Blogging from the ABAI convention in Seattle

I’m in Seattle this weekend for the 38th annual convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. This is my second year to attend the ABAI convention. I’ve been here since Thursday and I’m having a great time so far!

The convention is five days full of fun. I get to connect with lots of other people from all over the country and all over the world who work with both people and animals and who are interested in behavior, training, and teaching. At any given hour, there are over a dozen talks to choose from, so I’m going to have lots to think about and write about after this weekend. The lectures range from theoretical (the science behind conditioned reinforcers), to applied (best teaching practices for children with autism), to just plain fun (investigations of learning in rattlesnakes).

I’ve been to lots of interesting talks so far and I will post notes from several of my favorites when I return to Texas. Yesterday afternoon, I got to hear Irene Pepperberg speak. You might be familiar with Pepperberg from her work with Alex the African grey parrot. She gave a very interesting lecture about several studies she did with Alex to explore his mathematical abilities, research that was related to numbers, counting, addition, and even the concept of zero. I’ve also been to talks so far about the philosphy of a behavior analyst named Isreal Goldiamond, behavior research to promote safe practices in factories and other businesses, and a theoretical talk about different ways to quantify small units of behavior.

It’s hard to pick which talks to go to, because there are so many interesting ones! This afternoon, one of the talks I’ll be going to is a history talk about some of the pioneering research with chimps in space and tomorrow I’m heading to a lecture called “questioning conditioned reinforcement,” which will be given by Kathy Sdao, Susan Friedman, and Jennifer Sobie.

I also helped on Friday with a 6 hour workshop to teach people strategies and tactics to improve their shaping skills. This was a ton of fun and I learned a lot by helping design and run the workshop. All of our participants also seemed to have a great time, so it was definitely a successful workshop. The workshop deserves a blog post of it’s own, so I’ll write more about it later.

Must stop writing now, it’s time to head to the next talk!

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