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Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, v39 n3 299-321 Fall 2006

Following a pretest, 8 participants who were unfamiliar with algebraic and trigonometric functions received a brief presentation on the rectangular coordinate system. Next, they participated in a computer-interactive matching-to-sample procedure that trained formula-to-formula and formula-to-graph relations. Then, they were exposed to 40 novel formula-to-graph tests and 10 novel graph-to-formula tests. Seven of the 8 participants showed substantial improvement in identifying formula-to-graph relations; however, in the test of novel graph-to-formula relations, participants tended to select equations in their factored form. Next, we manipulated contextual cues in the form of rules regarding mathematical preferences. First, we informed participants that standard forms of equations were preferred over factored forms. In a subsequent test of 10 additional novel graph-to-formula relations, participants shifted their selections to favor equations in their standard form. This reference reversed during 10 more tests when financial reward was made contingent on correct identification of formulas in factored form. Formula preferences and transformation of novel mathematical and stimulus functions are discussed. (Contains 1 table and 9 figures.)

Descriptors: Equations (Mathematics), Cues, Trigonometry, Algebra, Mathematical Formulas, Pretests Posttests, Computer Graphics, Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, Stimuli

Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Available from: Department of Applied Behavioral Science. Kansas University, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045-2133. Tel: 785-841-4425; Fax: 785-841-4425; e-mail: behavior[at]; Web site:

Author: Ninness, Chris; Barnes-Holmes, Dermot; Rumph, Robin; McCuller, Glen; Ford, Angela M.; Payne, Robert; Ninness, Sharon K.; Smith, Ro



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