Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Marcie Desrochers, PhD

Second Advisor

Jeffery Snarr, PhD

Third Advisor

Lori-Ann Forzano, PhD

Abstract

Effective teaching approaches are essential to students’ learning outcomes and overall academic experiences. Low academic achievement (e.g., low homework or test scores) may lead an instructor to seek alternative approaches to strengthening students’ acquisition of academic material. Group contingencies have been identified as effective behavioral interventions for strengthening students’ academic performance within a classroom setting. The present study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of independent and interdependent group contingencies compared with non-contingent reinforcement (NCR) when used as behavioral interventions for college students’ academic performance. Using a 3 x 3 factorial design, three randomly-assigned experimental groups of participants were simultaneously presented with counterbalanced orders of an independent group contingency, an interdependent group contingency, and an NCR condition in a contrived classroom setting. Subjective evaluation assessments measured participants’ experiences with and preferences of the three types of reinforcement conditions. Post-tests and retention tests were used to measure participants’ acquisition of academic material and retention effects of each reinforcement condition, respectively. Amongst the three types of reinforcement conditions, the majority of participants reported that their most preferred requirements for winning the $5.00 cash reward (reinforcer) were those of the independent group contingency. No significant differences were found between participants’ mean post-test and retention test scores for each reinforcement condition. However, possible significant differences between reinforcement conditions were revealed with participants’ mean post-test scores in that the p-value for the analysis of variance conducted with this data approached statistical significance.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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