ERIC Number: ED210576
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
The Function of Direct and Vicarious Reinforcement in Human Learning.
Owens, Carl R.; And Others
The role of reinforcement has long been an issue in learning theory. The effects of reinforcement in learning were investigated under circumstances which made the information necessary for correct performance equally available to reinforced and nonreinforced subjects. Fourth graders (N=36) were given a pre-test of 20 items from the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, selected to be above the subjects' ability level. Subjects were randomly assigned to four treatment groups as either performers or observers. A performer and an observer were paired for a learning session. For half of the pairs, the performer was reinforced after each correct choice. For the other pairs, no reinforcement was given. All subjects could look up correct answers. Ten days later subjects were given a post-test on the 20 items and received a nickel for each correct choice. Analysis of pre-test to post-test improvement in number of correct items revealed significant learning for all groups. Differential treatment effects examined in a two-way analysis of covariance performed on post-test scores yielded no significant effects of either reinforcement or degree of participation. Results suggest that when relevant information is equally available under reinforcement and nonreinforcement procedures, subjects learn equally well under each procedure. (Author/NRB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association (27th, Houston, TX, April 16-18, 1981).