Date of Award

Summer 8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. D. Joe Olmi

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Daniel H. Tingstrom

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Heather Sterling-Turner

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Brad Dufrene

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 5

Dr. Christopher Barry

Committee Member 5 Department

Psychology

Abstract

The effects of differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior (DNRA) were examined on the escape behavior of four 1st and 2nd grade general education students. The alternative behavior that was negatively reinforced was task engagement during reading or math periods. The DNRA treatment was evaluated for its effects on task engagement in either a DNRA with access to a preferred activity condition or a DNRA without access to a preferred activity condition. In the preferred activity condition, the participants were allowed to engage in a high preferred activity when they had been engaged with an academic task for a certain period of time. In the without access condition, participants were allowed to sit quietly or put their head down when they had been engaged with an academic task for a certain period of time.

Following a screening procedure using the FAIR-T interview, conditional probability observations, and a direct assessment of instructional performance to ensure that participants were on grade level in the academic period of concern, the effects of the intervention were analyzed using an alternating treatments design (ATD). Three conditions (DNRA with access, DNRA without access, control) were randomized, and on and off task behavior in the three conditions were compared to on and off task behavior during the baseline period. Data for all four participants indicated that the DNRA with access to a preferred activity and DNRA without access to a preferred activity conditions were equally effective in decreasing off task behavior and increasing on task behavior. The results suggest that the participants were equally as likely to stay on task to earn a break when the break was combined with an activity as when the break was not combined with an activity. Limitations of this study are discussed as well as suggestions for future directions in research involving DNRA procedures with general education students.

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