PRE-TRAINING EFFECTS ON ABILITY OF RETARDED TO LEARN LANGUAGE SKILLS
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The ability to learn novel behaviors as a result of observing a model is dependent on certain pre-requisite attentional and cognitive skills. Severely retarded children suffer deficits in these skills and traditionally have not been able to learn new skills using modeling techniques. This study demonstrates that when these deficits are remediated through pretraining programs, the severely retarded are able to benefit from teaching programs based on modeling. Five programs, each comprised of different combinations of attention, cognition, and imitation training were studied in relation to their effects on the subsequent ability to learn by observing a model. This study further demonstrates that the specific program of attention and cognitive training produces the best results.;Thirty-six severely retarded children were selected to be subjects, and were divided into six groups. All groups were evenly matched on (mean) IQ scores, age, and pre-test scores on attention, cognitive, and receptive language skills. Five of the groups received either attention, cognitive, imitation, or a combination training program. The sixth group (control), did not receive training. Upon completion of the training programs, an attempt was made to teach all thrty-six subjects to respond to twenty novel receptive language commands using a modeling procedure. The changes in performance between pre- and post-training scores (on language commands) was studied and the relative effectiveness of each of the training procedures was analyzed.;The results of the study indicate that remedial training in attention and cognitive skills is effective in preparing severely retarded children to learn through modeling. All of the training groups (except Imitation Only) performed better on the final modeling task than did the control group. Of the five training groups, Attention and Cognitive appeared to be the most effective as a training procedure.
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