Prof. John Cooper
The opportunity to write the introduction to "Applied Behavior Analysis – Principles and Procedures" for Dr. Eitan Eldar has given me honor and pleasure. It has evoked fond memories of Eitan's graduate student days at The Ohio State University where I served as one of his professors. His student accomplishments impressed me greatly. I still remember the day Eitan told me two of his professional goals. First, he wanted to have a professorship in which he could teach applied behavior analysis and its applications to teachers and clinicians in Israel. Second, he planned to write a textbook on applied behavior analysis, in Hebrew. He believed, rightly in my view, that the people of Israel should learn applied behavior analysis and its applications in Hebrew. I celebrate Eitan's accomplishments of his professional goals.
In truth, "Applied Behavior Analysis – Principles and Procedures" does not necessarily require an introduction. The content presented in the text will stand alone, with or without my introduction. I decided, therefore, to share some of my thoughts concerning the content you, the reader, will study. My introduction will make only two points. First, I will comment on why I am glad that you will learn the content presented in this text. Second, I will present my beliefs about science and the "big heart" in education and treatment.
I Am Glad You Are Reading This Book
Applied behavior analysis seeks to understand and improve human behavior. All scientific study of human behavior and learning, however, share this same important goal. How does applied behavior analysis differ from other searches for discovered knowledge? The answer lies with the procedures and methods used by a particular science. Applied behavior analysis addresses objectively defined socially significant human behaviors. It searches for reliable relationships between the procedures employed and their behavioral outcomes. Finally, it uses experimental procedures and methods that have more in common with the experimental methods used in the physical sciences than the procedures and methods used by educational and social science researchers (Johnston & Pennypacker, 1993). Behavior analysts use also the attitudes of science as described by Whaley and Surratt, (1968) as an overriding set of assumptions and values to guide their experimental method. These specific assumptions of determinism, empiricism, parsimony, scientific manipulation, and philosophic doubt have served the physical sciences well for many years.
Behavior analysts respect the biological inheritance individuals receive from their parents, grandparents, and so on back throughout their family history. Clearly, this inheritance impacts greatly the development of behavior. I am sure that most readers will have heard the statement, "If you want to be an Olympic athletic, choose your parents well."
An individual's history of interactions with the environment also has a major impact on the development of behavior. Each person's interactions with the environment produce a unique history of behavior-environment relationships, in much the same way a person's ancestors produce a unique biological inheritance. We receive behavioral potential from our biological inheritance. The major part of our behavioral repertoire (e.g., our languages, skills, knowledge, beliefs, and the complexity of that repertoire) develops, however, from individual behavior-environmental interactions (Catania, 1998, Johnson, K., & Layng, 1992).
Behavior analysis has more than 70 years of basic and applied research (see, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1968-2000; Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 1958-2000; Keller & Schoenfeld, 1950; Skinner, 1938). The outcomes of this research has produced broad generality (Johnston, J., 1979) across:
(a) Species (e.g., pigeons, dolphins, rhesus monkeys, humans);
(b) Subjects (e.g., human males and females across the life span, from different cultures, social economic levels, with functioning levels from profound developmental disabilities to gifted);
(c) Responses (e.g., from the very simple to highly complex academic and social skills; including all areas of learning such as dance, sports, music, graphic and mechanical arts); and
(d) Settings (e.g., family homes, school classrooms, business, hospitals, prisons).
The outcomes of the basic and applied research have produced, also, broad generality of (a) variables researched, (b) methods uses, and (c) processes applied.
I believe, globally, technological developments have accelerated the need for individuals to learn and acquire greater knowledge and skills more quickly than ever before. To address the social changes produced by technological developments, formal education must become more thorough and more effective. Applied behavior analysis has produced methodologically rigorous experimental findings, with methods and outcomes that other scientists, teachers, and clinicians can reproduce. The extensive generality of the behavior analytic research, which has produced such remarkable evidence related to the measurable effectiveness of its applications, provide the precise reasons why I am glad you, the reader, will study and learn the content from Eitan's text. I am optimistic that the accelerated use of these principles of behavior will continue to offer exceptional promise for future developments in education and treatment.
Science and the "Big Heart" in Education and Treatment
You will learn the importance of defining behaviors as a movement of the body in time and space as you progress through the text. Behavior analysts consider only the movement of living organisms as behavior. Usually, behavior analysts define behavior with action-object words; for example; press (action) bar (object), write answers (action) to additions facts (object), injure self using a finger to poke (action) eye (object). The use of action-object words produces objective, clear, complete, and concise behavioral definitions. Importantly, pinpointing the specific behaviors of interest allows for direct instruction for those behaviors, and for the direct measurement of learner progress toward the instructional goal. Educators and clinicians should ultimately make program decision based on behavioral performances pinpointed for development.
I hope in your classroom or clinic you will apply precisely the science and the principles of behavior described in this text with a "big heart." Contrary to what I wrote in the above paragraph, the term "big heart" does not pinpoint behaviors for teachers or clinicians to use with their instruction. "Big heart" provides a subjective label to encompass a huge class of related teacher behaviors. Applying subjective labels for behaviors, like using subjective measurements, adds risk to applications. I would not suggest the use of the term "big heart" or other subjective labels as behavior definitions for research on teacher behavior or for teacher education.
"Big heart" does, however, communicate in a very general sense. For several years, I have asked my students to tell me what I mean when I use the term "big heart" to describe teacher behavior. I receive consistently similar responses from the students. Some of the most frequent responses include:
(a) Caring for the student,
(b) Making time available for the client,
(c) Giving respect to the learner,
(d) Appreciating the impact of social poverty on the learner's development,
(e) Not giving up on student progress,
(f) Willingness to try another way,
(g) Emphasizing the positive,
(h) Celebrating the accomplishments of students and clients.
With the "big heart," teachers and clinicians set high goals, help learners achieve those high goals, accentuate the positive, and eliminate or devalue the negative.
Montrose Wolf (1978), in one of the most influential articles published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, "Social Validity: The case for subjective measurement or How applied behavior analysis is finding it's heart," argued for the use subjective measurement to assess social validity of applied behavior analytic research. He defined social validity as consumers' evaluations of (a) the social significance of the goals, (b) the social appropriateness of procedures, and (c) the social importance of the effects. Before publishing his article on social validity, Wolf had a problem of accepting the science plus the "big heart." In his own words:
An example from our own experience in the Achievement Place Research project is that we were told by many communities that one of the most important characteristics of teaching-parents that they wanted was "warmth". When quizzed about "warmth", the community members indicated that they wanted teaching-parents who "know how to relate to youths". For some time, our response to this request was to disagree with them. We argued, "What you really need is someone who knows how to give and take away points at the right time." But the results of our research . . . are tending to support the community's commonsense wisdom about the importance of teaching-parents being able to "relate to youths". (p. 207).
Eitan's text presents research and applications representative of the current mainstream in applied behavior analysis. His book marks a major accomplishment for the international development of applied behavior analysis.
Your understanding of human behavior will advance substantially if you learn well the content of this book. Learning from this text will allow you to develop measurably effective instructional skills; and of most importantly, improve the accomplishments of learners. With this purpose, I am most pleased to welcome you to the science and the applications of behavior analysis.
John O. Cooper
The Ohio State University