The Effect of Teacher Prompting and Contingent Attention on the Social Interactions of Kindergarten Children
Woolcock, Robyn M.
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The problem. Desegregation of public school systems has usually been accomplished by changing the ratio of minority to majority students in each building to an acceptable level. This reliance on numerical criteria as a definition of desegregation gives no assurance that interactions between minority and majority students will occur. When the interactions of the students are taken into account, a functional definition of integration becomes possible. The present study is an attempt to directly modify the frequency and topography of the interactions participated in by three kindergarten children, thereby changinq the level of functional integration within the classroom. Prooedure. Baseline data were collected on the three experimental subjects. The teacher was then sequentially instructed to differentially reinforce and prompt, when necessary, all interactions, within-race interactions, between-race interactions, and finally, all interactions. Only baseline data were collected on the normative subject. Findings. Subjects FB and FW increased their within-race interactions when all interactions or within-race interactions were prompted and reinforced. Their between-race interactions increased when they were the focus of the contingencies. MW responded similarly during the all interactions and within-race phases. However, during the between-race phase, MW's levels of within- and between-race interactions decreased or remained low and his mixed-group interactions increased. Conclusions. The interactions participated in by the experimental subjects changed to comply with the contingencies in effect during each phase. In addition, increases in interactions were seen for each subject across phases. Recommendations. Educators interested in increasing the level of functional integration in their classroom or school should: (1) focus on the interactions occurring between students and (2) utilize operant techniques such as prompting and reinforcement to increase interracial interactions among their students.