Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

By 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 2022 ABAI Annual Convention. There were three winners of the 2020 VB SIG Student Grant – First Place: Kristin Albert, Florida Institute of Technology; Second Place: Videsha Marya, Endicott College; Third Place: Zoe Sideras, Hunter College. We would like to thank the reviewers of this competition: Jason Vladescu, Daniel Conine, and Mirela Cengher. In addition, there were three winners of the 2022 VB SIG Student Research Competition: Evan Schleifer- Katz, University of North Texas; Lewis Bizo, University of Technology Sydney Australia and the Lojic Institute, Australia; Adrienne Jennings, Caldwell College. We thank the judges: Kent Johnson, Lesley Shawler, and Karina Zhelezoglo.

The VB SIG presented two professional awards. The Clinical Supervisor in Verbal Behavior Award was given to Dr. Nicole Rodriguez, University of Nebraska Medical Center. The VB SIG Excellence in Teaching Verbal Behavior Award was presented to Dr. Judah Axe, Simmons College. We thank the judges: Mark Sundberg, Tina Sidener, Tracy Lepper, Lesley Shawler, and Jason Bourret. The VB SIG also 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 six 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. Additionally, the student group is working in lockstep with the VB SIG Council Members to provide feedback, support, and disseminate new initiatives. Examples include assisting the Membership Coordinator with recruitment of authors publishing work in verbal behavior as new members,

nterviewing invited speakers as part of an online series of talk hosted by the SIG, and providing valuable input as council members worked to revise award scoring rubrics. Landon Cowen, Marquette University, served as the leader of the student group again this past 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 2021-2022 student group members include Maria Clara Cordeiro, Marquette University; Amanda Groos, Florida Institute of Technology; Mary-Genevieve White, Teacher’s College, Columbia University; Zhang Astrid Wenhui, Teacher’s College, Columbia University; and Tianjio Li, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The VB SIG published two full issues of VB News, our newsletter. Features of these issues included memorials dedicated to Dr. Jack Michael and highlights of our student group members. Additionally, the SIG’s new Newsletter Editor is working on updating the look of our newsletter to support efforts in enhancing the experiences of our members. 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 3.201k likes and 3.546k followers, and the SIG Facebook group has 4.1k 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 and increased in numbers 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 2021 ABAI convention through March 1, 2022, we maintained membership at 141 members, which shows tremendous dedication to the study of verbal behavior and support of the VB SIG. In 2022, we have also gained two more new members. 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. Additionally, the SIG’s council members are in the process of developing a new benefit for student members, which we hope to unveil at the upcoming annual business meeting, scheduled during the ABAI conference in May 2022. We are grateful to the 143 members who joined and supported the VB SIG this year.

In 2020, Dr. Andresa DeSouza joined the council, filing our newest position as Dissemination Coordinator. Andresa’s focus has been to increase the VB SIG efforts toward dissemination of VB. To this end, the VB SIG hosted a series of online talks in 2021. Speakers for these events included the following prior Jack Michael Award winners: Dave Palmer (who presented in June), Mark Sundberg (who presented in August), Vincent Carbone (who presented in October), and Hank Schlinger (who presented in December). The style of these talks is unique in that each presenter speaks for about 50 min and then a member of our student group spends approximately 20 min interviewing the speaker after which we open the discussion to attendees for a 15 min question and answer period. We received positive feedback following each event, and the SIG is currently in the process of identifying another 4 speakers for a new series to be hosted in 2022.

Over the past year, we marketed a new website design and in the coming year, we plan to expand our reach and increase membership via branding with a new VB SIG logo. Additionally, we will host a new online series to continue 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, which include the following: Stephanie Keesey-Phelan, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, Simmons University (Grant Competition Coordinator); Angelica Aguirre, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Minnesota State University (Newsletter Editor); Lesley Shawler, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Southern Illinois University (Professional Awards Coordinator); Robbie Hanson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Lindenwood University (Secretary); and Videsha Marya, Ph.D., Endicott College (Website Coordinator). Additionally, Danielle LaFrance, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Elemy took the position of Chair, following completion of her first year as Chair Elect in 2020. The SIG also continues to maintain a close working relationship with Tiffany Kodak, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Marquette University, as the Editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. We would like to welcome all new VB SIG board members! Other VB SIG board members include Kathryn Glodowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Treasurer); Lauren Schnell, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Research Competition Coordinator); Mirela Cengher, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Membership Coordinator); Andresa DeSouza, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Dissemination Coordinator); and Landon Cowan, Ph.D. student (Student Group Liaison).