Examining the Difference Between Skill Deficits and Performance Deficits When Assessing Children’s Ability to Recall Events in the Past

By J. Stephanie Gonzalez, 2022 awardee of a Sidney W. & Janet R. Bijou Grant

J. Stephanie Gonzalez is a doctoral student at the University of Florida studying under the mentorship of Dr. Timothy Vollmer. Before starting her doctoral program, she received her MA in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Clinical Science at Rollins College and her BS at the University of Central Florida. She has been practicing behavior analysis for 10 years. Her research interests primarily focus on complex verbal behavior, teaching recall skills, and methods for assessing social validity of behavior analytic services. The Bijou Grant will support her dissertation examining the difference between skill deficits and performance deficits when assessing children’s ability to recall events in the past.

The ability to accurately respond to someone’s question about an event in the past has been demonstrated to develop around the age of 3 or 4 in typically developing children. Stephanie’s primary interest relates to skill repertoires differences between children who can and can’t reliably and accurately respond to these questions regardless of age. Prior literature has demonstrated some effective methods for teaching children to respond to these questions. She hopes to expand this literature in a myriad of ways. The primary focus of her research will be to teach children to reliably respond to a question about events in the past using novel strategies from those currently described in the literature. She also wants to conduct detailed assessments of all participants intraverbal, tact, social, and other related skill repertoires. She plans to conduct comparisons between these skill repertoires that might provide new insight into why some children are successful with these tasks while others are not. Furthermore, she plans to analyze secondary measures of recall responses like latency to respond. Finally, she plans on generalizing effective methods for teaching recall skills to more socially significant goals based on caregiver and child input. Teaching recall skills, as opposed to testing recall skills, is a relatively novel area of research in behavior analysis and the Bijou grant will help support the program of study that Stephanie hopes to pursue throughout her career.

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