Letter Recognition by Mentally Retarded Adults: Improving Performance through Differential Outcomes
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Alan D. Poling
Dr. Jack Michael
Dr. Wayne Fuqua
Masters Thesis-Open Access
Four mentally retarded adults were taught to recognize (i.e., discriminate) finger spelling letters when presented as members of unchanging pairs (e.g., A and E, G and H). Correct responses were followed by food or verbal praise. On average, terminal accuracy was significantly greater when a correct response to a given letter was consistently followed by a particular outcome (e.g., food followed correct responses to A and praise followed correct responses to E) than when nondifferential outcomes were arranged (e.g., food followed 50% of all correct responses and praise followed the remaining 50%, regardless of whether the responses were to A or E). These findings suggest that the differential outcomes effect, which has been repeatedly demonstrated in nonhumans, can be established when teaching meaningful discriminations to mentally retarded people.
Malanga, Paul R., "Letter Recognition by Mentally Retarded Adults: Improving Performance through Differential Outcomes" (1992). Masters Theses. 860.