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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #48
CE Offered: BACB
ACoLE/BARR: Behavioral Assessment of Reading and Writing: Analyzing Student's Skills and Establishing Teaching Goals
Saturday, May 29, 2021
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
CE Instructor: Rocio Rosales, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: DEISY DE SOUZA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Reading and writing skills can be conceived as a network of equivalence relations between stimuli (e.g., printed words, dictated words, pictures, objects) and between stimuli and responses (e.g., picture naming, textual behavior, transcription, dictation-taking). We have been using this conceptual framework as a foundation for the development of assessment tools and teaching procedures. In this presentation I will describe an instrument for the assessment of basic repertoires involving S-S and R-S relations which characterize the skills of beginning readers. The instrument comprises 15 tasks, organized in blocks of 15 trials each. Some tasks measure identity matching-to-sample (picture identity, printed word identity), arbitrary auditory-visual MTS (picture recognition, printed word recognition), and visual-visual matching-to-sample MTS (picture <--> printed word correspondence). Other tasks measure discriminated operants for which the discriminative stimuli are pictures (picture naming), printed words (copying, textual behavior ["reading'']), and spoken words (dictation-taking). The child performance in these tasks allows the identification of basic perceptual skills (does the student see and hear?), vocal skills (does the student articulate the sounds with accuracy and in the correct sequence?), and the main discriminations required to read and write accurately. Failures in some of these tasks (or in all of them) provide important information about the student's current repertoire and the gaps that need to be developed. The instrument was applied to approximately 2300 students (6 to 12 years old). Individual results allowed the evaluation of selection-based responses (listening and seeing behavior) and topography-based responses (verbal operants in vocal or written modes) and to define a profile of the student's repertoire. Averaged data showed that the matching skills were significantly correlated with textual behavior and dictation-taking. An "integration" index taking into account all the scores showed that, as predicted by the stimulus equivalence paradigm, the interdependence of the operants increased as the entire repertoire developed. The integration index may be a useful tool for the prediction and evaluation of the effects of teaching programs for establishing the target repertoire in non-readers.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in basic (initial) reading and writing repertoires: assessment and teaching procedures

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify the elements of the network of stimulus-stimulus and stimulus-response relations which characterize an integrated repertoire of reading and writing skills in beginning readers; (2) conduct a functional analysis of the verbal operants involved in reading and writing (identifying the three-term contingencies and the behavioral function of each operant); (3) justify the relevance of selection-based responding as requisites for the acquisition of the operants: textual, copying and dictation-taking; (4) describe the graphics and Interpret the scores of individual students obtained with the application of the BARR Instrument; (5) derive behavioral objectives to promote the target repertoires based on the student's skills profile and the identification of skill gaps.
DEISY DE SOUZA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Deisy de Souza is Full Professor at the Psychology Department, Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil, where she teaches behavior analysis in graduate and undergraduate courses in Psychology, and in Special Education. She obtained her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Universidade de São Paulo (USP), under the direction of Carolina Bori, and held a post-doctoral position at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, working with Charlie Catania. She has published articles and book chapters on non-human and human relational learning, including studies applying the stimulus equivalence paradigm to investigate the acquisition of symbolic relations involved in reading and writing, and in developing curricula to teach those skills. She is past-Editor of the Brazilian Journal of Behavior Analysis (BJBA), past-Associate Editor of Acta Comportamentalia, and she is currently a member of the Board of Editors of JEAB. She received the 2015 Distinguished Contributions to the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior Award  from the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior Special Interest Group (EAHB SIG); she was elected ABAI Fellow (2018); and she is currently the International Representative in the ABAI Council.




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