Theses Doctoral

Establishment of Conditioned Reinforcement for Reading Content and Effects on Reading Achievement for Early-Elementary Students

Gentilini, Lara

Reading interest is a significant predictor of reading achievement, with effects on both reading comprehension and vocabulary. We measured students’ interest in reading as an estimate of duration of observable reading using whole intervals of silent-reading time. In Experiment 1, we assessed associations among interest in reading (i.e., reinforcement value of reading) and the reading comprehension and vocabulary of 34 second-grade students. There were significant correlations between reading interest and these dependent measures. In Experiment 2, we simultaneously conducted a combined preintervention and postintervention design with multiple probe logic to test the effect of the establishment of a high interest in reading (i.e., conditioned reinforcement for reading) via a collaborative shared reading procedure with a teacher on reading comprehension and vocabulary. This procedure involved periods of reciprocal reading and related collaborative reading activities designed to increase students’ interest in reading. The establishment of a high interest in reading for 7 of the participants resulted in grade-level increases from 0.1 to 2.2 grades on various measures of reading achievement in less than 9 sessions (315 min). In Experiment 3, we implemented a combined small-n experimental-control simultaneous treatment design and a single-case multiple-probe design with multiple-probe logic. We tested and compared the effects of the establishment of conditioned reinforcement for reading, via the collaborative shared reading procedure with a teacher versus a peer, on participants’ gains in reading comprehension and vocabulary. All participants for whom conditioned reinforcement for reading was established in Experiment 3 (n = 7) demonstrated gains in reading achievement after a maximum of nine sessions (412 min), with grade-level increases between 0.2 and 2.5 on measures of reading comprehension and 0.3 to 3.1 on measures of vocabulary. Based on a comparison of the dependent variables included in both Experiments 2 and 3, the modified teacher-yoked collaborative shared reading procedure in Experiment 2 resulted in greatest relative average gains in reading achievement for participants who acquired conditioned reinforcement for reading (n = 3). However, the modified collaborative shared reading procedure with a peer required the least amount of teacher mediation and may be more viable for teachers. This trans-disciplinary effort proposes an account of motivation to read as conditioned reinforcement for reading content and its effects on reading achievement, with the educationally-significant goal of establishing reinforcers for continued learning.


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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 30, 2019