The Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab (PORTL) is a powerful tool for modeling behavior principles and for teaching students how to shape behaviors. In addition, it can be used to conduct research studies.
(If you’ve never heard of PORTL, visit this article to learn more.)
The simplicity of PORTL makes it ideal for research. PORTL doesn’t involve expensive equipment or require the researcher to have extensive knowledge of computer programming. In addition, participants can learn the rules in just a few minutes.
However, PORTL is powerful. It can be used to investigate many different types of questions related to both human and animal learning.
PORTL research often begins with what we call “inquiry.” This means that you have an idea that you want to explore further. Perhaps you read a research study, but you were left with more questions than answers. Or, perhaps you have seen or heard something in practice, and you are curious to know more about how and why it works.
PORTL gives you a way to model your idea and start asking questions about it. Once you figure out how to reproduce your idea using PORTL, you may decide to embark on a full-fledged experimental analysis.
For an example of using PORTL for research, please visit this article about The Power of One Reinforcer.