Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

School Psychology

Major Professor

Christopher H. Skinner

Committee Members

Sherry K. Bain, Vey M. Nordquist, Amy L. Skinner

Abstract

Researchers have investigated pacing and accuracy of students’ academic work. However, studies investigating the effects pacing have mixed results regarding accuracy levels and student acceptability. Fuller, Krohn, Orsega, Skinner, and Williams (2009) conducted a pilot study examining the impact of slowing students down on their accuracy levels. Specifically, Fuller et al. (2009) had computers deliver multiplication problems one at a time. In the no-delay condition a new problem was delivered immediately after students provided an answer to the previous problem. In the delay condition, after students entered the answer to a problem there was a 7-second delay before the computer delivered the next problem. No significant differences in accuracy levels between the two conditions were found, suggesting that pacing had no effect on accuracy. However, response accuracy levels were very high, suggesting that a ceiling effect may have hindered researchers’ ability to find significant differences.

The current study extended this research on pacing by using more difficult multiplication problems. In addition, researchers have suggested that attention required to complete tasks may be a moderator variable that influences the effects of pacing on accuracy levels. However, researchers have not examined attention as a between-subjects moderator variable. The two primary purposes of this study were to investigate whether decreasing the pace of academic work by artificially inflating intertrial intervals (delay between problems) influenced mathematics performance and to determine if students’ attention levels moderated this impact. Participants were 111 fourth- and fifth-grade students who completed two sets of multiplication problems (7-second delay condition and no-delay condition). Students’ teachers completed brief attention ratings for students that were used to separate students into high and low attention problems groups.

A mixed models ANOVA revealed no significant interaction which suggests that pacing does not interact with attention and accuracy. This study fails to support preceding studies claiming that a faster pace increases accuracy levels, but it did suggest that slowing the pace of students work does not hurt performance. Results indicate that previous researchers may be wrong about the influence of pacing on accuracy levels and attention as a moderating variable.

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