First, maintenance tasks (i.e. previously mastered skills) are interspersed which has been shown to keep success rates and motivation high (e.g. Koegel, et al., 1989). Child choice is also incorporated which has also been shown to improve motivation (e.g. Koegel, O’Dell, & Koegel, 1987). Engaging cartoon characters are used to act as role models and teach various skills throughout the program. Early focus studies have shown that the characters are very engaging and future research will evaluate their effectiveness further. Fun, age-appropriate reward games and cartoons are used including topics that are popular among young children such as pirates, animals, sports, music, transportation, and silliness (e.g. giggling, jumping, etc). To get access to the rewards, the child must get answers correct (or correct with prompting). Correct answers are reinforced on a variable ratio schedule with rewards available approximately every 4 correct (or prompted) responses (VR-4). This intermittent schedule of reinforcement has been shown to be effective for keeping responses high, particularly on the computer (e.g. Neef & Lutz, 2001).
Clinical definition: B.F. Skinner described motivation in the following way: Motivating operations (MO) that establish whether or not an organism’s behavior will be affected by a consequence. Such antecedent states include establishing operations, which increase the effectiveness of their corresponding consequences, and abolishing operations, which decrease their effectiveness. Besides modulating the effectiveness of consequences, these motivating operations can also acquire discriminative control over an organism’s behavior. For example, an organism which is in a state of hunger (establishes food as an effective reinforcer) is more likely to engage in behavior that has previously resulted in being fed, while an organism in a satiated state (abolishes the effectiveness of food as a reinforcer) less likely to engage in such behavior.