Use of constant time delay in small group instruction: A study of observational and incidental learning

Patricia Munsony Doyle, David L. Gast, Mark Wolery, Melinda Jones Ault, Jacqueline A. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This investigation examined the effectiveness and efficiency of constant time delay in small group instruction. Four secondary-age students with mild and moderate mental retardation were taught to identify local and federal service and government agencies and over-the-counter medications. The amount of information learned when each subject was presented with two target and six observational stimuli (same-task, different-stimuli condition) was compared to when each student in the group was taught the same eight target stimuli (same-task, same-stimuli condition). The subjects' acquisition of incidental information presented in the descriptive praise statement following correct responses to the target stimuli was assessed. A multiple probe design across behaviors was used. The results indicated that (a) constant time delay was effective across all facts, students, and conditions; (b) the same-task, different-stimuli condition produced more efficient learning than the same-task, same-stimuli condition; (c) students acquired more target information in the same-task, same-stimuli conditions; (d) observational learning occurred in the same-task, different-stimuli condition for all subjects; (e) increased exposure to other students' target information and differential reinforcement in the probe conditions increased the percentages of correct observational responding in the same-task, different-stimuli conditions; and (f) there were no differences between conditions in students' acquisition of incidental information. These findings are discussed in terms of strategies for designing effective and efficient small group instruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-385
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Special Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Rehabilitation


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