Verbal Behavior SIG

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

By April Kisamore and Danielle LaFrance

The Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group (VB SIG) had another great year. We continued to fulfill the mission of advancing the theory, research, and practice of Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior by presenting awards to support the exemplary work of students and professionals, advancing the work of our student group, publishing two newsletters, disseminating information online, and more.

We applaud the students who received plaques and cash awards at our business meeting at the 2020 ABAI Annual Convention. There were three winners of the 2020 VB SIG Student Grant: first place wen to Fernanda Oda, University of Kansas; second place to Sandhya Rajagopal, Florida Institute of Technology; and third place to Shannon Luoma, California State University, Sacramento. We would like to thank the reviewers of this competition: Terry Falcomata, Megan Miller, Kerry Ann Conde, Cassy Gayman, and Garet Edwards. In addition, there were three winners of the 2020 VB SIG Student Research Competition: Aparna Naresh, Teachers College, Columbia University; Fernanda Oda, University of Houston-Clear Lake; Danielle LaFrance, Endicott College. We thank the judges: Kent Johnson and Sarah Connolly.

The VB SIG presented three professional awards and the rotating Jack Michael Award in 2020. The Clinical Supervisor in Verbal Behavior Award was given to Dr. Caitlin Delfs, Village Autism Center. The VB SIG Excellence in Teaching Verbal Behavior Award was presented to Dr. Jason Bourret, The New England Center for Children. We thank the judges: Jim Carr, Emily Sweeney-Kerwin, Caio Miguel, Amber Valentino, and Cynthia Pietras. The VB SIG presented the 2020 Jack Michael Award for the enduring contributions of an advanced scholar in the analysis of verbal behavior to Dr. Caio Miguel. We thank the judges: Janet Twyman, Hank Schlinger, and Vince Carbone.

The VB SIG continued to support our student group this past year. The group was composed of eight graduate students from around the country. The group held video conference meetings to discuss articles and their own research; they included expert researchers in verbal behavior in those video conferences, and they are organizing a panel on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and they are taking part in identifying a VB SIG logo. Landon Cowen, Marquette University, served as the leader of the student group this year. Landon functions as the student liaison to the VB SIG Council and attends monthly VB SIG Council meetings. Additionally, one council member attends the monthly student group member meeting. The other 2020-2021 student group members include Maria Clara Cordeiro, Marquette University; Amanda Groos, Florida Institute of Technology; Amanda King, University of Houston-Clear Lake; Kimberly Marshall, Endicott College; Haven Niland, University of North Texas; Sandhya Rajagopal, Florida Institute of Technology; Mary-Genevieve White, Columbia University; and Astrid Zhang, Columbia University.

The VB SIG published two full issues of VB News, our newsletter. Features of these issues included a lab highlight with Amarie Carnett, University of Texas at San Antonio and a segment titled, “Words from the field during a pandemic”. We are excited about the quality of our newsletter and the positive feedback from readers.

The VB SIG maintained a strong presence on the web and social media this year in an effort to continue dissemination of verbal behavior. The SIG Facebook page has 2.6k likes and 2.9k followers, and the SIG Facebook group has 3.2k members. We continued to post important information and opportunities such as the student and professional awards, and events such as ABAI presentations on the Facebook page and the website. In the coming year, we plan to continue using social media platforms to contact VB SIG supporters.

The VB SIG membership remained strong this year. We plan to continue offering research and practice awards, publishing high-quality newsletters, offering a forum for graduate students to discuss verbal behavior, and showcasing verbal behavior opportunities and events on the web in an effort to maintain and increase our membership. From the 2020 ABAI convention through March 1, 2020, we maintained membership at 73 members, which shows tremendous dedication to the study of verbal behavior and support of the VB SIG. Our members enjoy eight benefits: (1) receiving the VB News twice per year and having access (members only) to past issues on the website; (2) receiving emails about SIG-related events and opportunities; (3) joining the VB listserv to engage in discussions about verbal behavior; (4) becoming eligible to submit to the three VB SIG awards; (5) becoming eligible to be elected to positions on the VB SIG Council; (6) becoming involved in the VB SIG student group; (7) gaining professional development; accessing our mini conferences and webinars at a discounted rate; and (8) joining an active community of people passionate about verbal behavior. We are grateful to the 73 members who joined and supported the VB SIG this year.

At the 2019 VB SIG business meeting, we announced a new VB SIG officer position titled Dissemination Coordinator. We received several nominations for this position and held an election to fill it in 2020. We announced Andresa DeSouza as our newest board member. Andresa’s focus will be to increase the VB SIG efforts toward dissemination of VB. To that end, the VB SIG will host three mini conferences throughout 2021. Speakers for these mini conferences have been identified from the list of prior Jack Michael Award winners. Dave Palmer is scheduled for June, Mark Sundberg is scheduled for August, and one other prior Jack Michael Award winner will speak in October. The style of these mini conferences is unique in that each presenter will speak for about 50 min and then a member of our student group will spend approximately 20 min interviewing the speaker after which we will open the discussion to attendees for a 15 min question and answer period.

In the coming year, we plan to expand our reach and increase membership via branding with a new VB SIG logo and enhancing our marketing with a newly designed website; hold three mini conferences to increase excitement about applied and experimental work in verbal behavior; focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and modify existing processes to ensure effective and efficient transfer of responsibilities following elections.

The work of disseminating and promoting verbal behavior would not be possible without the diligent efforts of the VB SIG Council. There were a number of new VB SIG board members elected this year. Danielle LaFrance, Ph.D., BCBA-D, H.O.P.E. Consulting, LLC; Kathryn Glodowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Penn State Harrisburg; treasurer; Lauren K. Schnell, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Hunter College, Student Research Competition coordinator; Mirela Cengher, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Membership coordinator; Andresa DeSouza, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Dissemination coordinator; Landon Cowen, doctoral student, Marquette University, Student Group liaison; and Tiffany Kodak, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Marquette University, editor, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. We would like to welcome all new VB SIG board members!

Other VB SIG board members include April Kisamore, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Hunter College, past-chair; Bethany Hansen, Ph.D., BCBA, University of Nebraska Medical Center, secretary; Caitlin Delfs, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Village Autism Center, Student Grant Competition coordinator; Brittany Juban, Ph.D., BCBA-D, May Institute; Amanda Laprime, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Rochester Medical School, newsletter editor; and Tom Cariveau, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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