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Using stimulus equivalence to efficiently teach statistical concepts in the undergraduate classroom: Efficacy and transportability

, Illinois State University, United States

Illinois State University . Awarded


Programmed instructional modules based on stimulus equivalence were used to teach concepts of inferential statistics and hypothesis decision making to college students. The modules taught a few relations that were carefully selected to promote the emergence of other relations that were not directly taught, thereby creating a favorable ratio of instructional gains to instructional investment. Study 1, conducted in a laboratory setting, determined that the intervention did accomplish its goals at some basic level by employing a limited test battery. Study 2 extended these findings and included a test battery that more thoroughly examined the expected emergent relations. Study 3 was a pilot investigation, in the laboratory, of assessments planned for use in the final study. Study 4, which employed a group-comparison experimental design that approximated a randomized controlled trial, applied the methods that were examined in the first three studies to instruction in a classroom setting. Participants were enrolled in a college course on conducting psychology research and worked under the naturalistic contingencies of the course. Results were similar to those of the laboratory studies; thus, Study 4 provided a preliminary demonstration of the transportability of the intervention. Study 4 also demonstrated that stimulus equivalence instruction took fewer trials and less time to learn concepts than learning all possible relations and that both types of instruction were better than not being exposed to any instruction. Together, the four studies provide a rare demonstration of the utility of instructional technology based on stimulus equivalence in teaching high-level academic skills to highly competent learners. More specifically, the investigation makes a compelling case for the efficacy and transportability of stimulus equivalence technology in promoting—with relatively little instructional investment—the acquisition of concepts related to inferential statistics and hypothesis decision making.


Fienup, D.M. Using stimulus equivalence to efficiently teach statistical concepts in the undergraduate classroom: Efficacy and transportability. Ph.D. thesis, Illinois State University. Retrieved August 3, 2021 from .

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