Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. D. Joe Olmi

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Lauren E. McKinley

Committee Member 3

Dr. Brad A. Dufrene

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Keith C. Radley, III

Committee Member 4 School



The current study evaluated the effects of a positive and negative reinforcement contingency on teachers’ use of behavior specific praise (BSP) in the educational setting. An alternating treatments design was used across four participants in a rural, Southern elementary to determine if one or both conditions was successful in increasing the use of BSP. Data were collected on teachers’ use of BSP, general praise, general reprimands, and behavior specific reprimands (BSR). Additionally, student engagement in academically-associated and/or disruptive behaviors was measured throughout baseline, treatment, and follow-up phases. Results indicate both the positive and negative reinforcement contingency were successful in improving teachers’ use of BSP. Levels of academic engagement also increased while disruptive behaviors decreased as a result of increased rates of praise. The present study is discussed in terms of both the relevant literature and future research.