Task differences in reinforcer assessments for math performance deficits with elementary general education students

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel H. Tingstrom

Advisor Department



This study examined the effect of task differences on reinforcers selected by students for a contrived task (i.e., number cancellation task) and their usual math work (in-class work and homework). Participants were selected on the basis of exhibiting a performance deficit in the area of mathematics. Students were reinforced for math work completion and the number cancellation task with items they deemed to be high and low preference. At the conclusion of the study, teachers rated their perceptions of the social validity of the recommended intervention and procedures. Overall, 3 of the 4 students demonstrated increases in number cancellation and work completion, though much variability was present within the data. Changes in work completion and number cancellation were noted when reinforcement conditions were changed. Within the data series, there was a tendency for high preference items to produce greater responding than low preference, though this was not consistent across participants. Most teachers rated the work completion intervention as highly socially valid, with a trend to rate the contrived task procedure lower. Limitations and future directions for research are discussed.