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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Symposium #377
CE Offered: BACB
Establishment and Emergence of Conditional Discriminations: Basic and Applied Research
Monday, May 31, 2021
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Discussant: Karen M. Lionello-DeNolf (Assumption College)
CE Instructor: Anna I. Petursdottir, Ph.D.
Abstract: Match-to-sample (MTS) procedures are often used to establish baseline conditional relations for equivalence class formation, both in the context of teaching educationally relevant skills and in the context of answering basic research questions. Equivalence classes are sets of physically dissimilar stimuli in which each member occasions selection of all other members. Only a subset of the relations among the stimuli must be taught directly; other emerge without instruction. We report the results of four studies, spanning the range from basic to applied, on the process and outcomes of establishing conditional discriminations via MTS instruction. Briana Ostrosky presents on the use of group contingencies and individual contingencies in equivalence-based instruction (EBI). Juliana Oliveira presents on the flexibility of equivalence classes established via one-to-many instruction and classes established via direct instruction of all possible relations among the stimuli. Reagan Cox presents on the emergence of new conditional relations as a function of stimulus uniformity and the sequence of baseline instruction. Finally, Alex Brune presents on the effects of different types of selection responses on acquisition in MTS training with children of typical development learning conditional relations among abstract stimuli. Karen Lionello-DeNolf discusses the research and its implications.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): conditional discrimination, equivalence-based instruction, stimulus control, stimulus equivalence
Target Audience: BCBAs, graduate students, researchers
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe how match-to-sample procedures are used to establish conditional discriminations 2. Describe scenarios in which new conditional discriminations emerge after others are taught 3. Describe the defining features of equivalence-based instruction
Comparing Group-Based and Individualized Equivalence-Based Instruction to a PowerPoint Lecture to Establish Equivalence Classes
(Applied Research)
BRIANA OSTROSKY (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Jessica Day-Watkins (Drexel University)
Abstract: Equivalence-based instruction (EBI) refers to the teaching of socially relevant material (e.g., academic material) with equivalence class formation procedures (Fienup, Covey, & Critchfield, 2010). In the research literature, equivalence training and testing has been almost exclusively conducted on an individual basis, apart from Varelas and Fields (2017) who applied a group contingency using EBI. To extend the literature, the present study compared the effects of using EBI with an interdependent group contingency, individualized computer-based EBI, and a lecture on class formation with college students. The classes consisted of information related to reinforcement and punishment procedures (i.e., name, definition, contingency table, vignettes). For both EBI groups, a cloud-based student response system (SRS) application was used. To compare the effects on responding, three tests were administered before and after each intervention: (a) written open-ended, (b) written multiple-choice, and (c) card sorting. Results showed improvements in class-consistent responding across all groups following training. However, responding was significantly higher in the two EBI training groups for the written multiple-choice tests, and the group-contingency-based EBI was significantly more effective in promoting topography-based responding than was lecture. These results suggest that EBI can be effectively implemented in more naturalistic settings (e.g., classroom) using a group contingency with portable and affordable technology.
Class Reorganization Following One-to-Many and Complete Instruction
(Basic Research)
JULIANA SEQUEIRA CESAR DE OLIVEIRA (Texas Christian University), Gregory Tomlinson (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Previous research has evaluated the extent to which equivalence-based instruction (EBI) is more efficient or produces stimulus classes with different properties than complete instruction (CI) in which all relations between stimuli in a class are taught directly. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the flexibility of the formed stimulus classes in EBI and CI procedures with a contingency reorganization. Forty undergraduate students received training to establish 3 stimulus classes with 4 members in each class. The students were randomly assigned to two groups: EBI according to a One-to-Many (OTM) training structure and CI. After undergoing training and equivalence test (Phase 1), participants received contingency reorganization training (Phase 2). In the reorganization phase, the relations A1B2, A2B3, A3B1 were established as correct. Class flexibility was evaluated in an immediate class reorganization post-test. Preliminary data suggest the EBI group required fewer training trials to complete ABCD training, and performed similarly to CI in the equivalence test. Additionally, the EBI group required fewer training trials in reorganization training, and performed better in the reorganization test compared to the CI group.
Effects of Stimulus Uniformity and Training Sequence on Emergent Conditional Discriminations
(Basic Research)
REAGAN ELAINE COX (Texas Christian University), Cullen Westerfield (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: This study explored the interaction between stimulus uniformity and training sequence on emergent stimulus relations. Sixty college students were randomly assigned to six groups. Three groups received match-to-sample (MTS) training to relate abstract visual stimuli to text stimuli before training to relate pairs of text stimuli (standard condition). The other three groups of participants received the opposite training sequence (reverse condition). One group in each condition was assigned each of three sets of abstract stimuli (6 patterns, 6 irregular shapes, or a combination of 3 patterns and 3 shapes). Emergent relations between pairs of abstract stimuli were assessed in an MTS test. Our previous findings suggest the standard condition produces greater accuracy and/or speed at test compared to the reverse condition. Based on the hypothesis that performance in the standard condition may be influenced by operant seeing of the abstract stimuli during training with text stimuli, we expected to see the largest difference between standard and reverse in the shape/pattern group, due to enhanced visualizability. Preliminary data from a partial sample suggest an advantage of standard over reverse training only in the shape/pattern group; reaction time data have not been analyzed. Results will inform stimulus selection for future research.

Comparing Two Selection Response Topographies on Acquisition of Simultaneous Matching-to-Sample Skills in Young Children of Typical Development

(Basic Research)
ALEX BRUNE (Caldwell University; Somerset Hills Learning Institute), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Adrienne Jennings (Caldwell University), Sharon A. Reeve (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Kevin J. Brothers (Somerset Hills Learning Institute)

Matching-to-sample (MTS) is often used to teach the prerequisite skills needed for establishing important complex behaviors. Therefore, using the most effective and efficient procedures when teaching matching-to-sample skills is paramount. One important MTS procedural variable concerns the selection response topographies used during acquisition. Although Green (2001) recommends teaching students to point to the correct comparison stimulus instead of placing the sample on top of the correct comparison, no previous research has directly compared these two topographies. The current study used an alternating treatments design to assess the effects of a pointing selection response and a “placing on top” selection response on the effectiveness and efficiency of acquisition of a visual-visual simultaneous arbitrary matching-to-sample task with three typically developing 4- to 5-year-old children. A trial-and-error with an error correction procedure was used to measure the relative differences in percentage of correct responses and sessions to criterion across the two selection response topographies. The results showed no systematic advantage of placing the sample stimulus on top of the correct comparison stimulus relative to a pointing selection response. Therefore, the results of the current study contrast with the recommendations made by Green (2001) for teaching children to point to the correct comparison stimulus rather than place the sample stimulus on top of the correct comparison stimulus.




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