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Increasing Requests For Information By Preschoolers With And Without Language-Based Disabilities

JeanneMarie Speckman, Lin Du, R. Douglas Greer

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We report two experiments on the emission of questions to request the names of unfamiliar stimuli by preschoolers. In the first experiment, 19 preschoolers with and without disabilities served as participants. Experiment 1 was a descriptive analysis of whether or not the 19 participants asked questions about unfamiliar pictures and objects in one-to-one and group settings. These were dependent variables in the second experiment as well. Four participants, who did not ask any questions in the first experiment, served as participants in the second experiment. During the intervention, the participants observed the peer confederates (1) ask questions (e.g., “What is that?”), (2) receive information from the experimenter, and (3) receive praise and tokens contingent on asking a question. A multiple probe design across participants was used. The data showed that the participants increased the number of questions when we returned to baseline conditions. Results are discussed in terms of where the reinforcement exists for asking questions about unfamiliar things in one’s environment, and whether this truly measures the “need to know”.