PORTL stands for the Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab. It provides an interactive environment for learning about behavior principles and investigating behavioral phenomena. The nearly 50 exercises in this manual can be used to model a wide-range of behavior analytic concepts and principles. They will also help you improve your shaping and problem-solving skills. By the final chapters, you will have the skills to conduct your own inquiry and research projects.
The manual is divided into four main sections:
- The first part of the manual introduces you to the game of PORTL. You will learn what supplies you need to play PORTL, learn how to set up the teaching environment, and practice the PORTL reinforcement system. It also includes several sample curricula that can be used as you go through the manual.
- The second part of the manual will teach you about differential reinforcement and shaping. The six shaping foundational exercises in Chapter 4 will help you see the component pieces that make up larger behaviors and let you practice teaching these components. As you practice these exercises, your shaping skills and problem-solving skills will improve.
- The third part of the manual will allow you to model a variety of different principles and concepts using PORTL. This includes schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, concepts, and behavior chains. As you complete these exercises, you will discover more about how behavior works.
- The fourth part of the manual will acquaint you with errorless learning, inquiry projects, and research projects. The skills you have practiced in the earlier chapters will come together as you learn how to teach behaviors with minimal errors and practice using PORTL to ask and answer your own questions about behavior.
You will need minimal instructions to start playing PORTL. However, as you gain more experience with the game, you can use it to ask and answer complex questions about behavior.
Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz is an associate professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Donald M. Baer. During his graduate training, he also worked closely with Dr. Ogden R. Lindsley. Dr. Rosales-Ruiz’s areas of interest include antecedent control of behavior, generalization, behavioral cusps, fluency-based teaching, treatment of autism, teaching of academic behavior, animal training, rule-governed behavior, and contingency-shaped behavior. He has served on several editorial boards, including the Journal of Precision Teaching, the European Journal of Behavior Analysis, and the International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy. Dr. Rosales-Ruiz is a fellow of the Eastern Psychological Association and a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
Mary Hunter earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas. She runs her own animal training business and serves as president of The Art and Science of Animal Training, a Texas-based nonprofit that provides educational programs for professional animal trainers. In addition, Mary teaches classes at the University of North Texas as an adjunct instructor. Mary’s research interests include studying the process of shaping and developing better methods for teaching both people and animals.