Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Brad A. Dufrene

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Keith Radley

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Evan H. Dart

Committee Member 3 Department



An increasing number of preschool children exhibit challenging behavior in the classroom. Head Start children are particularly at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders due to numerous risk factors. Unfortunately, some preschool teachers are ill equipped to manage the challenging behaviors that preschool children exhibit. The current study investigated the effects of the group contingency, “Mystery Student,” on improving preschool classroom behaviors. The Mystery Student intervention is a novel, independent group contingency, with an added randomized component. An ABAB reversal design was employed to determine how effective the Mystery Student intervention was at decreasing the disruptive behaviors and increasing the appropriate behaviors in three Head Start classrooms. Results indicated that class-wide aggregate disruptive behavior was reduced and class-wide aggregate appropriate behavior increased during the intervention phases for all three classrooms. Furthermore, teachers rated the Mystery Study intervention as acceptable. Results of this study increase the limited research base on group contingencies in preschool settings, suggests independent group contingencies are developmentally appropriate for young children and may provide practitioners and teachers with an additional intervention strategy for preschool populations.