International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 9 Num. 1 - March 2009


Teaching Generative Reading Via Recombination of Minimal Textual Units: A Legacy of Verbal Behavior to Children in Brazil

Volume 9 Num. 1 - March 2009 - Pages 19-44


Deisy G. de Souza , Julio C. de Rose , Thais C. Faleiros , Renato Bortoloti , Elenice Seixas Hanna , William J. McIlvane


This paper reports results of two studies that sought to teach generative reading skills to
a large group of Brazilian children who were exhibiting protracted failure in school.
Inspired by Skinner?s analysis of verbal relations and minimal verbal units, the methodology
took advantage of certain characteristics of Portuguese. Many words in this language are
comprised of two-letter syllabic units (e.g., BO+LA= ball, CA+BO= handle, LA+TA=
can) that can be recombined to form new words (e.g., BOCA= mouth, BOTA= boot), thus
establishing a route to generative reading via recombinative generalization. Such syllabic
units were incorporated within curricular framework that used matching-to-sample and
learning by exclusion methods to teach matching relations involving pictures, printed and
spoken words, and printed and spoken syllables. Study 1 was conducted within a universitybased
learning center that maintained certain aspects of laboratory conditions. It showed
that teaching textual relations between dictated and printed syllables could control
procedurally the inter- and intra-participant variability observed in past studies that lacked
this feature -resulting in virtually universally positive teaching outcomes. Study 2 was
conducted in a public school programs that applied the same basic training methodology.
Positive training outcomes in an experimental group were approximately 3-5 times greater
than that in a placebo control group. Together, these studies illustrate that the functional
analysis in Verbal Behavior is having a direct impact in educational science in Brazil. It
has led to procedures that can be effectively translated from the laboratory to the community
via delivery systems that can be implemented in the developing world.

Key words:

Functional verbal relations, textual units, matching-to-sample, recombinative generalization, reading prerequisites, developmental disabilities

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