Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Raymond G. Miltenberger

Keywords

Children, Contingencies, Exercise, Goals, Reinforcers, Step Count

Abstract

Physical activity is important for children as many children are considered overweight or obese. The benefits of exercise have been demonstrated in empirical studies across all age ranges (Horne, Hardman, Lowe, & Rowlands, 2009; Kelly et al., 2004; Louie & Chan, 2003; Southard & Southard, 2006). In the current study, a multiple baseline design across participants was used to assess the effectiveness of goal setting, reinforcement contingencies, and pedometers that provide feedback to increase step count of 5 participants. During baseline each participant wore a sealed pedometer to assess the average steps the participants took per day. After baseline, each participant, researcher, and parent set a reasonable goal of steps to achieve per day in order to receive a specific reinforcer chosen by the parent and participant. A behavioral contract stated the specific goal number of steps for the day and the specific reinforcer they would receive. At the end of each day before the child went to bed, the parent recorded the number of steps and provided the child with feedback about whether reinforcement was earned. Data collection for four of the five participants showed a mean increase in steps taken per day during intervention 1 in comparison to baseline levels. Participants met their goal step counts during intervention 1 on 12%, 35%, 50%, 71% and 76% of days. All three participants that participated in intervention 2 increased their mean count from both baseline and intervention 1 levels. Participants met their goal step counts during intervention 2 on 62%, 100%, and 100% of days. Two participants participated in the follow up phase of the study; both participants maintained their goals from intervention 2 and completed their goal step count on 100% of days.

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