Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Relational Frame Theory, Mathematical and Logical Skills: A Multiple Exemplar Training Intervention to Enhance Intellectual Performance

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Relational Frame Theory, Mathematical and Logical Skills: A Multiple Exemplar Training Intervention to Enhance Intellectual Performance

Article excerpt

Scientific and technological achievements of nations are to a large extent dependent on mathematical abilities. Mathematical abilities are assumed to be of great importance with respect to societal development (Butterworth, Varma, & Laruillard, 2011) and longitudinal data show that mathematical skills are the strongest predictor for later school achievement (Duncan, Dowsett, Claessens, et al., 2007). The present study aimed to investigate a novel intervention procedure for strengthening such skills.

There is a widespread notion that the components of Baddeley's model of working memory (Hitch & Baddeley, 1976) play an important role in mathematical abilities (DeStefano & LeFevre, 2004). A recent meta-analysis (Melby-Lervåg & Hulme, 2013) showed that even though working memory training tends to show general short-term effects on working memory skills (verbal and visuospatial working memory), the effects do not seem to generalize to other domains, which are believed to be associated with working memory (e.g., mathematical skills). Other researchers have found a significant increase in mathematical reasoning following 6 months of working memory training (Holmes, Gathercole, & Dunning, 2009). However, whether these effects could be attributed solely to working memory training or other contextual factors (e.g., participating in regular curriculum) is not clear.

Strategies based on learning theory and behavior analysis have long been used in educational contexts worldwide and early advances in behavioral science were often applied in these very settings (Kratochwill & Martens, 1994). There are many examples of the successful application of behavior analytic strategies in various school settings, such as behavioral consultation with teachers (Martens & Ardoin, 2002), oral reading interventions (Daly, Garbacz, Olson, Persampieri, & Ni, 2006; Eckert, Ardoin, Daly, & Martens, 2002), school violence and disciplinary problems (Anderson & Kincaid, 2005), classroom management (Meyer, 1999) and homework performance (Miller & Kelley, 1994). Researchers from the behavior analytic position have long claimed that, in order to progress toward more effective methods of teaching various academic skills, a study of the specific behavioral units involved in these skills is needed (Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, & Cullinan, 2001).

From a behavioral perspective, both mathematical skills and traditional cognitive concepts (e.g., thinking, language, problem solving, working memory etc.) involve specific behavioral units. However, it is not until recently that the field of behavior analysis has been able to approach cognitions and language from a strictly functional behavioral perspective, thus enabling the empirical study of the specific observable behavioral units that are involved. This endeavor is based, to a large extent, on a behavior analytic theory of human language and cognition called Relational Frame Theory (RFT, Dymond & Roche, 2013; Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001).

Even though a functional approach to the study of verbal behavior was attempted by Skinner (1957), Skinner's approach to verbal behavior was mainly theoretical, lacking empirical data. Also, Skinner's definition of verbal behavior failed to distinguish human behavior from the behavior of other organisms, therefore the practical utility of the definition has been questioned (Hayes, Blackledge, & Barnes-Holmes, 2001). Early work on stimulus equivalence conducted by Murray Sidman (1971) showed that humans are able to derive relations (e.g., relations not explicitly taught to the subject) between stimuli. Behavior analysts have since then considered derived relational responding to have important implications for human language and it has become a primary feature of post-Skinnerian research on verbal behavior.

RFT, as a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition, has both similar as well as different features compared to Skinner's account (Gross & Fox, 2009). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.