Brief Article Summary
In children with autism, a token system is one of the instruments that are used to reinforce the desired behaviors. The article by Fiske et al. (2015) raises the problem of assisting the mentioned children with their learning and interaction with a teacher in a classroom. It is stated that previous research evaluated the variables that promote skills acquisition via a progressive-ratio (PR) schedule. In the given study, the authors conduct token system sessions with 7-year-old Annie and 14-year-old James to compare their results based on the primary reinforcement. It is found that both respondents demonstrated a low level of reaction in baseline and variable responding in token settings. The article findings assume that the effectiveness of token systems may be dependent on backup reinforcement identification frequency.
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Strengths and Limitations
The article reasonably begins with the definition of the concept of token systems to introduce the readers to the theme of the study. In particular, the authors clarify that a token economy reinforcement system is designed to provide positive support to a child for displaying desired behavior or completing tasks. Accordingly, the method section specifies the target behavior and the fact that a teacher issues tokens when the children demonstrate the specified target behavior. It is hypothesized that the token reward system can contribute to great success in working with children with autism in-demand setting. Based on these observations, one may state that the article identifies the background and the goals of the experiment being conducted.
The detailed explanation of the course of the study allows the readers to understand what exactly was performed by the authors, which shows the appropriate reliability of the experiment. Namely, both Annie (IQ=42) and James (IQ=40) were offered the tokens systems during 1 to 18 minutes sessions that were conducted twice for the former and once for the latter respondent per school day. The first observer collected information about the number and frequency of responses, and the second observer was responsible for gathering interobserver agreement data that was 100% for James and averaged 93% for Annie.
Furthermore, the general procedures are described, and conditions are also presented, including baseline, paired token, and primary reinforcement. Such a multielement design seems to be beneficial to take into account all the necessary points related to the methods, settings, and procedures of this study.
Another strong side of the given article is associated with the use of figures to present the findings. Fiske et al. (2015) provide the response outcomes of both Annie and James, emphasizing different conditions, sessions, and the number of responses. This solution can be regarded as rather important for the readers to understand the overall article’s contribution to the exploration of children with autistic spectrum diseases.
The review of the discussion sections makes it clear that the token systems can be used as a method of modifying a certain behavior or increasing the frequency of its manifestation. The token reward system can be a successful tool for increasing the level of desirable behavior, completing assignments and developing skills, reducing the level of problematic behavior. Because of the above-mentioned strengths, it is possible to conclude that the experiment conducted by the authors has theoretical and practical implications since the outcomes can be used by theorists for further research and teachers for classroom assignments and assessments.
The limitations of this study refer to the results’ generalization issues, setting specifics, and a lack of distinguishing between reinforcing and motivational efforts. First of all, only two children were evaluated, which restricts significant generalization, even though the tendency towards the impact of the token systems on a child’s behavior is evident. The article also includes the limitation related to the fact that the initial token method adopted in the classrooms of the participants was not known, and the one utilized in the study might be new.
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Nevertheless, as suggested by the authors, the type of assessment applied by them is comparable to the fictional analysis. The reinforcing value and motivation efforts were not divided deliberately, which may create some limitations to the consistency of the results. Last but not least, the reinforcing value was not fully isolated since the researchers justifiably assumed that the removal of a backup reinforce would cause ethical issues.
Future Research Perspectives
The prospects of future research are formulated by the authors of the given article, which is characteristic of their awareness of research development needs. First, they recommend seeking the methods for completely isolating the value of a token reinforcement so that the results would reflect only its impact on a child’s behavior. Second, it is stressed that the differentiation between reinforcement and motivation efforts would also benefit the considerations of supporting children’s skill acquisition and learning. In general, these perspectives seem to relevant to the current state of the problem as the teachers of children with autism still encounter challenges in interacting with them and stimulating them to learn and reveal their knowledge.
Fiske, K. E., Isenhower, R. W., Bamond, M. J., Delmolino, L., Sloman, K. N., & LaRue, R. H. (2015). Assessing the value of token reinforcement for individuals with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 48(2), 448-453.