Bonnie Lynn Grossflam, Ph.D.

Advisor: Dr. Jerome Frieman
Dissertation Title

Conditional discrimination and transfer of training following errorless and trial-and-error discrimination learning in preschool children

Dissertation Abstract

Stimulus shaping, stimulus fading, and trial-and-error discrimination training procedures were used to teach a conditional discrimination (original task) in preschool children. Following training and testing on the conditional discrimination, all of the children were taught a new conditional discrimination by trial and error (transfer task). The shaping and fading groups were divided into subgroups in which either the positive (S+) or negative stimulus (S-) was gradually changed over the original training trials. During original training, stimulus shaping resulted in fewer errors than stimulus fading which in turn resulted in fewer errors than trial and error. On a criterion test of the original discrimination, the trial-and-error group performed as well as the shaping groups and both trial-and-error and shaping groups performed better than the fading groups. On the transfer task taught by trial and error, the poorest performance was demonstrated by the group originally trained with S- faded; there were no differences in performance among the other groups. There were no meaningful differences between the performance of boys and girls. These results bring into question the overall advantage of using criterion-related cues during training and the advantage of errorless over trial-and-error training procedures for teaching discriminations.

Education

Ph.D., Psychology, Kansas State University, 1983