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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #75
CE Offered: BACB
A Behavioral Approach to Teaching Writing Behaviors
Saturday, May 23, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M4, Independence E
Area: EDC/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Cameron Mittelman (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
CE Instructor: Cameron Mittelman, M.A.

Effective writing ability is arguably one of the most important skills an individual must acquire. Despite the crucial role of effective writing skills in today’s society, many individuals do not possess strong writing ability and do not consider themselves good writers, as only 27% of 12th grade students met the criteria for “Proficient” writing, while 21% of 12th grade students met the criteria for “Below Basic” writing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). This distribution is even more concerning for black and Hispanic students. These findings suggested that many individuals leaving the public secondary education system lack the skills required to successfully meet the writing demands of the workplace and of higher education. With that in mind, this symposium will demonstrate several ways in which behavior analytic methods may be used shape different aspects of the writing process. The first presentation will review an intervention package consisting of programmed instruction and rate-building to develop revision skills. The second presentation will examine the use of lag schedules to increase variable fictional writing with children with autism. The final presentation will present an integration of precision measurement, pinpointing, and multiple learning channel practice with mechanics exercises.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Fluency, Precision Teaching, Programmed Instruction, Writing
Target Audience:

The target audience for this symposium are behavior analysts, teachers, supervisors, and anyone else who is required to either develop written products or to review written products as apart of their job.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) pinpoint specific writing behaviors that may need to be developed; (2) describe fluency-based procedures for developing the pinpointed behaviors; (3) describe schedules of reinforcement that may maintained continued occurrence of the developed writing behaviors.
The Effects of Programmed Instruction and Fluency-Building on Writing Error Detection and Correction
(Applied Research)
CAMERON MITTELMAN (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: The present study examined the effects of a three-component intervention package consisting of computer-delivered programmed instruction combined with fluency-based practice involving example and non-example discrimination along with non-example correction on participants’ ability to identify and correct to three different writing targets: passive voice, grammar errors, and inconcise writing. Using a multiple probe across writing targets experimental design, participants’ individually completed the three components of the intervention one at a time with revision probes occurring after each component. Results showed some variation across writing targets and across participants, but in general the intervention package resulted in improved revision ability as all four participants showed higher rates of correct revisions per minute after the three phases of the intervention when compared to baseline rates for all three of the writing targets. Furthermore, the achieved changes in revision accuracy showed clear maintenance over time for the majority of the writing targets for three of the four participants. However, the intervention package appeared to have mixed outcomes for the participants’ ability to revise their own writing, with only two of the four participants having fewer errors for all three writing targets on the generalization probe.
The Effects of LAG Schedules of Reinforcement on Fictional Writing
(Applied Research)
LAWRENCE PLATT (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Writing is used in numerous contexts from filling out a job application to taking standardized exams. Writing can also be used as an outlet for creative and imaginative ideas. Individuals with autism experience difficulty engaging in imaginative ideas (American Psychological Association, 2013). The literature on creative writing and increasing sentence variability with individuals with autism is limited. Lag schedules of reinforcement have been used to increase vocal variability (Esch, Esch, Love 2009), mand variability (Brodhead, Higbee, Gerencser & Akers 2016), and intraverbal repertoires (Contreras & Betz 2016). Lag schedules were extended in this study to look at variable fictional sentences with two children with autism using a multiple baseline across participants design. For one participant the Lag schedule condition resulted in almost 100% increase in novel sentences compared to the continuous schedule of reinforcement condition. For the other participant a 50% increase in novel sentences in the Lag schedule condition compared to the continuous schedule of reinforcement. Implications are that Lag schedules of reinforcement can be used to increase the novelty of responding.
Shaping Technical Writing With Precision Measurement
(Service Delivery)
ADAM HOCKMAN (The Mechner Foundation)

Clear technical writing is critical for communicating complex information to professional and lay audiences. Due to a lack of instruction and practice, behavior analysts and researchers who venture beyond formulaic article writing are prone to structural and stylistic errors. Such writing patterns are noticeable and less desirable to some readers. In her technical writing course Writing Solutions for Behavior Analysts, Marilyn Gilbert introduced a series of Flags—stimuli that signal a particular situation in one’s writing that may need to be changed. The course helped students fluently identify and change Flags that make writing unclear, misleading, or unnecessary. When teaching stylistic writing, Gilbert employed an age-old copywork exercise or the rewriting of an exemplar text to shape an easy and approachable style that effectively communicates scientific information. Many successful writers, including Benjamin Franklin, have used the copywork exercise to improve overall and domain-specific writing (e.g., sales copy). This paper will present an integration of precision measurement, pinpointing, and multiple learning channel practice with Gilbert’s mechanics exercises (Flags) and an eyes/ears copywork approach to promote high-level writing among behavior analysts and other science writers.




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