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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #58
CE Offered: BACB
Improving College Instruction: Experimental Evaluations of Three Teaching Procedures
Saturday, May 26, 2012
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
613/614 (Convention Center)
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Neal Miller (The Ohio State University)
Discussant: Traci M. Cihon (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Neal Miller, M.Ed.

When teaching college students, professors use a variety of strategies, ranging from traditional lectures to hands-on experiences and demonstrations. Although much has been written about the general need for evidence-based practice in education, relatively little has been published regarding instruction on the college level. In order to determine how to best structure college courses, it may be useful to conduct experimental evaluations of common teaching methods. Three technologies that are often used in college settings, but have not been sufficiently studied are (1) the use of flashcards to teach concepts, (2) the use of vocabulary banks to teach a foreign language, and (3) the use of online study games for quiz preparation. In this symposium, we will present evidence on each of these educational practices, and discuss the implications of these findings for college teaching. Specific recommendations will be made regarding ways to improve the efficiency of each procedure, and how they can be combined with traditional teaching methods.

Keyword(s): college teaching, flashcards, online games, vocabulary
The Effects of a Study Activity on the Academic Performance of College Students
JESSICA GAMBA (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Tracy L. Kettering (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Lorraine M. Bologna (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Susan K. Malmquist (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: This study assessed the effects of a behaviorally based study game on weekly quiz scores in a graduate level class. An alternating treatment design counterbalanced across two participating sections of the course was utilized in order to control for potential time- or curriculum-based effects. Specifically, the game was available each week to one of the two sections of the participating course. Students were required to use the game when it was available for a total of at least 30 min in the week prior to taking the quiz associated with the unit of study. Average quiz scores were higher for students who had interacted with the game compared to when the game was not available.

Teaching Behavioral Concepts to College Students: A Comparison of Flashcards Containing Examples Versus Definitions

Neal Miller (The Ohio State University), JAMES NICHOLSON MEINDL (University of Memphis), Jonathan W. Ivy (Mercyhurst College), Joshua Garner (The Ohio State University), Nancy A. Neef (The Ohio State University)

Because college students often use flashcards as a tool for learning concepts, it may be useful to determine the most effective format. Fox and Ghezzi (2003) evaluated the effects of practicing with definitions versus examples. Although training with examples led to superior performance on a subsequent quiz, it was unclear whether examples were superior in general, or if the similarity between the formats of the quiz and flashcards produced this effect. A group of 19 college students enrolled in an introductory course on applied behavior analysis participated in this study. On the first day of classes, students were given a set of flashcards containing 10 key terms from the course. In each set of cards, 5 of the terms had definitions on the back, while the other 5 had examples. After practicing with the cards, students were tested on whether they could name the term when looking at the definition or example. Once they mastered this, the students were given a quiz in which they had to provide examples and definitions for all 10 terms. Students performed better on quiz items that were taught using examples, but were also more accurate on items that matched the format used in the flashcards (i.e. asked for a definition of a term they practiced with a definition).


A Comparison of Vocabulary Banks and Scripts on Native English Speaking Undergraduate Students' Acquisition of Italian Verbal Repertoires

BRITTANY L. DEAN (University of North Texas), Traci M. Cihon (University of North Texas), Christopher J. Stephens (St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley)

There is a paucity of behavior analytic research on second language acquisition, yet now more than ever there is a need for societies to become fluent in at least one additional language. The current study seeks to find efficient methods to teaching a foreign language by applying behavior analytic principles in a college classroom setting. The researchers compared two study methods and the effects on Italian language acquisition, retention, generalization, and conversational fluency. The first study method was vocabulary banks, which are frequently used but there is no empirical support for their utility. The second method was scripted conversations, based on observations from a cultural immersion program in which Italian and American students worked together to produce a play in both languages. Cihon and Stephens (2011) observed students using lines from the play to initiate conversations and overcome the language barrier. Preliminary results indicate that participants engaged in more Italian exchanges in vocabulary bank testing sessions than in script testing sessions; however participants emitted more Italian words during script testing sessions. This indicates that exchanges were more complex after studying scripts than after studying vocabulary banks. However, these patterns were different when we divided participants based on prior exposure to Italian language. Students who had no prior exposure to Italian engaged in more exchanges in script testing sessions and emitted more words during script testing sessions. Participants who had at least two classes in Italian prior to the study engaged in more exchanges and emitted more words during vocabulary bank testing sessions. This finding suggests further research is needed to determine efficient teaching methods and the role of prior experience in using these study methods.




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