Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Sarah E. Bloom

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Timothy A. Slocum

Abstract

Assessing preference for stimuli has been shown to be of value when determining potential reinforcers for individuals with disabilities. Researchers have found that preference for forms of social interaction can be identified for persons with disabilities. Furthermore, these same social interactions can be used as reinforcers for these same persons. This study conceptualized different languages as different types of social interactions. Assessing preference for languages may be of use to identify forms of social reinforcement that can be used with English Language Learners (ELLs) with disabilities. Identifying reinforcers may be of value for this population to inform how to structure language supports in their environment. Five ELLs with disabilities between the ages of 10 and 17 years old participated in the study. We conducted a paired-stimulus preference assessment for specific language praise statements in English and Spanish to determine the language in which the participants preferred praise. Following the preference assessment, we conducted a concurrent-chains reinforcer assessment to determine reinforcing efficacy of praise in each language. We found two of five participants preferred Spanish praise to English praise. Three of five participants’ preference was undifferentiated between Spanish and English praise. For four of the five participants praise in different languages functioned as a reinforcer. All participants’ preference assessments predicted, to a degree, the results of their reinforcer assessments. From these results we concluded our paired stimulus preference assessment was effective for evaluating preference for different types of praise. Preference was also indicative of reinforcing efficacy of praise.

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