DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTS OF TOKEN REINFORCEMENT ON INSTRUCTION-FOLLOWING BEHAVIOR IN RETARDED STUDENTS INSTRUCTED AS A GROUP

Authors


The Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, 1100 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202

Abstract

This study was addressed to the problem of applying behavior modification techniques on a group basis to a class of retarded students with “attentional deficits”. Seven boys, age 8 to 15 yr, characterized as showing severe “attentional” problems or disruptive behavior in their respective classrooms, participated daily for 30-min sessions in a special class over a 1.5-month period. In each session, verbal instructions were given to the class as a whole. In control sessions, each appropriate instruction-following response by a child produced praise for that child. In experimental sessions, appropriate responses also produced tokens exchangeable for tangible reinforcers after the session. Token reinforcement differentially maintained instruction-following behavior in four children while one responded appropriately to most instructions and a second improved continuously during the study. While the data suggest that the present approach can be successfully applied to the alteration of instruction-following behavior in retarded children, its major contribution may be that of providing objective quantitative information about such behavior.

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