Maintenance and transfer of academic behavior in children with autism: the role of intrinsic motivation

  • Author / Creator
    Lynch, Shane Lorne
  • Educational programs for children with autism rely on the use of extrinsic rewards to increase children’s motivation to participate. However, maintenance and transfer of intervention gains remains problematic. Research with typically developing children and adults has shown that extrinsic rewards can have differing effects on intrinsic motivation. That is, the ways in which rewards are administered (reward contingency, interpersonal context) can increase, decrease, or leave an individual’s intrinsic motivation unaffected. The present research examined whether these characteristics would increase the intrinsic motivation of children with autism, and whether observed increases maintained and generalized to novel contexts. In two different studies, children with autism were given performance-based rewards for engaging in academic activities in both choice and no-choice conditions. Each correct response earned the children one token that was exchangeable for one minute of time with their preferred reward. In some conditions, children were offered opportunities to make choices during the activity, whereas in other conditions, choice making was not allowed. Results indicated that children’s intrinsic motivation for the academics was neither undermined nor enhanced following the receipt of the reward. Further, children showed a clear preference for the academic subject associated with enhanced choice. These results were discussed in terms of Skinner’s behavioral theory and cognitive evaluation theory. The limitations, as well as the practical implications, are also discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Educational Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Pierce, David (Sociology)
    • Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
    • Cameron, Judy (Educational Psychology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Harrington, Scott (College of Education)
    • McQuarrie, Lynn (Educational Psychology)
    • Sobsey, Richard (Educational Psychology)