The CBA Learning Module Series, Instructional Design, and Future Directions

By Eversole, Stephen | The Behavior Analyst Today, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

The CBA Learning Module Series, Instructional Design, and Future Directions


Eversole, Stephen, The Behavior Analyst Today


Skinner (1958) described some of the early teaching machines and the behavioral technology underlying their operation. However, it wasn't until the late 1990s that the teaching machine finally came of age with the aid of modern computers and software. In this article, I discuss one model of computer-based training that has been used to teach behavior analysis. Features of the model relevant to a behavior analytic approach to instructional design are highlighted. I talk about how the model addresses fluency, reinforcement, and strategies for teaching conditional discriminations and concepts. Other applications of the model (e.g., exam preparation for certification in other disciplines, skills needed by factory workers, elementary and high school curricula, paraprofessional skills) are entertained and research questions are posed.

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In the past few years, the fluency-based computer program CBA Learning Module Series (Eversole, 1998) has been used by approximately 600 people to prepare for the certification exam in behavior analysis. The purpose of this discussion is to describe the basic instructional design model used for the CBA Learning Module Series, other instructional applications of the model, and future research directions. First, let's discuss the

CBA Learning Module Series.

The CBA Learning Module Series The model used in the CBA Learning Model Series is based on one taught by Guy Bruce and John Eshleman in a workshop on instructional design I attended at the Association for Behavior Analysis conference (Bruce & Eshleman, 1996a). In that workshop (and the more recent book Instructional Design Made Easy [Bruce, 1999]), the focus is on an efficient leaming program that provides instructions, practice, and consequences that reduce the leaming time required to achieve competent performance. In particular, design features included development of goals and valid performance objectives, presentation of instructions during practice and only when needed, strategies to ensure appropriate stimulus control, consequences that reduce leaming time (e.g., immediate praise or corrective feedback), evaluation of leaming efficiency, and revision of content as needed. Behavior analysts are well versed on the advantages of most of these elements. Therefore, I will provide a basic description and focus only on a few features that may be counter-intuitive and as they have been applied to the development of the CBA Learning Module Series.

In the Series, aside from a few screens explaining how to use the program, the user is first presented with a question or stem, and four options. If the user is not sure of the answer, s/he may click on a hint button. The hint directly or indirectly provides the correct answer. Also, a text book reference is provided for individuals desiring additional material. A second button click causes the hint to disappear. If a correct option is then clicked, a brief praise statement is provided. If an incorrect selection is made, a corrective feedback statement is given. Each 5-minute timed module includes approximately 20 such frames. After 5 minutes, the user cannot answer any more questions and the number and percent correct is presented. Users are advised to practice the modules until they get 100% correct within the time allotted, and then to do occasional review sessions. I do not know of anyone who has completed any of the modules with 100% correct on the first practice. To achieve this criterion, and thus foster maintenance (Binder, 1993), learners have to be fluent responders to most questions--they have to answer quickly and accurately.

There are some counter-intuitive features of the CBA Learning Module Series. Note that the Series begins with a question or stem, thus by-passing instructional material that may not be needed by the learner. This is done so that the learner doesn't have to spend time on material s/he already knows--s/be simply answers the question and then moves on to the next question. …

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