Date of Award

2002

Degree Name

School Psychology

College

College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree

Ed.S.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Dr. Victor Lombardo

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a token economy system in comparison to social praise on the manifest behaviors of learning disabled students at an elementary school in West Virginia. The null hypothesis of this study was that there would be no significant difference between a token economy system in comparison to social praise on the manifest behaviors of learning disabled students. The following research question was examined in this study: What are the effects of a token economy system in comparison to social praise on the manifest behaviors of learning disabled students?

Literature relevant to this study revealed that a token economy system can be an effective method for changing or controlling student behavior (Mathur, 1996; Rhode, Morgan, & Young, 1983; Turkewitz, O’Leary, & Ironsmith, 1975; DeMartini-Scully, 2000). Some cautions suggested in the study were also noted. Token economy systems can be time-consuming and costly (Lovitt, 1978). Further research revealed that a strategy that may be effective in a token economy system is to fade away from the constant reinforcing with tangible rewards and have students monitor their own performance (Rhode, Morgan, & Young, 1983; Turkewitz, O’Leary, & Ironsmith, Mathur, 1996; Hartmann & Hall, 1976).

Literature relevant to social praise revealed that in order for social praise to be effective, it must be offered soon after the occurrence of the behavior being reinforced (Hancock, 2000; Sanger & Maag, 1994). Modest changes in behavior were noted as a result of social praise in the research studied (Uncial, Miller, & Owens, 1986; Rawson & Cassidy, 1995).

In this study, ten learning disabled students from an elementary school in West Virginia were tested using the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-Revised to obtain the manifest behaviors of the Control and Experimental Groups. For the purpose of this research project, the total DSM-IV Token Economy iii scores on the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-Revised were used to measure the manifest behaviors.

The results of this study found that there was no significant difference between a token economy system in comparison to social praise on the manifest behaviors of elementary learning disabled students. This may have been caused by the similarities of the learning disabled students. Furthermore, these findings do not support the related literature which stated there was a positive relationship between a token economy system and manifest behaviors of learning disabled students. A conclusion and implications for future research ideas were discussed.

Subject(s)

Token economy (Psychology).

Praise.

Learning disable children |x Behavior modification.

Included in

Economics Commons

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