SABA 2023 Innovative Student Research, Master’s Thesis: Molly Mattes

Molly Mattes is the primary student investigator for the project entitled “Evaluating the Effects of Learning New Targets During Follow-Up on Maintenance of Mastered contribute to relapse of avoidance using reinforcement Targets.” Due to the importance of maintenance, behavior-analytic researchers have evaluated the effects of modifying variables during teaching on maintenance (e.g., mastery criteria; Fuller & Fienup, 2018). However, little research has evaluated how the frequency and timing of practice opportunities following mastery affects maintenance. An equal distribution involves regular follow-up sessions occurring at constant intervals (Fuller & Fienup, 2018; Longino et al., 2021). Progressively increasing distribution involves practicing a skill more often immediately following mastery and gradually increasing the intervals between sessions (Sigafoos et al., 2005). This study’s purpose is twofold. The first purpose is to compare levels of performance (labeling arbitrary shapes) across two follow-up session arrangements (equal and progressively increasing). The second purpose is to evaluate the impact of learning new targets (i.e., learning to label three new arbitrary shapes) on levels of performance for previously acquired targets. Participants will be college-aged students who will learn an arbitrary tacting task using three sets of three arbitrary shapes and names. Each set of targets will be assigned to a follow-up session arrangement (equal, progressively increasing, or control). Following mastery of the initial three target sets, participants will begin a 60-day follow-up phase. Participants will return for two additional trainings that will occur 14 days and 28 days following the initial training. During each additional training, participants will learn one new set of novel targets. Levels of performance (correct labeling of arbitrary shapes) will be measured and compared before and after each additional training.
Molly Mattes is responsible for creating all study materials, conducting all training and follow-up sessions, training other members of the research team, and graphing and analyzing all participant data. The funds from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Innovative Student Research Grant will help to provide the necessary technology for this study as well as fund travel expenses to the 2024 ABAI Annual Convention so that Molly can disseminate the results of this research.

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