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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #449
CE Offered: BACB
The Role of Reinforcement in Classroom Settings
Monday, May 26, 2008
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: EDC/TPC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Phillip J. Belfiore (Mercyhurst College)
Discussant: Christopher Skinner (The Univesity of Tennessee)
CE Instructor: David L. Lee, Ph.D.

Reinforcement is certainly one of the most pervasive principles of behavior analysis. Unfortunately, in classroom settings many practitioners (a) fail to effectively apply this principle, (b) do not account for extraneous sources of reinforcement (thus rendering programs ineffective), and (c) do not understand the link between environments rich in reinforcement and persistence of behavior. Three papers will be presented in this symposium. In the first presentation, pilot data will be presented on an instructional program designed to teach pre-service teachers how to effectively use positive reinforcement in the classroom. In the second, a study that examined the effects of interspersing brief academic tasks within long academic tasks will be presented. In the final presentation, we present data for a model of resilience based on Nevins theory of behavioral momentum. The basis of this theory is that behaviors emitted in environments rich in reinforcement are more resistant to change than behaviors emitted in environments associated with relatively low levels of reinforcement. Descriptive and analog experimental data are presented in support of this behavioral model of resilience. The common link among these three presentations is the importance of accounting for, and taking advantage of all sources of reinforcement in the classroom.

Teacher preparation: Teaching the Principles and Application of Positive Reinforcement.
JUDITH SYLVA (California State University, San Bernardino), Doreen J. Ferko (California State University, Fullerton)
Abstract: The principles of positive reinforcement are a key aspect of Applied Behavior Analysis in classroom settings. These principles are frequently not considered in the application and use of positive reinforcement in the classroom resulting in overuse of ineffective reinforcement. This address will provide a rationale for explicit instruction in the principles governing the effective use of positive reinforcement in special education teacher preparation programs. A method for implementing such instruction as well as evaluating its effectiveness will be discussed. Pilot data will be presented and discussed in light of effective practices for teaching ABA principles in teacher pre-service preparation.
Time-Based versus Task-Based Contingencies: Which are More Effective for Independent Academic Assignments?
YOUJIA HUA (Pennsylvania State University), Samuel Stansbery (Pennsylvania State University), David L. Lee (Pennsylvania State University)
Abstract: Task interspersal is an academic material modification procedure designed to make task completion more reinforcing. It is implemented by adding a sequence of brief tasks prior to more difficult or nonpreferred target academic tasks. This procedure results in an increase in the number of conditioned reinforcers available for completing a given task. However, one limitation of the studies examining these effects is that researchers exclusively use time-based contingencies to study academic choice behavior. This procedure may (a) inadvertently limit student opportunities to respond to the target problems and (b) not accurately reflect the real contingencies in applied settings. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of time- and task-based contingencies on student choice of academic materials. In this study a concurrent-schedule design with a reversal was used to compare the students’ choice of worksheets when working under different task contingencies. Student choice of contingency and task performance data will be presented.
The Role of Classroom Environment in Persistence.
DAVID L. LEE (Pennsylvania State University), Phillip J. Belfiore (Mercyhurst College), Douglas Dexter (Pennsylvania State University)
Abstract: Research in the area of resilience seeks to determine factors that are related to success under difficult circumstances. However, much of the literature on resilience is correlational in nature. That is, we know that there are risk factors (e.g., poverty, dysfunctional home), but we are unsure why many of these risk factors cause poor outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the utility of the theory of behavioral momentum as a model to explain resilience. The theory of behavioral momentum, much like its counterpart in physics, suggests that behavior with a high level of momentum is likely to persist during changes in the environment. Behavior with a high-level of momentum is often associated with conditions rich in positive reinforcement, whereas behaviors that do not persist are often associated with low levels of reinforcement. In Phase One of this study we observed and documented positive and negative teacher behavior. In Phase Two students completed math problems when the teacher was both in (baseline) and out (resilience test) of the classroom. Results show that student persistence was greater when teachers left the room, for those teachers who delivered fewer negative consequences compared with teachers who delivered more positive consequences.



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