Use of musical reinforcement to improve practice behaviors of competitive swimmers / by K. Michelle Hume.
Hume, K. Michelle.
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The rationale for the study was to determine if music could be used as an effective reinforcer for increasing appropriate practice behaviors, and reduce problem behaviors in the competitive swimming environment. The effects of musical reinforcement were examined with six competitive swimmers. The swimmers were selected by the coach as individuals who did not consistently make effective use of practice sessions. The swimmers were randomly assigned to either a contingent reinforcement group or a noncontingent reinforcement group. A reversal replication ABAB design, was used to compare the groups to standard coaching prodecures. A portable stereo cassette unit was used to present instances of contingent and noncontingent musical reinforcement during the treatment phases. During the noncontingent reinforcement phase, music was presented to the swimmers regardless of the behaviors emitted during the dry land training sessions. Music was only presented in the contingent reinforcement phase if 20 percent of appropriate behaviors was achieved. Differences in performance levels during the contingent and noncontingent phases were recorded and compared. Since the experimental design in this study was based on the steady state method, departures from the baseline were used to evaluate the treatment. Results indicated that there was a large and immediate effect shown during the contingent reinforcement conditions for all subjects when compared to the baseline phases. Slight improvements were noted during the noncontingent phase for two of the subjects, however a much larger and more consistent effect was demonstrated with these subjects when they were later switched to the contingent phase. At the conclusion of the study, social validation questionnaires were distributed to the swimmers and the coach. The questionnaires asked the athletes and coach to evaluate the goals, procedures and results produced by the intervention. Social validation measures indicated that 3 out of 4 subjects rated the procedure positively, felt the procedure improved the dry land training period and wished to have the procedures continued in the future. Data suggests possible benefits of using a musical reinforcement condition might be obtained in other sports settings and could be investigated further. The results of this study suggest that the contingent reinforcement condition produced improved time usage during the dry land training sessions. Results indicated an increase in the percentages of appropriate behaviors per session and a decrease in the frequency of inappropriate behaviors occurred when the independent variable was applied.