Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Department name when degree awarded

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Committee Chair(s)

Tyra Sellers


Tyra Sellers


Timothy Slocum


Sarah Pinkelman


Jared C. Schultz


Michael P. Twohig


Applied behavior analysts use reinforcement to enact socially meaningful outcomes with the individuals that they work with. Identifying the ways in which reinforcers function optimally is an important consideration for behavioral research. Preference for reinforcers, and how effective reinforcers are, may change depending upon several factors. Two important factors to consider are how reinforcers are arranged and the technology level of the reinforcers used. Reinforcers can be delivered following every response in a distributed manner or they can be delivered following several responses in an accumulated manner. Additionally, leisure items used as reinforcers can be classified according to technology level, for example high- and low-tech items. The purpose of this study was to examine the interaction and effects of reinforcer arrangements (i.e., distributed reinforcement and accumulated reinforcement) and technology level of items (i.e., high-tech and low-tech) on preference and reinforcer efficacy with three children with autism. Participants selected a preferred high- and low-tech item and engaged in academic tasks to earn the items in either accumulated or distributed arrangements. Results of two experiments demonstrated that participants responded more quickly when reinforcers were provided in an accumulated arrangement regardless of whether a high-tech or low-tech item was provided. Participants also preferred to work for reinforcers provided in accumulated arrangements. Overall, participants’ responding and preference were sensitive to different reinforcer arrangements but were less sensitive to differences in the technology level of the reinforcers used.