Three severely retarded children were given training on several two-choice discrimination problems. Each discrimination problem consisted of displaying two ordinary children's toys and asking the child to point to the toy named by the experimenter. The names consisted of three-letter (consonant-vowel-consonant) nonsense syllables. Training on each problem was conducted under one of three different reinforcement conditions. In the condition labeled “specific reinforcement,” correct choices were followed by the opportunity to play with the toy to which the child pointed. Under the “nonspecific reinforcement” condition, correct responses were followed by the opportunity to play with a toy offered by the experimenter, but which was not a part of the training pair. In the “variable reinforcement” condition, the child was offered, on correct pointing occasions, either the toy to which he or she pointed, or the toy which was not one of the pair being trained, in random order. The results indicated the level of correct responding was higher under the “specific reinforcement” condition than under either of the two other conditions, even when the latter were “weighted” for strength of reinforcement potential. It was concluded that a strategy of reinforcement which includes cue values of the discriminative stimulus may strengthen the learning process.
AAESPH Review – SAGE
Published: Dec 1, 1979