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 #463
Finding Our Way: Intervening on Psychological Flexibility to Improve Performance on Specific High-Stakes Academic Tasks
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
4C-4 (Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Emily Squyres (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Eric J. Fox (FoxyLearning)
Abstract: The university experience is filled with obstacles to continued academic success. Many of these obstacles are high-stakes tasks that are difficult, not only because of the skill they require of students but also because of the dread they evoke. Thus, for many students, everything associated with tasks like advanced statistics or standardized tasks, exerts aversive control on behavior, resulting in a narrow, rigid repertoire, and limited learning. This symposium will include three studies that examined the impact of interventions on psychological flexibility for improved performance on such tasks. The first study will examine the impact of a statistics study group that includes a willingness component on statistics-related anxiety, willingness toward that anxiety, and course performance. The second study will examine the impact of training deictic relational responding, or perspective-taking, on reading comprehension subtests of two standardized exams. The third study will examine the impact of four practice conditions on Graduate Record Exam performance. Targeting psychological flexibility for college achievement will be broadly discussed in light of the findings.
Keyword(s): Perspective-taking, Psychological Flexibility, Willingness

Going From Null to Neat-O: Psychological Flexibility Processes Applied to a Behavioral Statistics Study Group

EMMIE HEBERT (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

This study examines the development of a support system for students struggling with the demanding coursework of statistics classes and the anxiety that comes along with it. Statistics coursework presents a significant challenge for students in behavioral science degree programs, with many students needing to take the class multiple times before earning a passing grade. Not surprisingly, previous research has found that statistics coursework induces significant anxiety (e.g. Richardson and Suinn 1972; Rounds and Hendel 1980; etc). Accordingly, this study examines the role of anxiety and psychological flexibility with respect to its influence on performance in statistics class. A study group was formed for undergraduates taking a course, required for psychology majors, on methodology and statistics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Anxiety towards statistics and willingness to feel and think about it were measured at the beginning of each study session. In addition, the relationship of psychological flexibility to success in the course was also measured. Course content and psychological flexibility were both addressed during the sessions. Preliminary results suggest a successful experience by most study group members. Implications about the role of psychological flexibility and the experience of anxiety in such classes are discussed.

The Effects of a Perspective Taking Intervention on Reading Comprehension Scores in College Students
APRAL FOREMAN (University of Mississippi), Maureen Kathleen Flynn (University of Mississippi), Michael Bordieri (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of perspective taking training on reading comprehension scores. According to Relational Frame Theory (RFT), perspective taking involves a particular type of relational responding called deictic relational responding (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, and Roche, 2001). In this type of responding, one responds to stimuli in terms of their relationship (e.g., spatial, temporal) with themselves and others. A few perspective taking protocols have been developed that incorporate deictic relational responding (e.g., McHugh, Barnes-Holmes, & Barnes-Holmes, 2004; Rehfeldt, Dillen, Ziomek, & Kowalchuk, 2007) and have been used to assess and train perspective taking. Studies have shown that people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia make more perspective taking errors than typically developing peers (e.g., Rehfeldt, Dillen, Ziomek, & Kowalchuk, 2007; Villatte, Monestès, McHugh, Freixa i Baqué, & Loas, 2010). There has also been some success in training perspective taking in individuals diagnosed with high-functioning autism (Rehfeldt, Dillen, Ziomek, & Kowalchuk, 2007). Aside from these findings, little is known about increasing perspective taking skills and the benefits of doing so in typically developing adult populations. It is hypothesized that this type of relational responding may be important in reading comprehension because comprehension requires an ability to take different perspectives. The aim of this study is to see if training this type of responding increases reading comprehension scores in college students. A multiple baseline design across participants was used to examine the impact of the perspective taking training on reading comprehension tests (including GRE practice tests and the Nelson Denny reading comprehension test).

Verbal, Quantitative, and Writing! Oh My!: Skill vs. Flexibility-Focused Preparation for Graduate Record Examination Performance

EMILY SQUYRES (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Alexandria Maynard (Student), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

The Graduate Record Examination presents a significant challenge for many students wishing to attend graduate school in psychology or behavior analysis. Most students report anxiety associated with the Graduate Record Examination, the avoidance of which can make adequate preparation impossible. Thus, Graduate Record Examination scores are likely impacted by not only a students skill on the tasks assessed, but also his or her psychological flexibility with the exam experience. However, preparation tools available focus primarily on skill-building, with no direct attention to improving flexibility with exam-related anxiety. This multiple baseline study examined the impact of four conditions (verbal skills practice, math skills practice, exam focused flexibility practice, and a no practice control) on repeated exam performance. Participants are undergraduate and masters level Psychology student volunteers. Baseline data suggest improvement goals from 250 to 600 points. Exam-focused flexibility practice is expected to result in improvements in Graduate Record Examination scores comparable to skill-focused practice.




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