Precision Teaching Terminology

On Terms

The Standard Celeration Chart (SCC; pronounced ess-see-see) has been key component of Precision Teaching (PT; I capitalize the name of the field, rendering it into a proper noun). The chart has always posed some challenges when it comes to teaching people about it and how to use it and why. So, here are some chart terms that sometimes may serve as fluency-blockers when teaching the chart, or if you’re a student, when trying to learn the chart.

**Record Floor**. This term is also known as the Counting Floor, Counting Time, Time Bar, Counting Period, and more. Based on my own 11 years of teaching the SCC to graduate students, the time bar has been the biggest fluency-blocker when students are learning the chart, but it’s also probably the most important term and concept; one that certainly sets the SCC apart from mainstream graphs and charts.

The record floor designates the time that you spent recording behavior. On the SCC it’s a small dashed horizontal line that you draw connecting a Tuesday to Thursday line. In that sense, it’s a record; short for recording. In the olden days of the analysis of behavior, Skinner and his students and associates actually recorded behavior as it occurred on event recorders and later cumulative response recorders. These devices fed out paper continuously from a spool of paper. The feed-out ran at a constant speed, and this speed was calibrated by gear settings that varied by species. A moveable pen would mark directly onto the paper as it rolled underneath. Each time an organism made a response (e.g., pressed a lever; pecked a key), the pen would move up the paper slightly (across the top of the recorder itself, right to left). The angle or slope of the line produced then was proportional to the rate of the responding: The higher that rate, became the steeper the recorded line. When the SCC was developed, this old concept of recording persisted in the form of the record floor.

The record floor also designates the lowest frequency that could be counted during that time spent recording. The lowest count is 1, so if you counted only 1 behavior during the time span, then that’s your lowest frequency for that time span. On an SCC, for a frequency count of 1, the dot gets placed right on the record floor.

If you did not count so much as even 1 behavior during the designated time span, then you have a 0. But notice! That 0 is with respect only to that time spent recording! That’s all that 0 means. It does not mean 0 for an entire day unless you recorded for an entire day. So, if you ran a 10-minute session, on an SCC the record floor is drawn on the 0.1 per minute line, which technically is one-tenth of a response per minute. But, that’s meaningless. What 0.1 per minute really means is 1 response in 10 minutes (1/10 = 0.1). The record floor thus, not only indicates how long a recording session lasted, but also provides a means for indicating a one (a dot right on the record floor) and a zero (but, again, a 0 only for the session time, nothing further). I’ll revisit the “0 problem” at some later time.

**Celeration Period**. The celeration period is the third dimension in the definition of celeration. Celeration has three “dimensions”: (1) count, (2) per time, (3) per time. On a daily per minute SCC, what most people think of as being “the chart,” celeration is defined as responses per minute per week: r/min/wk. A week is the celeration period. That’s the time across which the celeration is computed and assigned a quantitative value.

The celeration period is critical to understanding celeration itself. In fact, since celeration is a dimensional, measure, the proper way of speaking of a particular celeration is to include both the number (the count) and the two standard international units (the minute and the week). To report a celeration you need all three, as well as the sign, which will be a x (multiply by) symbol or a / (divide by symbol; aka “slash”). An example might be x2 per minute per week. Another example might be x4/min/wk. A deceleration could be /1.4/min/week. Any variation works, just so long as you have and mention all three parts. A nonexample would be to report a celeration value as x2, or as x4. Those would be non-examples because they exclude the units

**Multiply-Divide Scale**. Some persons refer to the y-axis of the SCC as a “logarithmic” scale. Technically, it’s not, because a logarithmic scale would run 0, 1, 2, 3, and be equal interval add-subtract. Look up logarithms. The scale on the y-axis of the SCC is based on logarithms, which explains the weird pattern of the lines getting closer and closer together when you go up the scale from 1 to 10, and again from 10 to 100, and so on.

Calling the scale multiply-divide is possibly less foreboding than calling it logarithmic. And it is more accurate: the term multiply-divide indicates the mathematical operation used to move up (multiply) and down (divide) the scale. Such is what Lindsley called the “multiply world.” On an SCC, the vertical distance between a 2 and a 4 is exactly the same as between a 3 and a 6,, and between a 4 and an 8, and between a 5 and a 10, and between a 20 and a 40 and a 150 and a 300. In all those cases, the same exact distance refers to the operation of multiplying by factor of x2. Doubling, in other words! Tripling works the same way. From 1 to 3 runs the same distance from 2 to 6, and 9 to 27. True, there’s no 27 per minute line on the SCC, but if you know the distance meant by x3 (“times three”), then starting at 9, multiplying that by 3 (9 x 3), you can find where the 27 per minute line would go. This feature is one way of finding rates that are not printed on the vertical axis! — JE 9 April 2018