Prior research has demonstrated the establishment of reinforcers for learning and maintenance with young children as a function of social learning where a peer and an adult experimenter were present. The presence of an adult experimenter was eliminated in the present study to test if the effect produced in the prior studies would occur with only the peers present. Neutral stimuli, metal washers, were first demonstrated not to reinforce maintenance of responding nor learning compared to primary reinforcers determined by pre-intervention functional analyses with three 4-year-old children with slight language delays. In the intervention, washers were delivered mechanically to a peer confederate in the participants’ view as the participants and peers completed a performance task side by side. For several brief sessions, peers received washers via an opaque chute into a transparent plastic cup on the desk in view of the participants for responding, while participants, who also responded, did not receive washers. After the target students demonstrated extinction or criterion for termination of the procedure was reached, we returned to pre-intervention assessments, and participants responded equally under washer and primary reinforcers with effects comparable to prior experiments where the experimenter was present. Washers also maintained reinforcement effects 6 to 10 weeks later in classroom instruction.
The Psychological Record – Springer Journals
Published: May 23, 2017
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