Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Wacker, David P

Second Advisor

Hua, Youjia

First Committee Member

Ringdahl, Joel E

Second Committee Member

Therrien, William J

Third Committee Member

Woods-Groves, Suzanne


Students may avoid working on difficult tasks because it takes them longer to complete those tasks, which results in a delay to reinforcement. Research studies show that reinforcer and response dimensions can be manipulated within a concurrent operants framework to bias choice allocation toward more difficult tasks. The current study extends previous literature on concurrent choice assessments by examining the effects of reinforcement schedules and fluency interventions on the choice allocation between low and high effort math tasks. The study was conducted with 4 second graders in an elementary school. The choice assessment conducted prior to fluency training (Phase 1) examined the effects of enriching the reinforcement schedule for the high effort tasks on student choice. During fluency training (Phase 2), strategies to increase fluency rates on high effort tasks were implemented. The choice assessment following fluency training (Phase 3) examined changes in choice pattern when the same choice alternatives were available as in Phase 1. A concurrent schedules with reversal design was used to identify student response allocation to tasks under different reinforcement conditions during the choice assessments. The fluency training phase was conducted as a case study design. The three important findings of this study were: (a) prior to fluency training, the 4 students allocated more time to low effort tasks when equal reinforcement was provided for both types of math tasks; the students then shifted to high effort tasks as the reinforcement schedule was enriched for these tasks; (b) fluency training strategies were effective in increasing the rate at which high effort tasks were accurately completed; and (c) all 4 students switched more quickly to high effort tasks following fluency training. Implications for educators are discussed.


choice assessment, concurrent schedules, fluency training, learning difficulty, math tasks


viii, 96 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 93-96).


Copyright 2010 Maliha Zaman