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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #187
CE Offered: BACB
Identifying, Understanding, and Teaching Concepts
Sunday, May 26, 2024
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 204 AB
Area: EDC/TBA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
CE Instructor: Claire C. St. Peter, Ph.D.

Identifying, understanding, and teaching concepts are each key for high-quality behavior-analytic approaches to our clinical work, research, and instruction. Yet, we sometimes use conceptual terms without clearly identifying the boundary conditions of the concept. Failure to clearly define the concept can result in learners using the concept in ways that are unintended or incorrect, and can leave teachers wondering how to resolve the errors. In the current symposium, we start with an example of the first step of conceptual instruction: conducting a concept analysis. We demonstrate how concept analysis can be used within the context of research and clinical practice by analyzing the concept of "treatment integrity." We then expand on this example by discussing how the critical features identified during the concept analysis can be used to develop a set of stimuli to teach the concept, to provide opportunities for learners to practice, and to assess generative responding. We close with advice about how to respond to learner errors during the acquisition of the concept.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): concept analysis, error correction, generative responding, procedural fidelity
Target Audience:

Audience members should have skills related to: (1) teaching a variety of learners, (2) instructional design in its foundational forms, (3) concepts like examples, non-examples, generalization, and generative learning.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify critical and variable features for the concept "treatment integrity" (2) Describe six steps for designing instruction to teach concepts (3) Describe three types of errors learners make during concept instruction and how to revise the teaching procedures to reduce future errors
A Conceptual Analysis of Procedural-Fidelity Errors
OLIVIA HARVEY (West Virginia University), Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Behavior analysts are infamous for using highly technical terms to describe their subject matter. However, terms may be adopted without a clear analysis of the underlying concept. In these cases, a concept analysis may provide some guidance to professionals using the term and to instructors who wish to teach their students about the term. One such term is procedural fidelity. Researchers have called for inclusion of procedural fidelity in published behavior-analytic research and the consistent incorporation of fidelity measures in clinical practice. Further, many scholars have begun classifying types of fidelity errors into two conceptual categories: omission errors and commission errors. However, the critical features for classification into these error types has not been specified. This lack of specification calls into question whether scholars classify errors similarly. The presentation will discuss the emergence of classifying fidelity errors, the findings of a conceptual analysis of fidelity errors, and the advantages and limitations of the current conceptualization of errors.

Designing Instruction to Teach Concepts and Conceptual Behavior

KENT JOHNSON (Morningside Academy)

An important dimension of instruction involves teaching conceptual behavior related to the broadly applicable generalizations of a content domain. In this presentation, after defining and exemplifying “concept” and conceptual behavior, I will outline the necessary components for teaching a concept in any domain. The first step is to conduct a concept analysis of the critical features that define a concept, and the features that vary from instance to instance of the concept. From this prescription we must develop a range of typical or “close-in” examples and “far-out” examples of the concept that illustrate both the critical and variable features, develop a minimum rational set of close-in non-examples of the concept, each of which is missing only one critical feature, and develop additional examples and non-examples that may be needed to produce the desired discriminations. Teaching a concept this way produces generative responding to examples and non-examples not presented during instruction. To assess learners’ generative responding, we must create another set of far-out examples and close-in non-examples from the concept-analysis prescription. Finally, after initially acquiring conceptual behavior, learners must practice with additional far-out examples and close-in non-examples. Once these components are created, a teacher is ready to develop an instructional sequence of tasks that include context-setting descriptions, rules, examples, and non-examples.


Whoops, There It Is! Using Error Analysis in Conceptual Instruction to Inform Your Instructional Program

ANDREW BULLA (Georgia Southern University - Armstrong )

One strategy instructional designers use involves creating lean programs with the fewest components necessary to get fluent performance of the skill we wish to teach. When teaching more complex skills, where the antecedent stimuli may be physically dissimilar to one another, designers must ensure they have provided a enough stimuli to adequately establish simple generative responding. Concept analyses present designers with a blueprint for assembling a minimum rational set of divergent examples and close-in non-examples. However, designers often need to include additional teaching, practice, and testing stimuli to adequately establish conceptual behavior. The question is, which additional stimuli should the instructional designer include? This presentation will highlight how instructional designers can conduct error analyses to identify learner error patterns in response to your instructional program. Based on these patterns, three types of errors can occur when learning concepts: Overgeneralization, undergeneralization, and misconceptions. Each of these types of errors require a different prescription from the instructional designer. We will discuss how to identify these errors, generate additional stimuli informed by these errors, and revise the instructional programs.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh