Learning and behavioral assessment
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Learning and Behavioral Assessment. William P. Wattles, Ph.D. Francis Marion University. Use quotes sparingly. Interferes with the flow of the report. Undermines professional tone.

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Learning and Behavioral Assessment

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Learning and Behavioral Assessment

William P. Wattles, Ph.D.

Francis Marion University

Use quotes sparingly

  • Interferes with the flow of the report.

  • Undermines professional tone

  • Ms. Thomas reflected back on the course of the last year having explained that she recalls her husband and sister always having a “close relationship but having never felt uncomfortable with it,” and never having felt as though it was an “intimate relationship.”

  • Her husband has been her sole source of emotional and physical support; she explained “he was my whole life until he ruined it by being with that whore.”

Improving reports

  • Consider all aspects of the person

    • Strengths

    • Social life

What is learning?

  • How organisms come to behave in new ways.

    • motivation

    • knowledge

    • change in behavior


  • The study of observable behavior with an emphasis on the role of environment in determining behavior in terms of operant and classical conditioning.


  • a property of the environment that you can detect with your senses.

Response (Behavior)

  • Something you do.

  • What is this couple not doing?

  • Are they not reading?

  • Or are they not sleeping?

  • Not doing something is not a behavior.


  • Something you do. Also called behavior

  • Response = Behavior

  • Behavior can be

    • elicited

    • emitted

Elicited Behavior

  • A behavior such as a reflex that results from the presentation of a stimulus and is not voluntary.

  • Example: Patellar reflex

Emitted Behavior

  • A voluntary behavior. The organism may or may not make this response.

Classical Conditioning

  • Pavlov’s Dog

    • Meat powder

    • Salivation

    • Metronome

    • Salivation



conditioned stimulus



conditioned stimulus





Unconditioned stimulus

unconditioned response


meat powder

Classical Conditioning

  • The dog learns to associate meat powder with the metronome.

  • The dog learns pairing

  • the dog learns what goes with what.

Operant Conditioning

  • Thorndike’s cat

    • cage

    • food

    • pulling the rope

    • getting the food


  • a stimulus that tells or reminds the organism about a relationship between a behavior and another stimulus

  • called the discriminative stimulus


  • Behavior or response. Something the organism can do.


  • A stimulus or property of the environment that is presented contingent on the behavior.





  • The consequence is contingent on the behavior. No behavior no consequence.


  • The consequence is contingent on the behavior. No behavior no consequence.

Operant Conditioning

  • The cat learns the consequences of its actions.

  • The cat learns what to do to get what you want.

Operant conditioning

Positive reinforcement

  • Antecedent

  • Response

  • Consequence

  • What happens to the behavior?

Response Cost

  • Antecedent

  • Response

  • Consequence

  • What happens to the behavior?

Negative reinforcement

  • Antecedent

  • Response

  • Consequence

  • What happens to the behavior?


  • Antecedent

  • Response

  • Consequence

  • What happens to the behavior?

Three requirements for reinforcement

  • The behavior must increase

  • The consequence must be contingent on the behavior

  • The contingency must cause the increase in behavior.


When reinforcers are no longer provided, the behavior stops

Extinction Burst

When you begin to stop delivering a

reinforcer, the behavior first increases

before it decreases to zero.

Partial Reinforcement Schedules

Intermittent reinforcement schedules take

longer to extinguish.

Continuous Reinforcement (CRF)

  • is the first and most basic of the Schedules. Under this schedule, every time the target behavior occurs, it is reinforced. The ratio of reinforcement to behavior is then 1:1.

Fixed Schedules of reinforcement

  • are an extension of the CRF concept. Instead of one reinforcement for each behavior, a predetermined number of behaviors are required to earn reinforcer.

  • A Fixed Ratio of 3:1 then would mean that the individual would have to demonstrate the target behavior 3 times in order to receive a reinforcement.

Variable Schedules of reinforcement

  • are the ultimate goal of any intervention. A Variable Ratio Schedule of 3:1 means that on the average the person is reinforced for every 3 demonstrations of the target behavior.

Ratio Strain.

  • This happens when the Schedule of Reinforcement is set too high and the individual "gives up" before the next reinforcement becomes available.

stimulus generalization

  • Reinforcements will generalize across similar stimuli producing secondary conditioning

What Is Behavior Analysis?

  • Direct measurement of behavior through systematic observation and recording systems..

  • Functional analysis of the causes of behavior: find factors that prompt and maintain the behavior of interest.

  • An emphasis on using positive reinforcement to build and maintain desirable behavior.

Functional Analysis

  • Antecedent

  • Behavior clearly specified and measurable

  • Consequences (maintaining variable)

Problem Behavior

Concrete Definition

Trish is aggressive.

Trish hits other students during recess when she does not get her way.

Carlos is disruptive.

Carlos makes irrelevant and inappropriate comments during class discussion.

Jan is hyperactive.

Jan leaves her assigned area without permission.

Jan completes only small portions of her independent work.

Jan blurts out answers without raising her hand.

Functional Analysis

  • In the field of applied behavior analysis. This is the process of determining the cause (or "function") of behavior before developing an intervention.

Methods to determine function

  • interviews and rating scales,

  • direct and systematic observation of the person's behavior, and

  • manipulating different environmental events to see how behavior changes.

Types of behavior

  • a) behavior that produces attention and other desired events (e.g., access to toys, desired activities), (b) behavior that allows the person to avoid or escape demands or other undesired events/activities, and (c) behavior that occurs because of its sensory consequences (relieves pain, feels good, etc.).

Competing Response

  • Differential Reinforcement of Other

    • Reinforce a competing response to decrease a behavior.

Response prevention

  • Escape or avoidance conditioning.

Catch ‘em being good.

  • Benefits of reinforcement over punishment.

  • Energy

  • Self-image

  • Feelings toward teacher

  • Mood

  • Potential for abuse

The End

The End

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