Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Precision Teaching: The Standard Celeration Charts

Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Precision Teaching: The Standard Celeration Charts

Article excerpt

Combining Pavlov's (1960/1927) use of frequency as a standard unit in the measurement of scientific phenomena and Skinner's (1938) use of frequency, free operant behavior, and the cumulative recorder with his knowledge of engineering and interest in navigation, Lindsley brought to psychology and education the most powerful and scientific use of measurement applied to human behavior. In 1965, he developed what was first called the Standard Behavior Chart, now more accurately described as a family of Standard Celeration Charts-standard measurement charts for human behavior in daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly time periods. This paper provides an overview of these four types of Standard Celeration Charts.

Key words: Precision Teaching, Standard Celeration Charts, frequency, continuous measure, behavior therapy


Since 1967, educators and others have used the Standard Behavior Chart (now called the Standard Celeration Chart) to observe human behavior and improve learning. The people behaving have ranged from fetuses to those in their 80s (Calkin, 1983; Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Edwards & Edwards, 1970). Some behaviors counted have included all day counts of fetal movement (Calkin, 1983), positive and negative feelings about self (Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Kostewicz, Kubina, & Cooper, 2000; Kubina, Haertel, & Cooper, 1994), as well as the more usual 1-minute timings of academic behaviors such as Hear Say question then answer (Zambolin, Fabrizio, & Isley, 2004), See Write math facts (Stromberg & Chappell, 1990), Think Say and Think Write American government facts (using 1-minute, 2-minute, and 5-minute timings) (Ellis, 1980), Write words (Albrecht, 1981), and See Say parts of a microscope or skeleton (Miller & Calkin 1980).


Because of the design of the Standard Celeration Charts-the standard is the 34 degree angle of the doubling line from corner to opposite corner-all accelerations and decelerations are standard on all charts. Behavior Research Company publishes the series of Standard Celeration Charts for minutes, days, weeks, months, and years. Lindsley trade marked the term "Standard Change Chart" to describe general applications of the chart series.

Using the Standard Celeration Chart makes two critical elements apparent. First, behavior grows by multiplying, not by adding. If Janel wants to improve her learning, she knows that to grow from one to two is to double and is identical to growing from 50 to 100, not from 50 to 51. When she wants to learn something new or change a behavior or feeling, she wants change by doubling, not by adding or deleting one at a time. If Abigail says 35 Russian conversation words in one minute (to which no Russian will listen for long!) and grows by adding one a day, it will take 215 days, or 31 weeks, to reach fluent speech. If she learns by doubling each week, she can get from 35 words per minute to 250 in 50 days, or seven weeks. If Gemma is a slow reader and reads 62 words a minute at grade level and wants to read 200 words per minute, does her teacher want her to grow by adding or multiplying? If Alan has 100 suicide thoughts a day, does he want to reduce them by one or two per day or by 5.0 per week?

Secondly, the chart makes us look at not only the frequency of a person's performance, but also at the growth of learning across time, (i.e., the celeration). Within the first five years of using the chart, several of its powerful elements became increasingly apparent. Frequency is performance: It tells what happened during one time period, but by itself it tells little about learning. To see whether performance accelerates or decelerates, we need to measure it across time. Since 1971, we have called this change in learning celeration. (1) Acceleration indicates an increase in the growth of change of the frequency, in the learning of the behavior. Deceleration indicates a decrease in the learning of the behavior. …

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