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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Kenneth L. Beauchamp

First Committee Member

Gary N. Howells

Second Committee Member

Michael Davis


Intellectually normal young children learn to request absent but needed objects which they are able to name. The primary focus of my study of child language in context was to assess the motivational effect of operation or stimulus preference on Lhe rate of toy request acquisition and the formation of stimulus classes (stimulus equivalences) . Of 13 21- to 37- month-old day-care children screened for generalized request responses (novel requests) , 1 girl and 4 boys participated in the training program because they were unable to request. Two of 4 children who completed training showed some support for the effect of preference for two two-stimulus operations on request response acquisition. All 4 children emitted novel requests to generalization probes following request acquisition criterion for one most and one least preferred stimulus. Preference had no observable effect on generalization of requesting to untrained stimuli. Additionally, I assessed and compared the cognitive-linguistic and adaptive-social maturity of those 5 children who were unable and those 8 who were able to request during preliminary request screening.

The trained children tended to have a greater difference between their measured receptive and expressive language skills, and also they tended to have slightly lower scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales: Communication, Daily Living Skills, Socialization, and Motor Skills Domains. I also tested the efficacy of a natural language paradigm using a distributed skills trial sequence with interspersed trials of known-items as an extension of Tidwell's (1986) matching-to-sample, errorless learning procedure. Four within-subject replications of successful operation, name, and request acquisition are reported across 8 operations in support of his response chain methodology. I suggest that a battery of most of the developmental measures and request screening and training procedures tested in my study might be used by behavioral interventionists to assess and remediate delayed and/or inappropriate requesting among young normally developing children in a day-care setting.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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