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Skinner Foundation Research Award

The 2011 B. F. Skinner Foundation Research Award for Graduate Student Research in California

Application Deadline: Dec. 1, 2010

The B. F. Skinner Foundation sponsors this award for graduate student research. Two awards of $500 each are available. 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, 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, 313-328.

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

Past Recipients - Congratulations!    (top)

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)