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Instructive feedback is a modified version of systematic instruction that allows students to learn extra behaviors by supplying them as non-target behaviors after subsequent presentation of target behaviors. For example, a teacher would present a target stimulus, provide the opportunity for the student to respond, deliver the consequence, and then present the non-target or additional stimulus, otherwise known as the instructive feedback stimulus. This study sought to evaluate whether students would acquire the behavior of the non-target stimulus after trials of any target behavior or a specific target behavior.
It also sought to determine whether non-target behaviors were acquired during acquisition of targets behaviors or after the mastery of the target behaviors.
Although it is unclear what causes students to learn non-target behaviors when they are not asked to respond or provided reinforcement if they do, it is speculated that this is a form of incidental or observational learning that establishes a relationship between the target behaviors and the instructive feedback.
The study enabled researchers to determine if assigning instructive feedback stimuli to specific target behaviors was necessary for learning the target behavior it was paired with. It also helps determine the point at which the instructive feedback stimuli were learned and if it was reliant on mastery of the target behavior first. The multi-probe study consisted of four 11-year-old boys who were exposed to a probe and instruction condition. Target behaviors and instructive feedback behaviors were identified. For example, a target would be the outline of a state, but the instructive feedback stimuli would be words that were commonly used to describe that state.
Results indicated that the students maintained the non-target stimuli after any target stimulus. This study also suggests that instructive feedback stimuli are acquired at the same time of target behaviors, which is a strength of the literature that could be applied to our client, who demonstrates difficulties with phonological awareness, literacy, and dyslexia. Despite the fact that this study is not able to determine the causal explanation of acquisition of instructive feedback, it is a recommended intervention strategy in a direct instructional setting. Although not explicitly stated, this intervention could be speculated beneficial for improving phonological awareness and difficulties associated with dyslexia because incidental learning is common way children learn at least some aspects of new words despite brief exposure.
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