Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This multiple baseline study examined the effect of tangible reinforcers on two academic tasks and one sensory-motor task with a trainable mentally retarded class of nine subjects ranging from 12 to 16 years of age. A greater increase in the total number of correct responses for the academic tasks over the sensory-motor task was observed. A reinforcer that could serve as both a primary reinforcer (candy) and a secondary reinforce (token) was chosen. Gumballs were distributed by a gumball machine contingent upon correct response. The subjects immediately grasped the concept of barter and retained all gumballs earned and traded them for small toys and trinkets. The preference demonstrated by these subjects for secondary reinforcers over primary reinforcers is contrary to previous study on reinforcers. It was concluded that academic tasks can be taught to the trainable mentally retarded in a group situation using behavior modification methods, and that trainable mentally retarded subjects may choose secondary reinforcers over primary reinforcers.


James Ryabik

Date of Award

Summer 1973

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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