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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Program by Invited Tutorials: Saturday, May 28, 2022


Invited Tutorial #50
Discrete Trial Teaching: The Worst Form of Instruction Except for All Those Other Forms of Instruction
Saturday, May 28, 2022
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
PSY/BACB/QABA/NASP CE Offered. CE Instructor: John McEachin, Ph.D.
Chair: Susan Wilczynski (Ball State University)
Presenting Author: JOHN MCEACHIN (Autism Partnership)

Discrete trial teaching (DTT) is one of the most widely implemented interventions for children with autism and at the same time one of the most maligned. It can be an incredibly powerful tool and is an acknowledged key component in intensive early intervention for children with autism. But it is also the intervention that everyone loves to hate: “It is too rigid and formulaic…Behavior change does not generalize to real-world contexts…It is overly contrived and unnatural…It does not have curb appeal.” But we have to consider whether all these purported shortcomings are inherent in the DDT model or are they by-products of rigidly formulated or incompletely implemented translations of the model. This talk will propose a broader conceptualization of DTT that allows for flexible application along a number of relevant continua according to the readiness of the learner. It will be argued that while the structure that is commonly viewed as a defining characteristic of DTT and arguably a major contributor to its effectiveness can and should be varied according to the needs of the student. In other words, we should aim to provide the just right amount of structure. This flexible but systematic approach has been referred to as progressive (e.g. Leaf et al., 2016). Within this progressive model all elements of DTT are fair game for rethinking what we do and why we do it. Willingness to contrive learning opportunities and space them closely together could actually be an advantage, not a shortcoming of DTT. The research behind this model will be described and the areas where more research is needed will be highlighted.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Instructional program developers and interventionists

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the historical development of DTT and the application to learners with autism; (2) name three examples of widely held rules for DTT that we should reconsider based on currently available evidence; (3) describe a continuum of structured vs. naturalistic teaching style and three important considerations for where to position your instruction on that continuum; (4) name a potential important advantage of willingness to contrive learning opportunities.
JOHN MCEACHIN (Autism Partnership)
John McEachin is a licensed psychologist and behavior analyst who has been providing intervention to children with autism as well as adolescents and adults with a wide range of developmental disabilities since 1974. He received his graduate training under Ivar Lovaas at the UCLA Young Autism Project. During his 11 years at UCLA, Dr. McEachin served in various roles including Clinic Supervisor, Research and Teaching Assistant, and Lecturer. His research has included a long-term follow-up study of the children who received intensive behavioral treatment at the UCLA YAP, which was published in 1993. In 1994 he joined with Ron Leaf in forming Autism Partnership, which they continue to co-direct. In 1999 they published A Work in Progress, a widely used behavioral treatment manual and curriculum for children with autism. Dr. McEachin has lectured throughout the world and co-authored numerous books and research articles. He is an instructor at Long Beach State University and consults regularly to families, agencies, and school districts, assisting in the development of treatment programs and providing training to parents, interventionists and teachers.
Invited Tutorial #51
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
SQAB Tutorial: Creating Artificial Organisms Animated by a Selectionist Theory of Adaptive Behavior Dynamics
Saturday, May 28, 2022
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 151A/B
Area: SCI; Domain: Theory
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Jack J. McDowell, Ph.D.
Chair: Peter R. Killeen (Arizona State University)
Presenting Author: JACK J. MCDOWELL (Emory University)

The evolutionary theory of behavior dynamics (ETBD) is a complexity theory, which means that it is stated in the form of simple low-level rules, the repeated operation of which generates high level outcomes that can be compared to data. The low-level rules of the theory implement Darwinian processes of selection, reproduction, and mutation. This tutorial is an introduction to the ETBD, and will illustrate how the theory is used to animate artificial organisms that behave freely, and continuously, in any desired experimental environment. Extensive research has shown that the behavior of artificial organisms animated by the theory successfully reproduces the behavior of live organisms, in qualitative and quantitative detail, in a wide variety of experimental environments, including concurrent ratio schedules with equal and unequal ratios in the components, and concurrent interval schedules with and without punishment superimposed on one or both alternatives. An overview and summary of the research testing the ETBD will be provided. The material interpretation of the theory as an instance of supervenient realism will also be discussed. Finally, possible future directions will be considered with an eye toward identifying the most valuable path or paths for future development.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in the basic science; individuals interested in computational theories of behavior or machine learning; individuals interested in modeling clinically significant human behavior

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) create artificial organisms animated by the selectionist theory; (2) run artificial organisms in experimental environments; (3) summarize empirical support for the theory; (4) consider possible material interpretations of the theory; (5) consider fruitful paths for further development of the theory.
JACK J. MCDOWELL (Emory University)
J. J McDowell received an A. B. from Yale University in 1972 and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1979. After completing his clinical internship, he joined the faculty of Emory University, where he is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology. Dr. McDowell is also a licensed clinical psychologist, and maintains a private practice of behavior therapy in Atlanta. Dr. McDowell's research has focused on the quantitative analysis of behavior. He has conducted tests of matching theory in experiments with humans, rats, and pigeons, has made formal mathematical contributions to the matching theory literature, and has proposed a computational theory of behavior dynamics. He has also written on the relevance of mathematical and computational accounts of behavior for the treatment of clinical problems. Dr. McDowell's current research is focused on his computational theory of selection by consequences, including studies of behavior generated by the theory's genetic algorithm, and possible implementations of the theory in neural circuitry. His work, including collaborations with students and former students, has been funded by NIMH, NSF, and NIDA. Dr. McDowell is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
Invited Tutorial #75
CE Offered: BACB
SQAB Tutorial: The PORTL Laboratory
Saturday, May 28, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 151A/B
Area: SCI; Domain: Applied Research
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Claire C. St. Peter, Ph.D.
Chair: Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Presenting Author: MARY ELIZABETH HUNTER (Behavior Explorer)
Abstract: Laboratory experiences allow students to see basic concepts in action and ask questions about behavior. Historically, the operant chamber has been used as a laboratory apparatus by behavior analysts. It can be used for both teaching and experimental investigations. However, most students no longer have access to hands-on experiences in animal laboratories. PORTL (the Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab) can fill this void. PORTL is a table-top game that creates a free-operant environment for studying the principles of behavior and their application. In this tutorial, you will learn how PORTL works and how it can be used to teach concepts such as reinforcement, extinction, shaping, and chaining. In addition to its use as a teaching tool, PORTL can be used to replicate research studies and ask research questions. You will learn how PORTL provides a convenient and inexpensive way for students to gain experience designing their own apparatus and identifying and manipulating relevant variables.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: This tutorial is designed for anyone who is interested in teaching others about basic behavioral principles. In particular, it will be of interest to university professors, researchers, and BCBAs.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss the relationship between PORTL and the operant chamber; (2) describe how the game PORTL is played; (3) describe how PORTL can be used for teaching; (4) describe how PORTL can be used for research.
Mary Hunter earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 2008 and a master's degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas in 2013. She provides animal training services to people and their pets, working mainly with dogs and horses. She also serves as president of the Art and Science of Animal Training nonprofit organization. In addition, Mary has taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Texas. As an instructor, her interest in teaching led her to convert an upper-level undergraduate class into an entirely self-paced, mastery-based course using Dr. Fred Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction. In 2019, Mary and Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz published their first book, PORTL: The Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab. Mary’s research interests include studying the process of shaping and finding better ways to teach people and to train animals. Her master's thesis, which examined the effects of a single reinforcer during shaping, was published in 2019.
Invited Tutorial #113
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
SQAB Tutorial: What Is MPR and How Has It Evolved?
Saturday, May 28, 2022
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 151A/B
Area: SCI; Domain: Theory
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Peter R. Killeen, Ph.D.
Chair: M. Christopher Newland (Auburn University)
Presenting Author: PETER R. KILLEEN (Arizona State University)

Galileo’s “book of nature is written in the language of mathematics.” What are the mathematical sentences for reinforcement schedules? Good theories are based on principles, or axioms, so you know what they assume. Those in the Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement (MPR) are: Reinforcers: 1) excite, and 2) direct, responding, which 3) takes time. Baum’s and Catania’s theories have similar principles. I describe the data that motivate each principle, and the mathematics that animate those principles and their interactions. Each of the principle-models were specific enough to be tested, and to evolve into more precise, or more general ones. The first, for example, is A = ar, where A is activation, a motivation, and r rate of reinforcement. I describe two of the basic schedules to give a sense of the machinery; and then note its extension to adjunctive behaviors, contrast, progressive ratio schedules, and behavioral momentum theory. I show data that required refinement of the models. Finally I shall relate MPR to a recent general theory of time perception, and bridge that to Shahan and Gallistel’s information theoretic approach to reinforcement, sketching the blueprint of a grand theory of perception and action

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

All conference attendees curious about a principled approach to theory construction in the realm of reinforcement schedules.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain why a principled approach to theory construction is valuable; (2) describe the three principles in MPR, and note the similarities to either Baum’s or Catania’s models; (3) describe how the presenter distilled one of the principles into a model; or how he applied that model to a reinforcement schedule; or how you would go about that yourself; (4) explain how the “coupling coefficient” (viz. strength of contingency) may be related to the new “Trace Theory of Time Perception;” (5) describe similarities and differences from other theoretical approaches (e.g., Baum, Catania, Hull).
PETER R. KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Peter received his doctorate in 1969 under the perplexed gazes of Howie Rachlin, Dick Herrnstein, and Fred Skinner. His only position was at Arizona State University (arriving as the department Previously-Known-As Fort Skinner in the Desert fell to the nativists). He has studied choice behavior, schedule-induced responses like polydipsia, reinforcement schedules, interval timing, and delay discounting. His reinforcers include the Poetry in Science Award; the APA Div. 25 Med Outstanding Researcher Award; the Hilgard Award for the Best Theoretical Paper on Hypnosis (!); the F. J. McGuigan Lecture on Understanding the Human Mind (!!); Presidents of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, and the 3rd International Seminar on Behavior (SINCA). A year at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Oslo birthed a behavioral energetics theory of ADHD, which received The Faculty of 1000’s “Must Read”. His statistic prep was an Emerging Research Front Feature on Thomson Reuters Sciencewatch. He has written oodles of screeds on choice and on timing; his first, now receiving social security, showed that pigeons were indifferent between free food and schedules where they had to work for it; his latest is a deep dive into the perception of sequential stimuli in the context of timing. He has also urged our field to turn some of their efforts to understanding the role of emotions in behavior, and to bridging to the field at large through study embodied cognition. In his golden years, family and friends; the health of behavior analysis; admiring nature; and thinking deep thoughts, are foremost in his life.
Invited Tutorial #129
The Camouflaged Reinforcer for Learning to Talk, Read, Write/Think
Saturday, May 28, 2022
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 102B
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
PSY/BACB/QABA/NASP CE Offered. CE Instructor: R. Douglas Greer, Ph.D.
Chair: Jo Ann Pereira Delgado (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Presenting Author: R. DOUGLAS GREER (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Abstract: Research that identified how children develop verbal behavior from experience located some of the stimulus control for learning names, their functions, and their many attributes as the network of relations expand. The learned reinforcers for the sequence of verbal developmental cusps evolve into bidirectional verbal operants. One of these (i.e., Incidental Bidirectional Naming or Inc-BiN) allows children to learn language relations without instruction or the delivery of reinforcement, rather the reinforcer resides in the effects of the behavior. Once this veiled reinforcement for relating stimuli crossmodally (i.e., overarching reinforcement for parity across listening and speaking) becomes part of the child’s community of reinforcers, EXPOSURE ALONE results in the accumulation of more complex relations. Some more complex relations include incidentally learning unfamiliar stimuli relations along with learning them from exclusion, including arbitrarily applicable relations. When this cusp joins reading and writing, contact with print results in listening and writing is speaking. Recent research found that children’s difficulties with reading, writing, or computing are often traceable to the lack of, or weak, stimulus control with the lnc-BiN cusp and is fixable by addressing reinforcement stimulus control for this or a developmentally earlier cusp.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Target Audience: Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify three bidirectional operant verbal developmental cusps; (2) identify the source of reinforcement for Incidental Bidirectional Naming (Inc-BiN); (3) identify levels of complexity for Inc-BiN and how the complexity expands from exposure alone; (4) identify the relation of Inc-BiN to reading, writing/thinking/computing; (4) identify how Inc-BiN is complementary to derived relational responding and RFT.
R. DOUGLAS GREER (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Doug Greer is Professor of Psychology and Education at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Teachers College of Columbia University. He has served on the editorial boards of 10 journals, published over 200 research and theoretical articles in more than 21 journals and is the author or coauthor of 14 books. Two of his most recent books are translated into Korean, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian. Greer has sponsored 252 doctoral dissertations, taught over 2,000 teachers and psychologists, originated the CABAS? model of schooling used in the USA, Ireland, Italy, England and founded the Fred S. Keller School ( He has done basic and applied experimental research in schools with students, teachers, parents, and supervisors as well as pediatric patients in medical settings. He and his colleagues have identified verbal behavior and social developmental cusps and protocols to establish them when they are missing in children. He is a recipient of the Fred S. Keller Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education from the American Psychology Association, a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), the ABAI award for International Contributions to Behavior Analysis, and is recipient of May 5 as the R. Douglas Day by Westchester County Legislators and the Jack Michael Award for Contributions to Verbal Behavior. He has served as guest professor at universities in China, Spain, Wales, England, Japan, South Korea, India, Ireland, Germany, Italy, USA, and Nigeria.



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