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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #160
Equivalence Class Formation: Meaning, Classroom Utilization, Writing, Delayed Emergence and Theory
Sunday, May 25, 2014
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
W176b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB/EDC; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)
Discussant: Julio C. De Rose (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)

This symposium explores how equivalence based instruction can be implemented in a low tech classroom, how equivalence class formation informs a better understanding of meaningful stimuli, how the establishment of joint control of graph-printed description relations can induce paragraph length descriptive writing, and how the delayed emergence of equivalence classes with extended testing challenges Sidman’s theory of class formation.


Learning to Write Without Writing. Effects on Writing of Relational and Nonrelational Descriptions.

JACK SPEAR (Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York  ), Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)

A special form of arbitrary conditional discrimination training was used to establish relations between interaction based graphs and printed paragraphs that describe the content of the graphs. Thereafter, participants wrote descriptions of the graphs. Each paragraph contained sentences that described the directionality of the functions in the graphs, the interactive effects of the two variables, and the relational elements of the graphs. A quantitative analysis of the accuracy of these two types of elements in each sentence type showed differential effects of the training conditions. The low level of training increased accuracy of non-relational elements in directionality statements and did not improve accuracy of relational statements. It also did not improve accuracy of non-relational and relational descriptions in interaction and intersection statements. The high level of training improved the non-relational and relational phraseology in all of the sentences. This analysis shows how level of training conditional discrimination training differentially influenced the accuracy of completeness of written descriptions of graphs that depicted the interactive effects of two variables on behavior.


Using Clicker Training in a Standard Low-tech Classroom Setting to Teach Biology Based Equivalence Classes.

ANTONIOS VARELAS (Hostos Community College, City University of New York), Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)

The use equivalence based instruction (EBI) class room settings is rarely used. The present experiment describes a procedure that uses answer clicker technology to establish equivalence classes in a class room setting with 40 college students. A sorting test was conducted initially to determine whether the stimuli in the biology based classes were related to each other: they were not. Thereafter, training of AB and CB relations was conducted by presentation of a trial that contained a sample and three comparisons. Students selected the correct comparison with clickers, the responses of which were registered by the clicker software system. When the last student answered, the correct answer was displayed along with the percentage of student who answered correctly. Training continued until all students answered correctly. Thereafter, the procedure was repeated with CB training. Once completed, a sorting test was administered to determine whether the classes were formed. 85% of students formed classes. This demonstrates a means of using equivalence based instruction in a class room setting without the use of computers. The use of the sorting test to assess class formation substantially shortened the duration of an EBI session. Finally, students in the classroom enjoyed learning with this procedure.


Enhancement of Equivalence Class Formation by Prior Conditional Discrimination Training; Functions of Meaningful Stimuli.

ROXANA I. NEDELCU (The Graduate Center, City University of New York  ), Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)

Meaning and the enhancement of equivalence classes by prior establishment of arbitrary conditional discriminations. Meaningful stimuli serve as Sds, as elements in conditional discriminations, and as members of categories. The present experiment determined whether the establishment of a conditional discrimination with a meaningless shape, the C stimulus, would enhance the formation of an equivalence class that contains the C stimulus. When the C stimulus was linked to only one other stimulus, CX, its inclusion in a set of other abstract stimuli, ABCDE enhanced class formation but not to the same extent as the inclusion of a C stimulus that was a meaningful picture. When the abstract C stimulus was linked to VWXY and Z stimuli, its inclusion in the ABCDE set resulted in equivalence class formation that matched that produced by the inclusion of a picture. These results then clarify further now the behavioral functions of meaningful stimuli enhance the formation of equivalence classes.

Extended Testing and Delayed Emergence of Derived Relations
TORUNN LIAN (Oslo and Akershus University College), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College )
Abstract: In the present study, the participants experienced an extended number of test trials. First, participants experienced conditional discriminations training with three 5-member experimenter-defined classes in a linear series training structure. Then they experienced symmetry, transitivity and equivalence test trials in random order with directly trained conditional discriminations interspersed. Each trial type was presented five times during this test block, yielding 300 test trials. This test block was repeated four times, constituting a total of 1500 test trials per participant. Participants were offered a 10-15 minutes break in between the test blocks. All of the trial types in all test blocks were presented without programmed consequences. The results show that some of the participants performed consistently in accordance with the experimenter defined classes in all tests. Some of the participants did not respond in accordance with stimulus equivalence despite high accuracy of directly trained conditional discriminations in the first test. In some of the participants responding in accordance with stimulus equivalence occurred only after repeated exposure to test trials. The latter results are not easily compatible with Sidman’s Bag theory, proposing that all derived relations should immediately emerge following the establishment of the baseline conditional discriminations and an appropriate account of these performances will be discussed.



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