Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #485
CE Offered: BACB
Arranging Classroom Contingencies to Maximize Student Engagement and Task Completion While Minimizing Escape-Motivated Behavior
Monday, May 29, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center 403/404
Area: EDC/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Edward J. Daly (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Discussant: Christopher Skinner (The Univesity of Tennessee)
CE Instructor: Edward J. Daly, Ph.D.

Teachers essentially have students turn their attention from whatever they are doing prior to instruction to present instructional tasks that are effortful and difficult. For many students, the suddenly imposed demands frequently evoke some behaviors that interfere with student learning and make it difficult for the teacher to teach. At the same time, these task demands frequently do not evoke the kinds of desired behaviors that are conducive to student learning. Managing the contingencies to promote appropriate task engagement and completion while minimizing classroom disruptions can be very challenging. Four studies will be presented that examined a variety of consequence-based and antecedent strategies to increase desired classroom behavior and decrease disruptive behavior. Specifically, the studies examined the effects of (a) different reinforcement schedules on math-problem completion using a token-based reinforcement system, (b) adding differential negative reinforcement to an instructional package to increase revisions in self-generated writing samples; (c) contingent negative reinforcement on problem behavior maintained by escape during instruction; and (d) combining demand-fading and choice making on task completion and aggression. The results will be discussed in terms of arranging classroom contingencies to maximize student engagement and task completion while minimizing escape-motivated behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Demand fading, Negative reinforcement, Token economies, Writing revision

Comparing the Effects of Fixed-Ratio and Variable-Interval Reinforcement Schedules on Problem Completion During Math

BRITTANY PENNINGTON (University of Minnesota), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota), Jessica J. Simacek (University of Minnesota)

When teachers implement point- or token- based classroom reinforcement systems, they must make decisions about how to deliver the point or tokens. One important consideration is on what schedule teachers should deliver points, but few studies have evaluated the effects of different schedules of reinforcement in classroom settings. In this study, we used an alternating treatments design to compare the effects of the two reinforcement schedules that would be easy for teachers to implement in the classroom, variable interval (VI 60-s) and fixed ratio (FR 5), on math fact completion and on-task behavior for three third-grade students. Students exchanged two points for a backup reinforcer in both conditions, and point distribution rate was designed to ensure the amount of reinforcement was similar across conditions in order to isolate the schedule. The study was conducted during a math center in the students classroom while regular classroom activities continued. Although results varied somewhat across participants, the fixed-ratio schedule maintained a higher rate of responding with less variability compared to the variable-interval schedule for all participants. Results are discussed in terms of optimizing point- or token-based classroom management systems, with suggestions for evaluating persistence of responding in future studies.

The Impact of Negative Reinforcement Contingent on Revision on Students’ Writing: Can Writing Less Lead to Writing More?
JILL HOLTZ (University of Nebraska--Lincoln), Pooja Parikh (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Cassandra Renee Dietrich (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Nathan Speer (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Abstract: This study examined the impact of negative reinforcement contingent on revision added to an instructional package consisting of positive reinforcement and prompting on the revising behavior of high school students. A multiple-baseline across participants consisting of two cohorts of three participants each was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Prior to baseline, participants were screened for basic writing skills. Programmed reinforcers were validated. During baseline, participants were instructed to revise a previously written composition using a prompt and to write a story. After completing both tasks, students were provided access to a reinforcer. After stable baselines were achieved for each participant, negative reinforcement contingencies for revising were introduced. Students were instructed that they could escape writing a story contingent upon making a criterion number of revisions to their compositions. Results demonstrated that the intervention increased students’ number of attempted revisions, correct revisions, and unique revisions but suggested differential responding patterns for accuracy. Results are discussed in terms of performance deficits in revising, individual differences in students’ writing skills, implications for intervention in revision, and general contingencies of reinforcement in the classroom. Discussion focuses on the need for future research on intervention components to increase students’ revising behavior.
Functional Communication Training and Demand Fading Using Choice Making
TONYA NICHOLE DAVIS (Baylor University), Regan Weston (Baylor University), Abby Hodges (Baylor University), Lauren Uptegrove (Baylor University), Kristen Williams (Baylor University), Kelly M. Schieltz (The University of Missouri)
Abstract: Demand fading typically includes an escape extinction component, which can be difficult to implement due to extinction bursts and the inability to continue task presentation due to the nature of challenging behavior. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of demand fading with choice making, rather than extinction, for a 7-year old male participant diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulated disorder. The participant consistently engaged in severe, escape-maintained aggression when presented with academic tasks. First a functional communication response (FCR) was trained so the participant could request breaks. Functional communication training was followed by demand fading to systematically increase the amount of work completed between break requests. During demand fading, aggression and requests emitted prior to meeting the task completion criterion were reinforced with short, low-quality breaks, but requests emitted following task completion criterion were reinforced with long, high-quality breaks. As the task completion criterion increased, percentage of problem behavior decreased and FCR rates dropped to socially appropriate levels. Results suggest that choice making may be an effective alternative to extinction as a component of demand fading.
Effects of Negative Reinforcement for Task Completion on Problem Behavior Maintained by Negative Reinforcement
KELLY M. SCHIELTZ (The University of Missouri), Alyssa N. Suess (Trinity Health), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Jessica Schwartz (University of Iowa), Nicole H. Lustig (Seattle Children's Hospital), Jessica Detrick (University of Missouri), Kristin Hathaway (University of Missouri )
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of contingent negative reinforcement for task completion on problem behavior maintained by escape. Jake was a second grader who was diagnosed with ADHD, a language disorder, and specific learning disorders in math, reading, and written expression. Academic instruction was provided at the first grade level. Primary behavioral concerns were noncompliance, self-injury, complaining, and negative vocalizations when asked to complete academic tasks. All procedures were conducted one time per week on an outpatient basis across 5 mo and focused on math. Phase 1 was conducted within a reversal design to determine the occurrence of problem behavior with and without contingent positive reinforcement for task accuracy. Phase 2 was conducted within a multielement design embedded within a reversal design to determine the effects of instructional strategies with and without contingent negative reinforcement for task completion on problem behavior. Results (Figure 1) showed that problem behavior occurred at higher levels when positive reinforcement was provided for task accuracy and when instructional strategies were provided in isolation. In contrast, problem behavior decreased to lower levels when contingent negative reinforcement was paired with the instructional strategies. Results will be discussed in terms of motivating operations.



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