A comparison of methods to reduce classroom behavior problems maintained by negative reinforcement

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ron P. Edwards

Advisor Department



After an in-class functional analysis conducted on the disruptive classroom behavior of 3 first grade students determined their behavior to be maintained by negative reinforcement in the form of escape from academic task demands, 3 intervention components were evaluated for their effectiveness at reducing the problem behaviors. Differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior (DNRA), differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI), and noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) were evaluated during an intervention component analysis (ICA) in a multielement design. For 1 participant, NCR reduced problem behavior more than the other components. For 2 participants, the level of problem behavior was undifferentiated during the ICA and teacher completed IRP-15s (Martens, Witt, Elliott, & Darveaux, 1985) determined that DRI components were more acceptable to each teacher. Therefore, the problem behavior of 2 participants was evaluated using DRI. Both the NCR and DRI interventions were evaluated in ABAB designs that demonstrated each intervention to be successful in reducing classroom behavior problems maintained by negative reinforcement. Treatment integrity was high for each component in the ICA, and for each phase in each intervention. The results extend a growing literature in which positive reinforcement of behaviors other than the negatively reinforced targeted problem behaviors have led to collateral decreases in the problem behaviors. The treatment Ra acceptability for intervention components used in the ICA varied by intervention component. All DRI interventions were rated as acceptable as DNRA and NCR components were rated as unacceptable by all 3 teachers. These differences in intervention component palatability were substantial even in light of relatively small differences in effectiveness. Classroom interventions for negatively reinforced behaviors, treatment integrity, treatment acceptability, and future directions for continued research are discussed.