Punishment improves discrimination learning, and programmed instruction is an elaborate form of discrimination training, so the present experiment assessed whether punishment also improves performance on programmed instruction. The cost of such improvement in terms of increased training time and dissatisfaction of subjects also was assessed. Three college students completed a computerized version of Holland and Skinner's (1961) programmed text. One subject received a two-component multiple schedule within a reversal design, and two subjects received the same two-component multiple-schedule without a return-to-baseline phase. During baseline, subjects received 5¢ for each frame completed, regardless of whether responses were correct or incorrect. Multiple-schedule conditions were either baseline conditions or a loss of 5¢ for each incorrect response (punishment). Punishment improved performance by 10%, increased training time by 15%, and did not affect reported satisfaction. The most likely mechanisms for this improved performance are that punishment increased study time or the salience of stimuli. This experiment showed that punishment can improve performance by one letter grade without subject dissatisfaction or significantly increasing training time.
Munson, Kevin J. and Crosbie, John
"Effects of Response Cost in Computerized Programmed Instruction,"
The Psychological Record: Vol. 48
, Article 3.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol48/iss2/3