Assessment of Motivation

Authors:

Christina Whalen and Shannon Cernich

Publication:

Presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Conference

Date:

2007

Research Questions:

Are the reinforcers (i.e. reward games) reinforcing (i.e. are the reward games in TeachTown: Basics reinforcing the child’s attending behavior?

Participants:

10 students (7 boys, 3 girls) with Autism Spectrum Disorders attending a non-public school in the San Francisco bay area; Ages 5 years 7 months – 13 years, 4 months; Avg. autism severity (according to the Childhood Autism Rating Scale — CARS) 41.5 (severely autistic); Avg. receptive language age (according to the PPVT-III) 3 years, 7 months; Avg. expressive language age (according to the EOWVT) 2 years, 7 months

Design:

Within-subject (each child compared to self in 2 different conditions)

Procedure:

Child videotaped using the TeachTown: Basics software program with a school staff person sitting next to them. Tapes were coded by blind raters comparing behavior during the learning trials vs. behavior during the reward games.

Results:

Children attended significantly more (p <.05) when the rewards were present than when the lessons (i.e. learning trials) were presented, but, attention to the computer was high in both conditions.

Chart

Children demonstrated more disruptive behavior (i.e. walking away, noncompliance) during the lessons than during rewards (not statistically significant).

Chart

Children demonstrated more motivation and social behaviors with school staff during the rewards than during the lessons.

Chart

Conclusion:

The reward games in the TeachTown: Basics software appear to act as reinforcers, but, the program appears to have intrinsic reinforcing qualities even during the lessons as attention to task, motiviation, and social behaviors were observed in both conditions.

Funding:

TeachTown, Inc.