Individualizing Learning Arrangements for Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Principal Investigator: Griffin Rooker

The frequent and immediate delivery of reinforcers (rewards) following completion of academic tasks and related activities is an integral part of many educational programs for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. One area of particular interest is the influence of specific parameters of reinforcement (e.g., quality, delay, and effort required to produce reinforcers) on academically related work behavior. Our prior efforts have revealed that high-preference or low-quality reinforcers can sometimes sustain as much adaptive behavior as higher preference/quality reinforcers. We have also observed that delivery of token reinforcers (e.g., stickers later exchangeable for the actual reinforcers) can sometimes sustain performances as well as the actual reinforcers. We now propose to examine how well lower-preference reinforcers and token reinforcers sustain their effects when the reinforcement system is modified to make it more practical for use in naturalistic settings. Generally, this will be accomplished by comparing the effects of lower quality reinforcers and token reinforcers to those of actual, high-quality reinforcers as the amount of work required is increased or as the delay to reinforcement is increased.