TAGteach® Terms

Here is a list of the official TAGteach terms showing their proper spacing and capitalization. The term TAGteach is a registered trademark and should include the registered trademark symbol ® the first time it’s used in an article.

This list shows the way that the terms should be written in a sentence. Regular capitalization rules apply if they’re used in a heading or title.

TAG (as acronym for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance) and TAGteach are interchangeable. Please note that TAGteach is written as 1 word with the TAG in upper case and the teach in lower case. TAGteacher and TAGteaching are also written this way, but other terms such as tag point are written in lower case as two words. When used as a noun or verb, tag is written in lower case.

TAG (as acronym for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance)
TAGteach®
TAGteacher
TAGteaching
tag (as noun or verb)
tagger
tag triangle
tag point
tagulator
focus funnel
point of success
three try rule
peer tagging
tag phrasing
TAGteach script (click here to download)
WOOF (What you Want, One thing, Observable, Five words or less)

Learn About these Terms for Free

Take an hour and learn about the basic terms and how they all work together as part of TAGteach in our free online course: Fundamentals of TAGteach.

Glossary of TAGteach Terms and Phrases

Download the glossary in English as a PDF
Download the glossary in four languages (English, French, Italian and German)

Applied Behavior Analysis

The field of science from which TAGteach and other reinforcement-based teaching and training technologies have been developed.

Behavior

Physical activity in general; or a specific movement or group of related movements (‘a behavior’).

Conditioned Reinforcer

Any stimulus that has acquired positive reinforcing properties through association with other reinforcers such as food, praise or success.  [The tagger is a conditioned reinforcer -providing a positive stimulus that occurs simultaneously with a desired act or response.]

Focus fatigue

Mental fatigue that occurs when a tag session is too long for a particular learner.

Focus Funnel

A technique used in planning and teaching.  Beginning with a broad lesson, information is reduced into more concrete directions and then reduced again to a precise tag point. (Also see reverse focus funnel)

Incompatible behavior

Short for differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI). Eliminate a designated behavior by strengthening other behaviors that are incompatible with it.

Operant Conditioning

Any procedure by which a behavior becomes more or less likely to occur, depending on its consequences. [In TAGteach, the consequences are always positive and desired responses become more likely to occur.]

Peer Tagging

Student-to-student tag configurations and activities.

Point of Success

A behavior to start or to repeat, for which the student is guaranteed a tag.

Positive Reinforcement

A procedure in which a behavior is paired with a desired stimulus or event that will increase the chance of the behavior happening again in the future.

Reverse Focus Funnel

Deliver the least amount of information necessary for success first (tag point). Once the behavior has been accomplished, and the learner is more confident, additional information can be delivered.  This is useful in situations where too much information may overwhelm the learner and cause a loss of concentration. 

Shaping

An operant learning procedure in which small increments of a desired response are reinforced.  By reinforcing some small response, and then selecting stronger or longer occurrences, one can ‘shape’ or build a more elaborate behavior.

Stimulus

Something in the environment that can be sensed – a sound, an object, a color, etc. A discriminative stimulus is something the learner can perceive which indicates an action to be taken (for example a red light is a stimulus to step on the brake).

Marker

Something which “marks” or identifies a desired action. Typically a TAGteach marker emits a brief, distinct, uniform stimulus used to pinpoint movement as it is happening; a click from a ball point pen, a clicker, hand clap, a finger snap. Some Smart phone applications provide appropriate marker tones.

Tag

As a verb it is the action of marking someone’s correct behavior (as in “tag for each blink”).  As a noun, it means the mark that is placed on a correct behavior (as in “You got 5 tags today!”). (see Marker)

Tag Phrasing

The wording used for preparing and delivering tag points (see WOOF)

Tag Point

The specific aspect of a behavior that when/as performed will receive the audible mark (tag). (see WOOF for tag point criteria)

Tag Triangle

The three components of the TAGteach process: Identify, Mark and Reinforce.

TAGteach

TAGteach is a protocol that promotes positive interactions for increased productivity and success. The acronym TAG stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance and refers to the audible marker, a key tool used in the system designed to highlight success. The TAGteach protocol also includes tools to deliver information, reduce inefficient language, assess performance, create confidence and deliver positive reinforcement.

Tagulator

A device made from beads that slide on a string that allows the teacher or learner to keep track of the number of tags they have earned or given.

Three Try Rule

If a learner fails to perform the designated tag point three times, the teacher creates and delivers a more achievable tag point.  The three try rule is more of a guide than a rule. Some learners want to work things out for themselves and will try several times without getting discouraged. Others would rather take very small steps forward and succeed nearly every time.

Value Added Tag Point

A single tag point in which more than one problem may be resolved.  (e.g., The tag point “keys in pocket”, would keep the keys from being misplaced and from being locked in the car.)

WOOF

The acronym defining the four criteria for a tag point: What you want, One criterion, Observable and definable, Five words or less 

(Some technical definitions are adapted from Learning and Behavior.  Third Edition, by Paul Chance, Ph. D.  Brooks Cole, Pub. Pacific Grove, CA.  1994)  

Confessions of an Equestrian Instructor in the Pursuit of Excellence

By Jane Jackson, Level 3 TAGteacher

In my pursuit of excellence (for myself and my students) I discovered TAGteach. This teaching approach has added many effective new tools to my tool box and has provided me with ways of becoming a better instructor. The first three (of many) things which pop into my head when I think about how TAGteach has helped me are: 

  1. observation
  2. breaking things down and; 
  3. reinforcing successes.  

I tend to prefer the term instructor over the term trainer when talking about teaching people to ride. For the purpose of this article, I’ll use “instructor” when talking about teaching people, and “trainer” when talking about teaching horses. 

Observation Skills are Critical

We all have favorite exercises we use when we teach, but a canned approach only takes you so far. We also have to watch the student and see what needs help: position, confidence, comprehension, something different? We may start with an exercise such as riding a square by halting in each corner and doing a partial turn on the forehand to line up with the next side of the square. Observation comes in if the horse and rider pair do not execute the exercise correctly. Why not? Is the rider’s leg in the correct position? Is she using her seat correctly? Does she understand how to use her aids to ask for the turn? Does the horse understand the leg aid? Maybe all of those things are in need of help! 

Breaking it Down

That brings us to breaking it down. As trainers, we know that the aids must be correct in order for the horse to understand what we are asking. We naturally want to make all of it correct so the tendency is to say, “next time slide your leg back and don’t lean over and make sure you maintain the bend but don’t pull on the inside rein….”. As instructors, we’ve also been in the saddle when someone else was barking orders at us (and boy do we have stories to tell about how rough WE had it when we were learning). So in order to make it easier on our students and to help them be successful- which of course helps us look good-, we can use TAGteach. We can break it down and only work on one of those skills at a time. “But!”, you say, “you have to have all those things in order to get it right”. Well, yes, but does anyone do it correctly the first time? Or even the tenth time? Better to break it down and make progress in one aspect of the skill, than to keep repeating yourself while your student gets frustrated trying to remember all the different things at once and still not getting it right. You can even take it out of the context of the turn. Focus on the leg position while she’s riding down the long side and have the student practice putting it in the correct place and back until she feels confident and can easily put her leg where you want it repeatedly. Tag each time she correctly places her leg.  Then you can focus on the seat while leaving the leg out of the picture for a bit. Focusing on each component individually allows to the student to feel and experience each before trying to put them together.

Reinforcing Success

Finally, reinforcing the student’s successes helps nail the skill down. A reinforcer is defined as something which will make the behavior more likely to happen in the future. While training animals, food is a great reinforcer because most animals like food. My young students are reinforced by receiving stickers or little plastic ponies for their efforts (we keep track of each tag and they barter them for prizes afterward). For many riders, simply being able to execute the skill correctly is reinforcement enough. That is, after all, why they are taking lessons- they want to become better riders! Being able to ride away from a lesson and say, “I can ask for and get a turn on the forehand” for the first time is sweet! But we want to help our student get to that point. So little reinforcers along the way, for each step of that process, is what I have learned is invaluable. First, you have to mark that correct performance of the skill. While a clicker is best for the accuracy and non-judgmental tone, you can also use your voice: “there!” when the rider gets the leg in the right place. Repeating the skill so that the affirming marker is heard repeatedly is what will create an easier and easier performance. So whether you have students pull down beads on a tagulator for each successful repetition or they simply get to hear and feel the little successes, keep that “rate of reinforcement” high.

An Example

Here is an example. In the first photo the rider has her heels down properly, but her leg is too far forward. When I ask her to move her foot more to the back, she moves it too far and now her heel has come up into the wrong position (see photo 2). So we have two things to fix: the position of the heel (should be down below the stirrup) and the position of the heel relative to the hip (should be aligned). Deciding to work on only one aspect (the heel/hip alignment), I put a piece of purple tape on the hip and the heel and give the tag point “tape to tape”. The rider will get a tag when she lines up the tape horizontally. Success!

Video Examples from Webinar with Jane

The Bonus?

Observing, breaking things down and reinforcing successes are three critical components of using TAGteach and as such, they are some of the initial skills taught at a TAGteach seminar or the online course.  The bonus? I feel I have become a better trainer and rider myself through this process of careful examination. 

Recorded Webinar with Jane

Do you see promise and potential in your students, but wish they would progress faster? This webinar will show you how to boost your student’s performance. You’ll learn how to make simple changes to your teaching approach. You’ll learn how to talk less, say more and motivate your students to do their very best. You’ll learn about a powerful new approach to giving structured, perfectly timed positive reinforcement. This is a practical webinar that will show you exactly how to use TAGteach. TAGteach is teaching method that uses the principles of behavior science for precise, efficient, effective teaching. Elite orthopedic surgeons are trained this way as reported in Scientific American. Your students will be thrilled to know that they are being taught like surgeons!

Raise the bar for your teaching and for your student’s performance.

In this webinar you’ll see creative ideas for removing the horse (and his stress) from the picture and using just a few minutes on the ground before the lesson to minimize unnecessary errors.
This webinar includes discussion and commentary from TAGteach cofounders Theresa McKeon, Joan Orr and Karen Pryor.

More About Jane

For more information about Jane, visit BookendsFarm.com and check out her blog at bookendsfarm.blogspot.com

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TAGteach Tip: Ask for What You Want (Don’t Think About Elephants)

You’re thinking about elephants aren’t you? I know you are! Despite the very explicit and clear written instruction in the title and even a carefully designed picture (worth a thousand words apparently), you are doing precisely the opposite of what I have wanted you to do. Is this a reflection of your inability to understand and follow even the simplest of instructions? Perhaps you are stubborn, slow to comprehend, lazy or just plain contrary? Or perhaps I have gone about the whole “not thinking about elephants” thing entirely the wrong way?

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