Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jim Carr

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda LeBlanc

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Mallot

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The common recommendation to reserve the most potent reinforcers for unprompted responses during acquisition programming, sometimes referred to as differential reinforcement of independent responding, has little published empirical support for its purported benefits (enhanced rate of acquisition, decreased likelihood of errors and prompt dependence). The purpose of the current investigation was to compare the delivery of high-quality reinforcers exclusively following unprompted responses (differential condition) with the delivery of high-quality reinforcers following both prompted and unprompted responses (non-differential condition) on the rate of skill acquisition for two children with autism. Participants were taught multiple· pairs of target skills (picture sequencing, tacting) using a discrete-trial preparation in conjunction with both differential and non-differential teaching procedures. Alternating treatments and reversal designs were used to evaluate the effects of both conditions on the rate of acquisition for each participant. Results demonstrate that the differential reinforcement procedure reliably produced skill acquisition whereas the non-differential reinforcement procedure did not.

Included in

Psychology Commons