The Research

The Research

Behavioral and learning science serve as the framework for Fit Learning’s uniquely transformative method involving precision teaching, direct instruction, relational frame theory, and curriculum-based assessment.

Included here is a partial list of the Fit founders’ published research that have helped shape Fit into the program it is today, along with presentations and workshops they’ve conducted. In addition, provided here are selected research abstracts from this list.

Aninao, T., Acevedo, D., Newsome, K., and Newsome, D. (2015). Putting the Precision in Precision Teaching: Using the Standard Celeration Chart for Ongoing Assessment. Behavioral Development Bulletin.

Abstract: Making programmatic decisions based on objective performance data is accepted as best practice by behavior analysts. Unfortunately, the data management system used
can limit the rate of data based decisions. When assessment and intervention activities are discrete and consecutive, data-based decisions may be unnecessarily delayed. The Standard Celeration Chart affords immediate visual inspection of data, thereby allowing real-time decision making. When using the Standard Celeration Chart, assessment and intervention occur concurrently. A precise measurement tool gives practitioners the power to make an accurate data-based decision in the moment, rather than waiting for other data management processes to be completed. A Standard Celeration Chart demonstrating the benefit of frequent data based decisions is presented and illustrates how this analytical tool can be used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of treatment.

Aninao, T., Fuller, T., Newsome, K., and Newsome, D. (2015). School, Meds, and Moms: Using the Standard Celeration Chart for a Contextual Analysis of Behavior. Behavioral Development Bulletin.

Abstract: Contextual factors can have a significant impact on treatment outcomes. However, systematic analysis is difficult in the absence of appropriate measurement tools. The Standard Celeration Chart provides a way for evaluating the effects of these variables through its standardization and availability of immediate data analysis and decision making. Standard Celeration Charts are presented demonstrating how the date synchronization feature of the Standard Celeration Chart is used to identify and assess the influence of contextual variables. Specifically, using the Standard Celeration Chart can make contextual analysis possible by illustrating how school enrollment status, medication changes, and inconsistent session attendance can be observed as factors critical to academic task performance.

Bennett, K., Newsome, K. B., and Newsome, D. (2015). Assessing Functional Relations: The Utility of the Standard Celeration Chart. Behavioral Development Bulletin.

Abstract: The discovery of functional relationships among variables is critical to the behavior scientist’s goal of prediction and influence of behavior. Precision teachers’ efforts are bolstered by their ability to illuminate functional relations between tool skills (e.g., letter sound fluency) and composite repertoires (e.g., oral reading fluency) using the Standard Celeration Chart (SCC). Ongoing assessment of composite repertoires in the context of tool skill interventions permits data-based decision making for optimal acquisition rates at the composite level. In this report, data obtained from learners enrolled in our handwriting curriculum illustrate the SCC’s role in identifying and capitalizing on these functional relations.

Brooks Newsome, K., Nix Berens, K., Ghezzi, P. M., Aninao, T., and Newsome, W. D. (2014). Training relational language to improve reading comprehension. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 15 (2), 165-197.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of strengthening participants’ relational abilities on measures of comprehension. We evaluated the effects of two phases of multiple exemplar training on reading comprehension: hierarchical relational training, and hierarchical framing under the contextual cues of “same” and “different.” Five participants with poor reading comprehension, but strong reading abilities, were trained in four components of hierarchical relational training. This phase was designed to increase the frequency and flexibility with which participants related properties to stimuli, and to assess if training in hierarchical relations improved participants’ ability to derive hierarchical relations between stimuli. The next phase of training required participants to discriminate relevant relations under contextual cues of “same” and “different.” The effects of training were examined on measures of reading comprehension and written expression. All but one participant showed improvements on one or more academic measures, indicating a functional relationship between the language skills acquired and comprehension and written expression. These data have important implications for guiding research endeavors in behavior analysis and for informing practices in education. This article goes on to discuss the limitations and directions for future research.

Brosnan, J., Moeyaert, M., Brooks Newsome, K., Healy, O., Heywaert, M., Onghena, P., and Van den Noortgate, W. (2016). Multilevel Analysis of Multiple-baseline Data Evaluating Precision Teaching as an Intervention for Improving Fluency in Foundational Reading Skills for at Risk Readers, Exceptionality, 1-25.

Abstract: In this article, multiple-baseline across participants designs were used to evaluate the impact of a precision teaching (PT) program, within a Tier 2 Response to Intervention framework, targeting fluency in foundational reading skills with at risk kindergarten readers. Thirteen multiple-baseline design experiments that included participation from 35 kindergarten students were included in the current analysis. By combining data from a series of multiple-baseline studies using a multilevel model, we analyzed outcomes to determine an estimated treatment effect. The results indicate that across participants and across studies, PT showed an average increase of 15 correct responses in foundational reading skills per minute. This immediate influence on rates of core reading skills was statistically significant. Moreover, the treatment had a significant positive effect on the time trend indicating that rates in foundational reading skills increased more across time during the treatment phase compared to the baseline phase. The study provides evidence that the obtained rates in foundational reading skills at the end of the intervention were retained after removing the intervention. From the outcomes of the multilevel model, PT can be considered as a promising Tier 2 intervention to increase reading fluency with individuals who are at risk of reading failure.

Gist, C. and Bulla, A.J. (2020). A Systematic Review of Frequency Building and Precision Teaching with School-Aged Children. Journal of Behavior Education.

Abstract: This paper presents a systematic review of the literature that assesses the effectiveness of frequency building and precision teaching with school-aged children. The authors evaluated studies in accordance with the What Works Clearinghouse standards and the council for exceptional children standards for evidence-based practices in special education. A total of 11 studies examining the effectiveness of frequency building and precision teaching for 170 participants were included in this review. Additionally, effect sizes were calculated for eligible studies. Small to large effects were found for all included variables. Overall, results indicated that the combination of frequency building and precision teaching is an effective method for increasing a variety of academic skills with school-aged children. This paper discusses limitations, recommendations for future research, and implications for practitioners.

Meyer, S., Aninao, T., Newsome, K., and Newsome, D. (2015). Discovery Through the Lens of the Standard Celeration Chart: Informing and Facilitating Inductive Intervention Strategies. Behavioral Development Bulletin.

Abstract: Key to the success of Precision Teachers is an understanding that accuracy of performance is necessary, but insufficient for skill mastery. Dimensions of behavior occurring in time, such as rate, latency, or duration, must also be included in determinations of competence. By employing the Standard Celeration Chart, which allows assessment of all the above features of responding, Precision Teachers can detect and address barriers to mastery that go beyond issues of accuracy. Included here are examples of successful behavioral interventions whose discovery is attributed to the use of this sensitive measurement tool. The first intervention presented shows the effects of an error defusion intervention on passage reading. The second intervention demonstrates the impact of a discrimination priming on a picture-naming task. In the before mentioned interventions, the Standard Celeration Chart was paramount in the discovery of key performance variables.

Meyer, S., Newsome, D., Fuller, T., Ghezzi, P., Newsome, K. (2021). Agility: What It Is, How to Measure It, and How to Use It. Behavioral Analysis in Practice, 14, 598–607.

Abstract: A positive and expected by-product of a well-programmed instructional sequence is an escalation of learning, where skills are acquired more quickly as teaching goes on. Despite the importance of this effect in behavior analysis and education, techniques for detecting and analyzing it are rarely observed in practice settings. A behavioral approach to this phenomenon is rooted in the term agility, which has persisted in the precision-teaching community as a description of desirable acquisition patterns. Precision teachers have long carried forward a loose definition of agility as “celerating celerations.” Although this definition might succeed in generally orienting practitioners toward the goal of helping people acquire new skills more quickly, its lack of technical specificity has hindered efforts to fully integrate such analyses into practice. In this article, the authors define agility and distinguish it from other concepts common to education and behavior analysis. Further, a tutorial for quantifying and analyzing agility using frequency, celeration, and bounce multipliers is presented in detail. Finally, the practical implications afforded by analyses of agility are delineated.

Newsome, D., Miller, S.A., Newsome, K., et al. (2023). Charting the Path to Equality in Literacy Instruction: A Precision Teaching Project in a Title-1 School. Behavior and Social Issues.

Abstract: Educational equality is a critical component of social justice. Longstanding disparities in educational achievement and access to effective instruction have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This manuscript replicates and extends analyses of a behaviorally informed model of literacy instruction, Fit Lite®, pioneered by Sawyer et al. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14, 623–630, (2020), which demonstrated significant improvements in reading proficiency among a cohort of marginalized students. The Fit Lite® model is a brief, intensive literacy intervention that incorporates empirically validated techniques, including precision teaching, repeated reinforced practice, and frequent progress monitoring with standardized assessments of oral reading skills. The current study includes a stronger demonstration of experimental control and involved 18 second-grade students in a rural Title-1 elementary school. The current findings verify the replicability of the model, with both iterations producing growth in oral reading skills greater than two percentile ranks per hour of instruction, based on US national normative assessment data. The potential for Fit Lite® and similar intervention packages for addressing educational inequity are discussed.

Newsome, D., Newsome, K.B., and Miller, S.A. (2023). Teaching, Learning, and Climate Change: Anticipated Impacts and Mitigation Strategies for Educators. Behavior and Social Issues, 32, 494–516.

Abstract: The impacts of climate change present numerous risks to the present and future state of teaching and learning. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, heat waves, flooding, blizzards, wildfires, sea level rise, and droughts threaten our ability to produce the learning outcomes promised to our pupils. Taking action to adapt to imminent climate-related challenges and mitigating measures that provoke and prolong ecological challenges is critical to the survival of these cultural institutions. Paradoxically, centers of teaching and learning can be seen as both victims of climate change as well as an instrumental part of the solution. Providing an efficient and effective education to the world’s youth is a catalyst for the innovations that future generations of skilled professionals will use to combat climate change. Educational settings are also crucial venues for raising social awareness about anthropogenic climate change to undermine the complacency and denialism that have stagnated the global response to this crisis thus far. This paper incorporates suggestions from climate scientists and learning scientists about how to change how we teach, where we teach, and what we teach to ensure teaching enterprises survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate.

Newsome, D., Newsome, K., Fuller, T.C., and Meyer, S. (2018). How Contextual Behavioral Scientists Measure and Report About Behavior: A Review of JCBS. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.

Abstract: This paper presents data from a review of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS) with a focus on the ways contextual behavioral scientists measure and report about behavior. The results indicate that a majority of empirical papers in JCBS utilize only one type of measurement: self-report. This finding is considered with respect to the stated scientific aims of the Contextual Behavior Science (CBS) community, and to the merits and risks of a science of self-report. Specifically, we question whether such a heavy reliance on self-report is sufficient to produce a comprehensive, reticulated science capable of “prediction and influence of behavior, with precision scope and depth…. that is more adequate to the challenge of the human condition” (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Wilson, 2012) without increased utilization of behavioral dependent variables. Moreover, we offer that the use of self-report as the primary research paradigm and correspondent disuse of behavioral measures is discordant with the guidance of CBS’s claimed intellectual fore-bearers, Darwin, Skinner, and Sidman. We conclude with suggestions for how CBS researchers can incorporate a greater diversity of measurement tools in their research agendas such that the contents of JCBS align more closely with its stated mission and scientific roots.

Newsome, K., Fuller, T.C., Meyer, S., Berens Nix, K., and Newsome, D. (2021) Behavioral Education. In Maragakis, A., Drossel, C., and Waltz, T. (Eds). Applications of Behavior Analysis in Healthcare and Beyond. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Company.

Abstract: Historical and contemporary data on educational achievement suggest that the United States is still very much a nation-at-risk. Less than half of fourth-grade students read proficiently. Moreover, in response to market demands, few behavior analysts work in educational settings focused on academic skill-building, and few teachers receive coursework in behavioral education. Behavioral science, however, is well-positioned to inform and benefit the practice of teaching. Behavioral education, or the methods of academic skill acquisition informed by the science of behavior, offers a framework for a scientific approach to education that can alter the current trajectory in educational outcomes. In this chapter, the benefits of a behavioral education approach are discussed, illuminating the positive outcomes achieved with students as a result of these practices. Additionally, the cultural and ideological variables influencing the adoption and implementation of behavioral education practices are considered, and solutions for a path forward are offered. The chapter is concluded with a proposed course syllabus to increase exposure to behavioral education content in the training of teachers and behavior analysts.

Pallares, M., Newsome, K.B., and Ghezzi, P.M. (2021). Precision Teaching and Tap Dance Instruction. Behavioral Analysis in Practice, 14, 745–762.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was (a) to use a precision-teaching (PT) framework to design, train, and evaluate a tap-dancing training sequence and (b) to evaluate fluency outcomes as a function of training tap dance components to optimal frequencies. The study trained a series of 8 tap-dancing steps to 4 novice dancers and evaluated the effects on untrained components and probes of retention, stability, endurance, and application. The study also included a control participant who only completed application probes. Weekly probes examining the facilitative effects of training on the untrained components revealed improvements for some untrained steps, but not all. Retention probes revealed little difference in frequencies from the last data point in training. Stability and endurance probes revealed marked increases in the frequency of corrects and decreases in the frequency of errors. The results of application probes showed improvements to some degree for experimental participants; however, the control participant also made gains in performance. This makes it difficult to draw conclusions regarding application. The study demonstrates how a PT framework may be useful to those interested in enhancing sports performance training. We discuss limitations and future directions.

Sawyer, M.R., Newsome, K.B., and Newsome, D. (2021). From Private Practice to Public Service: A Preliminary Investigation of the Fit LiteTM Model With At-Risk Students. Behavioral Analysis in Practice, 14, 623–630.

Abstract: Like many Title 1 schools in the United States, the host site for this study in rural South Carolina represents a widespread literacy crisis in our public education system. In this particular school, only 20% of 3rd graders demonstrated proficient reading skills. Although extremely effective precision teaching–based literacy intervention programs have been developed in the private sector, such as the Fit Learning™ model, the extensive time and related costs of training classroom teachers in those methods prohibit struggling schools on tight budgets. As such, the current study sought to develop and test the feasibility of a truncated version of the Fit Learning™ model, dubbed Fit Lite™. Fourteen students identified by the school as “high risk” for literacy struggles were instructed in the Fit Lite™ model in their after-school program. With expert oversight and only 1 week of training, a group of 4 implementers with no prior experience using precision teaching or implementing Fit Lite™ produced promising reading improvements. Over the course of approximately 12 weeks, the 14 students improved by an average of 16 percentile points against the national average on standardized progress-monitoring tools. Details of the Fit Lite™ model, results achieved in this study, and considerations for future replications are described.

Selected Additional Research

Evans, A.L., Bulla, A.J., and Kieta, A.R. (2021). The Precision Teaching System: A Synthesized Definition, Concept Analysis, and Process. Behavioral Analysis in Practice, 14, 559–576.

Abstract: Precision teaching (PT) has a long history in the fields of behavior analysis and education. As the system of PT has evolved and grown, many developments and discoveries have been made. The current article briefly reviews the history of PT and presents a synthesized definition derived from the unique legacy of the system. The article includes (a) an updated definition of PT, (b) a concept analysis of PT, and (c) a set of synthesized steps that comprise PT. The goal of the current article is to present a succinct summary of the current state of PT for readers from all backgrounds, with examples that encompass the entirety of the applications of PT.

Heward, W. L. (2003). Ten Faulty Notions About Teaching and Learning That Hinder the Effectiveness of Special Education. The Journal of Special Education, 36(4), 186-205. 

Commonly held notions about teaching and learning influence and reflect the practice of many classroom teachers. This article discusses 10 such notions that the author believes limit the effectiveness of special education by impeding the adoption of research-based instructional practices. Each notion is described, and then the author briefly discusses why or how it hinders effective instruction. Reasons why many educators subscribe to these faulty notions are suggested, and three recommendations that may increase the adoption of research-based teaching practices are offered.

Kubina, R.M., Morrison, R.S. (2000). Fluency in Education. Behavior and Social Issues, 10, 83–99.

Abstract: Critics of the United States educational system point out many contemporary problems and offer solutions based on what they perceive as the fundamental issues. How teachers measure student progress and define mastery rarely receive attention. The use of standard units of measurement and a standard graphical display have allowed Precision Teachers to uncover important features of learning. One such discovery, performance standards, has demonstrated that students can retain skills over significant amounts of time, perform at high rates with little performance decrement, and apply “element” skills to more sophisticated “compound” skills. Performance standards discovered by Precision Teachers allow a behavioral determination of fluency, or mastery. The recognition of Precision Teaching methods and results in regard to measuring behavior and determining mastery contributes to one of the most significant social issues in American society, education.