kitchen table math, the sequel: standard celeration charts

Friday, June 11, 2010

standard celeration charts

I'm thinking it's time I finally figured out Celeration Charts.

Combining Pavlov’s (1960/1927) use of frequency as a standard unit in the measurement of scientific phenomena and Skinner’s (1938) use of frequency, free operant behavior, and the cumulative recorder with his knowledge of engineering and interest in navigation, Lindsley brought to psychology and education the most powerful and scientific use of measurement applied to human behavior. In 1965, he developed what was first called the Standard Behavior Chart, now more accurately described as a family of Standard Celeration Chart —standard measurement charts for human behavior in daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly time periods. This paper provides an overview of these four types of Standard Celeration Charts.

Since 1967, educators and others have used the Standard Behavior Chart (now called the Standard Celeration Chart) to observe human behavior and improve learning. The people behaving have ranged from fetuses to those in their 80s (Calkin, 1983; Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Edwards & Edwards, 1970). Some behaviors counted have included all day counts of fetal movement (Calkin, 1983), positive and negative feelings about self (Cobane & Keenan, 2002; Kostewicz, Kubina, & Cooper, 2000; Kubina, Haertel, & Cooper, 1994), as well as the more usual 1-minute timings of academic behaviors such as Hear Say question then answer (Zambolin, Fabrizio, & Isley, 2004), See Write math facts (Stromberg & Chappell, 1990), Think Say and Think Write American government facts (using 1-minute, 2-minute, and 5-minute timings) (Ellis, 1980), Write words (Albrecht, 1981), and See Say parts of a microscope or skeleton (Miller & Calkin 1980).


Using the Standard Celeration Chart makes two critical elements apparent. First, behavior grows by multiplying, not by adding. If Janel wants to improve her learning, she knows that to grow from one to two is to double and is identical to growing from 50 to 100, not from 50 to 51. When she wants to learn something new or change a behavior or feeling, she wants change by doubling, not by adding or deleting one at a time. If Abigail says 35 Russian conversation words in one minute (to which no Russian will listen for long!) and grows by adding one a day, it will take 215 days, or 31 weeks, to reach fluent speech. If she learns by doubling each week, she can get from 35 words per minute to 250 in 50 days, or seven weeks. If Gemma is a slow reader and reads 62 words a minute at grade level and wants to read 200 words per minute, does her teacher want her to grow by adding or multiplying? If Alan has 100 suicide thoughts a day, does he want to reduce them by one or two per day or by ÷5.0 per week?

Secondly, the chart makes us look at not only the frequency of a person’s performance, but also at the growth of learning across time, (i.e., the celeration). Within the first five years of using the chart, several of its powerful elements became increasingly apparent. Frequency is performance: It tells what happened during one time period, but by itself it tells little about learning. To see whether performance accelerates or decelerates, we need to measure it across time. Since 1971, we have called this change in learning celeration.1 Acceleration indicates an increase in the growth of change of the frequency, in the learning of the behavior. Deceleration indicates a decrease in the learning of the behavior.

Frequency is the count per minute: the number of times Steve does independent or dependent actions per hour; the number of pieces of science equipment Greg names correctly and incorrectly in one minute; the number of words Chris reads correctly and incorrectly per minute; the number of pleasant and unpleasant self-thoughts Angie has per day. These behaviors show performance. Celeration is the count per minute per week. It shows change in performance, or learning across time. We measure celeration, (i.e., learning) by the week, or, if using larger time measures, changes by the month, year, or decade. Celeration: Steve’s actions per hour, each day, per week; Greg’s pieces of science equipment he points to and says per minute, each day, per week; Chris’s words read per minute, each day, per week; Angie’s thoughts about self per minute all day, each day, per week.


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