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Theses Doctoral

The Effect of the Establishment of Reinforcement Value for Math on Rate of Learning for Pre-Kindergarten Students

Maurilus, Emmy

The objective of Experiment I was to determine whether establishing conditioned reinforcement for engaging in math for pre-kindergarten students was possible using the three conditioning procedures outlined in previous research for conditioning book stimuli. The purpose of Experiment II was to determine whether this change in preference for engaging in math had an effect on 6 pre-kindergarten participants’ rate of learning math. In Experiment I a counterbalanced pre- and post-intervention ABAB/BABA functional analysis and a delayed multiple probe across dyads design, was used to measure the indirect and direct reinforcement value of math for each participant. Indirect measures referred to a functional analysis where the participants’ rate of responding to a performance task during a 1-min session when Play-Doh® was delivered as a reinforcer was compared to their rate of responding when math was delivered as a reinforcement operation. Direct measures referred to the number of 5-s intervals (out of 60) each participant engaged in math when given math worksheets and Play-Doh®. The individualized reinforcement intervention consisted of a sequence of conditioning procedures until a defined successful outcome resulted. First learn units were delivered, then stimulus-stimulus pairing, and then observational conditioning-by-denial. Learn unit instruction resulted in the establishment of conditioned reinforcement for the first dyad, while the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure was necessary for the remaining dyad. The purpose of Experiment II was to test if establishing conditioned reinforcement for math would change rate of learning. The dependent variable was each participant’s rate of learning as measured by the number of learn units required to meet mastery criterion for 4 units of the Multiple Exemplar Functional Math (MEF-Math) curriculum. The dependent variable, rate of learning, was tested using a multiple probe design. The independent variable was the establishment of conditioned reinforcement for math using individualized reinforcement procedures as detailed in Experiment I. The intervention also consisted of a multiple probe design on testing the effect of the individualized reinforcement procedures on establishing conditioned reinforcement. Three participants required learn units, 2 participants required the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure, and 1 participant required observational conditioning-by-denial to establish conditioned reinforcement for math. Results showed an educationally significant acceleration of learning following the establishment of conditioned reinforcement for math across all 6 participants. Results are discussed in terms of the significance of early math instruction.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Greer, R. Douglas
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 6, 2018