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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #284
CE Offered: BACB
Investigating Complex Bi-Directional Relations and Joint Attention in Both Monolingual English and English Language Learners
Sunday, May 24, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon C
Area: DEV/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: JeanneMarie Speckman (Fred S. Keller School Teachers College Columbia University)
CE Instructor: JeanneMarie Speckman, Ph.D.

Verbal Development Theory (VBT) has focused on which cusps and capabilities are related to and/or necessary for the devlopment of advanced verbal repertoires. Also of interest are the relations between and among different types of complex verbal relations. This current body of research extends the findings supporting VBT. In the first paper, the author investigated the relations between gradients of bi-directional naming (BiN) and the emergence of arbitrarily applicable relations in young children. The author of the second paper investigated the aquisition of BiN in both monoloingual children and children who were English language learners. In the third paper, the author investigated whether an intensive tact procedure was effective in increasing joint attention responses in preschoolers who previously did not demonstrate the initiation of joint attention. The results of this research expand on what we know about the acquisition of complex verbal behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): arbitrarily applicable, Bi-directional naming, echoic behavior, RFT
Target Audience:

Behavior Anlayst Supervisors, advanced practioners

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will learn how the acquisition of different gradients of naming affect the establishment of arbitrarily applicable derived relations in childen. 2. Participants will learn differences in naming acquisition for children who are ELL and children who are monolingual English. 3. Participants will learn how conditioned reinforcement for social praise is related to the initiation of joint attention in children.

Bidirectional Naming, Echoics, and Arbitrarily-Applicable Derived Relations Among 20- to 37-Month-Old Toddlers

LEAH FRIEDMAN (Teacher's College, Columbia University)

There is growing interest in children’s acquisition of complex language repertoires across domains of behavior analysis. In three experiments, I studied the sources of reinforcement for bidirectional naming (BiN) and the implications of the naming continuum on the emergence of arbitrarily-applicable relations (AAR). In Experiment 1, I tested the correlation between repeated pairings of auditory and visual stimuli (defined by the presentation of naming experiences using a storybook) and emergence of BiN. Listener responses significantly increased across three repeated experiences, suggesting the emergence of unidirectional naming (UniN); however, speaker data remained low. In Experiment 2, I tested the role of echoics on the emergence of BiN. The data suggested that echoic responding was not significantly related to BiN. I then tested the effects of the proximity of visual and auditory stimuli on the emergence of BiN using repeated stimulus pairings (tact experience). While the degree of BiN was not reliably affected by proximity conditions, results of the study showed the emergence of untrained language relations. I discuss these findings with regards to the relation between the joining of listener and speaker responses, the establishment of BiN, and the emergence of AAR.


A Comparison of Bidirectional Naming for Familiar Stimuli Across English Language Learners and Monolingual English Speaking Students

KATHERINE GARCIA (Teachers College Columbia University)

In this study, I assessed the bidirectional naming (BiN) capabilities of 16 English Language Learners (ELL) and monolingual English preschool-aged students. Participants were divided into 2 group and assessed for the presence of BiN, in English and Spanish, using novel familiar stimuli. Group I consisted of ELL students while Group II was made up of native English-speaking students. Preliminary results showed that all only 1 participant demonstrated the presence of BiN across both languages, while all others, regardless of their native language, demonstrated higher degrees of unidirectional naming (UNi) or BiN in English. Subsequently, these students were matched based on levels UNi and underwent a repeated probe procedure using a simultaneous treatment design. The experimenters used novel sets of familiar stimuli during each intervention session to test the effects of this procedure and to compare the degree of BiN across ELL and monolingual English students. Results showed increases in untaught listener and speaker responses for monolingual English students and variable levels of responding for English Language Learners.

The Role of Joint Attention in the Verbal Behavior Development Trajectory
GINGER HARMS (Teachers College, Columbia University )
Abstract: The current experiment joins the developmental research on joint attention with the verbal behavior development theory (VBDT) of language acquisition by investigating the relation between joint attention and the verbal behavior developmental cusps. An initial descriptive analysis of 37 preschool students with and without disabilities determined that conditioned reinforcement for adult faces combined with a tact repertoire explained 64% of the variance in participants’ initiation of joint attention (IJA). Six participants, all of whom had conditioned reinforcement for adult faces, but lacked an independent tact repertoire and IJA completed 5 phases of an intensive tact intervention (ITI), totaling 125 mastered tacts. A delayed multiple probe design was used. Following the intervention, 5 out of 6 participants showed increases in IJA, with additional collateral increases in responding to joint attention (RJA), demonstrating that conditioned reinforcement for social attention results in increased joint attention in individuals with the necessary prerequisites. The study supports the VBDT philosophy that reinforcers are taught, and behaviors develop as a result. Furthermore, the findings align with the existing literature suggesting that joint attention is a prerequisite to language development.



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