography-based tact training, would result in the establishment of equivalence classes and emergent responding across response topographies. Initial data suggest that, like other stimulus-stimulus relations, compound auditory-visual stimuli, such as videos of applied vignettes, can be used to form equivalence classes with minimal direct training and a near immediate emergence of derived relational responding. Implications and future research questions will also be discussed.

Advancing the Analysis of Rate of Responding in a Stimulus Equivalence Paradigm
HAZEL BAKER (Advances Learning Center and LEARN Behavioral), Ginette Wilson Bishop (Advances Learning Center and LEARN Behavioral), Katherine A. Johnson (Advances Learning Center and LEARN Behavioral)
Abstract: Both stimulus equivalence and fluency-building are areas of behavior-analytic research that have fostered much replication and academic progress. To date, the research in these areas has not comprehensively examined the outcomes of equivalence-based instruction on rate of responding. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of teaching trained relations in an equivalence paradigm on rate of accurate responding. Typical adults were recruited to participate in a basic study that used accuracy-based teaching methods to train specific relations, and measure rate of accurate responding in addition to percentage of accurate responding throughout the protocol. The results suggest that when accurate responding emerges, rates of responding do not match trained relations as clearly. Additionally, categories of emergent responding (such as reflexive, transitive, and symmetric relations) may occur at different rates, and be impacted differently by the teaching procedure. Because these results are the first single-subject analysis of this sort, implications should be considered preliminary while research on the topic progresses. Applications of equivalence-based instruction continues to be informed by progression of basic research, including implications that different measurements of outcomes inform different understandings of equivalence.

The “Air Gap” Research Design: Demonstrating Experimental Control With Participant Isolation in Within-Subjects Research Designs

PAUL MAHONEY, II (Amego, Inc.), Bryan J. Blair (Long Island University - Brooklyn)

Internal validity in research is demonstrated through the careful implementation of experimental designs and procedures that mitigate the impact of threats to validity or confounds caused by variables that are challenging to completely eliminate (e.g., opportunities to learn with another in other settings, participant abilities that change throughout study, and testing effects). Within-subject designs are uniquely able to reduce the threats to internal validity with repeated measurements of performances, the establishment of stable baseline responding, the measurement of effects of the repeated application of the independent variable, and the replication of the effects of the independent variable in a multiple-baseline design. However, in research with skill acquisition where gradual changes in learner performances are difficult to observe (e.g., in equivalence-based instruction (EBI) protocols in which skills are generally acquired quickly and posttests demonstrate the near immediate emergence of untrained responding), traditional experimental designs have been seen as insufficient in mitigating threats to internal validity. We discuss some of those criticisms and propose a possible solution based on experimental isolation that might control for threats to internal validity inherent in pretest-posttest designs, particularly in EBI research.




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