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Skinner Foundation Research Award

The 2014 B. F. Skinner Foundation Research Award for Graduate Student Research in California

Application Deadline: Dec. 1, 2013

The B. F. Skinner Foundation sponsors this award for graduate student research. Typically two awards of $500 each are available each year. Winners will be given the award at our annual conference. See past recipients below.

Purpose of the Award
  • To support and encourage research efforts in behavior analysis among graduate students in California
  • To promote Skinnerian science
  • To boost the overall quality of academic research in behavior analysis
  • To provide recognition for students conducting behavior analytic research (through a publication in the online newsletter Operants)


  • Applicants must be attending a graduate-level program in California.
  • Applicants must be members of CalABA.
  • The proposal must be for a student-driven research project, thesis or dissertation approved by their department of study.
  • Applicants do not have to be in a behavior analysis graduate program, but the research must be behavior analytic in nature. Consideration will be given to proposals that describe research with a focus on observable and measurable behavior (or the products thereof) as the dependent variable and the manipulation of well-defined environmental events as independent variables. Both applied and basic research proposals are encouraged. Applied research proposals should correspond to the guidelines suggested by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968, 1987). Basic research proposals should correspond to the criteria set forth in Sidman (1960/1988). Those submitting proposals are encouraged to look to the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis or the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior for examples of behavior analytic research.

In order to be accepted, the packet must contain:

  • A cover letter with the student's contact information, where they are attending school, their program of study, and what they intend to do with the award. The award can be used for almost anything, but preference will be given to direct research-related use, such as equipment, software, paying data collectors, purchasing reinforcers for participants, etc. For equipment or software, explain how it will be used in the research project. (One page.)
  • A letter of support from a supervising faculty. The letter should attest to the fact that the research is replicating/expanding knowledge in the field of behavior analysis.
  • An Abstract (500 words or fewer), outlining their research project.
  • An Introduction indicating why this research is important, how it relates to Baer et al. (1968, 1987) or Sidman (1960/1988), some supporting literature, and the research question. (No more than 3 pages.)
  • A Methods section indicating the design (ABAB, multiple baseline, etc.), the number of proposed participants, from where the participants will be recruited, the general timeline of the research, and an overview of the procedures that will be used. Exacting details are not needed, but the reviewer should be able to determine the feasibility of the study from the information provided. (No more than 3 pages.)

Submission Procedures

  • The materials including the cover letter, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, and References sections must be sent as a Word email attachment to
  • The entire email packet should not exceed 9 pages, including the reference page.
  • The Abstract, Introduction, and Methods sections must be double-spaced, in a manuscript 12-point font (such as Times New Roman) with margins set at 1 inch.
  • The faculty letter of support should be sent to:

    California Association for Behavior Analysis
    630 Quintana Rd #118
    Morro Bay, CA 93442

    OR it may be emailed, from the supporting professor's email address, to


Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied
Behavior Analysis
, 1(1), 91-97.

Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1987). Some still-current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of
Applied Behavior Analysis
, 20(4), 313-327.

Sidman, M. (1988). Tactics of scientific research. Sarasota, FL: Authors Cooperative. (Original work published 1960)

Past Recipients - Congratulations!    (top)

Candice Hansard
California State University, Northridge

Video Modeling to Train Individuals
The number of children in need of behavior analytic services far exceeds the number of behavior analysts who can train and supervise staff to implement assessments and behavior change plans with fidelity. As such, it is of paramount importance to find ways to maximize a supervisor's time in field. Graff and Karsten (2012) were the first to find that a self-instructional package was sufficient for novel staff to correctly conduct a multiple-stimulus without replacement (MSWO) and paired-stimulus (PS) preference assessment. Shapiro, Mendoza, and Kazemi (2013) replicated this study and found that 28% of participants still required feedback and in vivo modeling. To maximize supervisor time, I propose to use a video that includes instruction and modeling to teach undergraduates how to conduct a preference assessment. I will train five undergraduate students to reach the mastery criteria of 90% or above across two consecutive trials. All participants will view a video that includes instruction and modeling and will be asked to conduct a PS preference assessment with a simulated client.


Graff, R. B., & Karsten, A. M. (2012). Evaluation of a self-instruction package for conducting stimulus preference
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45(1), 69-82.

Shapiro, M., Mendoza, M., & Kazemi, E. (2013). Maximizing supervisors' efficiency: The use of enhanced written
instructions to teach undergraduates to implement a stimulus preference assessment. Unpublished manuscript,
Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge.

Marnie Shapiro
California State University, Northridge

Maximizing Supervisors' Efficiency: The Use of Enhanced Written Instructions to Teach Undergraduates to Implement a Stimulus Preference Assessment
Training of staff to implement preference assessments is of paramount importance because the efficacy of behavior change programs depends upon staffs' ability to identify stimuli that may function as reinforcers for individual consumers (Paramore & Higbee, 2005). Therefore researchers have developed effective and efficient supervisor-facilitated training strategies that incorporate a combination of verbal or written instructions, modeling, rehearsal, and/or feedback to teach staff to implement preference assessments with procedural fidelity (Roscoe & Fisher, 2008). However, due to time constraints and staff to supervisor ratios, recent research efforts have focused on developing training packages that maximize a supervisor's efficiency in field. Graff and Karsten (2012) were the first researchers to test the efficacy of a self-instructional package (i.e., enhanced written instructions) that did not require feedback by a supervisor in order for staff to meet the mastery criterion. The authors noted that although the use of a self-instructional package resulted in successful outcomes, it is difficult to determine if their enhanced written instructions would be as effective if the authors had not first exposed participants to the methods sections of Fisher et al. (1992) and DeLeon and Iwata (1996) at baseline. Thus, the purpose of my study is to replicate the methods used by Graff and Karsten (2012) and to extend and correct for the authors' self-disclosed limitation. At baseline, I will randomly assign participants to one of two baseline conditions. In the replication condition, three participants will receive Graff and Karsten's (2012) modified version of the methods section from Fisher et al. (1992). In the extension condition, I will simulate a baseline condition to approximate a real life setting (Iwata et al., 2000). Namely, the remaining three participants will receive instructions on a piece of paper that specify that they need to determine a consumer's preference. I hypothesize that participants will reach the mastery criterion independent of the type of instructions given at baseline. Results from this study may contribute to a body of scientific knowledge which can improve training and supervision procedures used in applied behavior analysis.


DeLeon, I. G., & Iwata, B. A. (1996). Evaluation of a multiple-stimulus presentation format for assessing reinforcer
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 29(4), 519533.

Fisher, W., Piazza, C. C., Bowman, L. G., Hagopian, L. P., Owens, J. C., & Slevin, I. (1992). A comparison of two
approaches for identifying reinforcers for persons with severe and profound disabilities
. Journal of Applied Behavior
, 25(2), 491498.

Graff, R. B., & Karsten, A. M. (2012). Evaluation of a self-instruction package for conducting stimulus preference
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45(1), 69-82.

Iwata, B. A., Wallace, M. D., Kahng, S., Lindberg, J. S., Roscoe, E. M., Conners, J., Hanley, J., Thompson G. P.,
Thompson, R. H., & Worsdell, A. S. (2000). Skill acquisition in the implementation of functional analysis methodology.
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33(2), 181-194.

Paramore, N. W., & Higbee, T. S. (2005). An evaluation of a brief multiple-stimulus preference assessment with
adolescents with emotional-behavioral disorders in an educational setting
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,
38(3), 399-403.

Roscoe, E. M., & Fisher, W. W. (2008). Evaluation of an efficient method for training staff to implement stimulus
preference assessments
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 41(2), 249254.

Jonathan Fernand
California State University, Sacramento

The Effect of Choice Between Non-preferred Foods on the Food Consumption of Individuals with Food Selectivity
Given the previous research on the advantageous effects of providing choices on noncompliance to demands and escape-maintained behavior (Powell & Nelson, 1997; Romaniuk et al., 2002) as well as the limited research on providing choices within a feeding context (Cooper et al., 1995), the purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effect of providing a choice between non-preferred edible items on the food consumption and problematic mealtime behaviors of individuals with food selectivity. Further, this study aims to assess the importance of the preference for items within a choice array when used as a treatment for food selectivity as well as evaluate, if necessary, the role of choice as an antecedent manipulation in mediating the negative side effects induced by escape extinction (i.e., nonremoval of the spoon procedure). Results of this study will help to develop future research regarding the implementation of antecedent interventions as an alternative to consequence-based interventions for the treatment of food selectivity. Future studies will be able to use the current research as a preliminary foundation in examining alterations to choice components on the food consumption of individuals with feeding disorders. Finally, the outcome of this experiment may impact how clinicians utilize choice components when treating food-related problem behavior.


Cooper, L. J., Wacker, D. P., McComas, J. J., Brown, K., Peck, S. M., Richman, D., Drew, J., Frischmeyer, P., & Millard, T.
(1995). Use of component analyses to identify active variables in treatment packages for children with feeding
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28(2), 139-153.

Powell, S., & Nelson, B. (1997). Effects of choosing academic assignments on a student with attention deficit hyperactivity
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30(1), 181-183.

Romaniuk, C., Miltenberger, R., Conyers, C., Jenner, N., Jurgens, M., & Ringenberg, C. (2002). The influence of activity
choice on problem behaviors maintained by escape extinction
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 35(4), 349-362.

Bryon Miller
University of the Pacific

Behavioral Assessment of Physical Activity in Young Children
The prevalence of people who are classified as overweight and obese in the United States is currently at epidemic proportions, with an adult and child combined overweight and obesity prevalence at 68% and 32%, respectively (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, & Curtin, 2010). Physical activity is a class of observable behavior and therefore amenable to the seven dimensions of behavioral analysis as outlined by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968, 1987). The current study will replicate and extend Larson, Hustyi, Normand, and Morley (2011) by evaluating an antecedent based functional analysis for physical activity in both solitary and group contexts. Additionally, a concurrent chains procedure will be used to assess activity preference in order to identify possible counter therapeutic activity preferences (Hanley, Tiger, Ingvarsson, & Cammilleri, 2009). Results of the current study will further validate the functional assessment methodology, through the replication of Larson et al. (2011). Additionally, the current study will attempt to generalize the findings of Hanley et al. (2009) to outdoor activities commonly available in primary education institutions. The results obtained from this study will further extend research on function-based assessments of physical activity, and will be used to inform subsequent interventions to increase physical activity.


Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied
Behavior Analysis
, 1(1), 91-97.

Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1987). Some still-current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of
Applied Behavior Analysis
, 20(4), 313-327.

Flegal, K. M., Carroll, M. D., Ogden, C. L., & Curtin, L. R. (2010). Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults,
. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(3), 235-241.

Hanley, G. P., Tiger, J. H., Ingvarsson, E. T., & Cammilleri, A. P. (2009). Influencing preschoolers' free-play activity
preferences: An evaluation of satiation and embedded reinforcement
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(1),

Larson, T. A., Hustyi, K. M., Morley, A. J., & Normand, M. P. (2011). The effect of outdoor activity context and group composition
on physical activity in preschool children. Manuscript in preparation.

Sean Blumberg
University of the Pacific

The Effect of Parent Modeling on the Rate of Food Consumption in Children
The purpose of the current study is to experimentally assess the effect of modeling by a parent on a child's food consumption rate during snack time. The current research seeks to expand upon a series of prior studies assessing modeling effects on drinking behavior in adults (Caudill & Marlatt, 1975; DeRicco, 1978; DeRicco & Garlington, 1977), eating behavior in adults (Rosenthal & Marx, 1979; Rosenthal & McSweeney, 1979), and a several non-experimental studies assessing modeling influences on the eating behavior of children (Birch, 1980; Hendy, 2002; Salvy, Coelho, Kieffer, & Epstein, 2007; Salvy, Kieffer, & Epstein, 2008). No previous study has experimentally demonstrated a modeling effect for food consumption with children. The current study will adopt several features from prior research and use of a within-subject ABCBC reversal design with baseline, accelerated, and decelerated consumption modeling conditions.


Birch, L. L. (1980). Effects of peer models' food choices and eating behaviors on preschoolers' food preferences. Child
Development, 51
(2), 489-496.

Caudill, B. D., & Marlatt, G. A. (1975). Modeling influences in social drinking: An experimental analogue. Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43
(3), 405-415.

DeRicco, D. A., (1978). Effects of peer majority on drinking rate. Addictive Behaviors, 3(1), 29-34.

DeRicco, D. A., & Garlington W. K. (1977). The effect of modeling and disclosure of experimenter's intent on drinking
rate of college students
. Addictive Behaviors, 2(2-3), 135-139.

Hendy, H. M. (2002). Effectiveness of trained peer models to encourage food acceptance in preschool children. Appetite,
(3), 217-225.

Rosenthal, B., & Marx, R. D. (1979). Modeling influences on the eating behavior of successful and unsuccessful dieters
and untreated normal weight individuals
. Addictive Behaviors, 4(3), 215-221.

Rosenthal, B., & McSweeney, F. K. (1979). Modeling influences on eating behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 4(3), 205-214.

Salvy, S. J., Coelho, J. S., Kieffer, E., & Epstein, L. H. (2007). Effects of social contexts on overweight and normal-weight
children's food intake
. Physiology & Behavior, 92(5), 840-846.

Salvy, S. J., Kieffer, E., & Epstein, L. H. (2008). Effects of social context on overweight and normal-weight children's food
. Eating Behaviors, 9(2), 190-196.

Lesley A. Macpherson
California State University, Sacramento

A Comparison of Response Interruption and Redirection on Vocal and Motor Stereotypy
Stereotypy has been defined as repetitive vocal or motor behaviors that are noncontextual with invariant topographies (LaGrow & Repp, 1984). Stereotypy can be exhibited by both typically and nontypically developing individuals; however, stereotypy exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities has been found to be detrimental in a variety of areas. Consequently, a large body of literature has examined interventions to reduce levels of stereotypic behaviors. For example, both reinforcement and a variety of punishment procedures have been implemented to redirect and block stereotypic behaviors. Specifically, Ahearn, Clark, MacDonald, and Chung (2007) implemented a treatment package consisting of response interruption and redirection (RIRD) and reinforcement for appropriate vocalizations, as a method to successfully reduce vocal stereotypy in children with autism. Moreover, concomitant increases in appropriate vocalizations were also reported. Nevertheless, only two studies have utilized this treatment package as a method for stereotypy reduction. Results of these studies have suggested that the topography of the demands to interrupt and redirect must match the topography of stereotypy to successfully reduce. Therefore, the current investigation will replicate Ahearn et al. and extend his findings to individuals who engage in either vocal or motor stereotypy. Specifically, both vocal and motor RIRD procedures will be compared to determine whether the topography of demands must match the topography of the stereotypic behavior. Likewise, concomitant increases in appropriate behaviors will also be reported. Results from these comparisons will reveal the necessity of providing topographically similar demands as incompatible responses and whether they produce behavioral contrast.


Ahearn, W. H., Clark, K. M., MacDonald, R. P. F., & Chung, B. (2007). Assessing and treating vocal stereotypy in children
with autism
. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40(2), 263-275.

LaGrow, S. J., & Repp, A. C. (1984). Stereotypic responding: A review of intervention research. American Journal of
Mental Deficiency
, 88(6), 595-609.

Marla D. Saltzman
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles

An Evaluation of Multiple Exemplar Training on the Emergence of Reverse Foreign-Language Intraverbals and Listener Responding
The intraverbal is defined as a verbal response under the control of an antecedent verbal stimulus, with no point to point correspondence with that stimulus (Skinner, 1957/2002) In many intraverbal relations, the stimulus and response may be reversed, resulting in two relations; an original intraverbal (e.g., responding, "mesa," given the verbal stimulus, "table") and a reversal (e.g., responding, "table," given the verbal stimulus, "mesa"). Though some educators may expect to see emergence of reverse intraverbals following original intraverbal training, results of the few studies in this area suggest that a history of multiple exemplar training (MET) with both original and reverse intraverbals may be required for the emergence of such relations. The purpose of the present investigation is to examine the effects of two types of foreign-language intraverbal training on the emergence reverse intraverbals and foreign-language listener responding. Participants will be six typically developing, English-speaking preschool aged children with little history with the French language. In the original intraverbal training condition, children will be taught to emit French names of objects given their spoken English names. In the multiple exemplar training condition, children will be taught both English-French and corresponding French-English intraverbal relations. A multiple baseline design across participants will be used to examine the effects of original and multiple exemplar intraverbal training on the emergence of reverse (French-English) intraverbals and French listener responding. It is hoped that the findings and implications of this investigation will be of use, not only to those concerned with second language instruction, but to general and special educators of students of all ages concerned with establishing bidirectional intraverbal relations.


Skinner, B. F. (2002). Verbal behavior. Cambridge, MA: B. F. Skinner Foundation. (Original work published 1957)

Jared Coon
California State University, Sacramento

The Role of Increased Exposure to and Reinforcement History with Transfer of Stimulus Control Procedures to Teach Intraverbal Behavior
The intraverbal was described by Skinner (1957/2002) as an elementary verbal operant controlled by verbal discriminative stimuli and has no point-to-point correspondence with the preceding verbal stimulus. Methods used to directly train intraverbal behavior have used tact, echoic, and textual prompts to successfully transfer control to the desired antecedent verbal stimulus. However, only a few studies have compared the effectiveness of differing stimulus prompts to teach intraverbal responses. The results of these studies have been mixed suggesting the possibility that previous exposure to specific prompt types may play a role in determining which prompt type will be most effective in facilitating transfer of control to teach intraverbal responses. The current research will investigate the effects of controlled overexposure and longer reinforcement history associated with an initially less effective prompt type (i.e. tact vs. echoic) using a single-subject multielement design. Results from an initial comparison of tact and echoic prompts to teach two sets of intraverbal responses will reveal which prompting method is more efficient. In a second phase, the prompt type shown to be less expeditious will then be used to train additional sets of intraverbal responses. Finally, both prompt methods will again be utilized to teach novel sets of intraverbal responses and number of trails to criterion measured. Results of this final training session will reveal whether the overtraining condition would alter the efficacy of each prompting procedure method to teach intraverbal responses.


Skinner, B. F. (2002). Verbal behavior. Cambridge, MA: B. F. Skinner Foundation. (Original work published 1957)