Date of Graduation


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The purpose of this dissertation was to evaluate the difference between two methods for presenting training stimuli, Single- and Multi-trials procedures. The former presents one stimulus in a single workspace and the latter presents many stimuli. Experiment 1 attempted to explain why Multi-trial methods sustain higher rates of responding than Single-trials. The results showed that the primary reason for the high rates of responding to Multi-trials is the presence of multiple stimuli, which allow subjects to read ahead to a consecutive stimulus while responding to a previous one. Experiment 2 evaluated the generality of the findings of previous research that suggested that training with Single-trial procedures leads to better retention of learning than training with Multi-trial procedures. Two groups of subjects were exposed to extensive practice after which they were tested for retention and application of the learned skills. The results showed that Multi-trial subjects took less time to reach the practice criterion, but no differences in retention or application between the two experimental groups. The major implications of the findings are that Multi-trials are a more efficient method for presenting training stimuli than Single-trials as they allow for the same amount of practice to be completed in less time. These implications are complicated by the fact that high rates of responding do not necessarily contribute to the effectiveness of training. In fact, there is evidence that suggests that they may even be detrimental to training effectiveness for some tasks.