Noncontingent Reinforcement

Study: Austin & Soeda (2008)

Study Type: Single-Subject Design

Descriptive Information Usage Acquisition and Cost Program Specifications and Requirements Training

Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is a function-based treatment for problem behavior that consists of (a) identifying the reinforcer maintaining problem behavior and (b) delivering that reinforcer independent of problem behavior (usually according to a fixed or variable time schedule).

Noncontingent reinforcement is intended for use in Kindergarten through high school. It is intended for use with students with disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional or behavioral disabilities, and any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties.

The area of focus is externalizing behavior, which includes: physical aggression, property destruction, noncompliance, high levels of disengagement, disruptive behavior, and self-injury.

Noncontingent reinforcement is a non-commercial intervention and, therefore, does not have a formal pricing plan. All that is required for implementation is student-specific reinforcers (e.g., adult attention, preferred items/activities) and a timing device. No costs are associated with implementation of noncontingent reinforcement. 

Noncontingent reinforcement is designed for use with individual students. Only one interventionist is needed to implement the program.

Program administration varies depending on program procedures. It should be implemented until effective; most common session duration was 10 minutes with multiple sessions occurring per day.

The program does not include highly specified teacher manuals or instructions for implementation.

The program is not affiliated with a broad school or class wide management program.

The only technology required, if any, is some form of timing/cuing device (e.g., Motivaider, stopwatch, timer on mobile device).

Training is required for the interventionist. Training procedures were not consistently described, though likely include (a) a brief explanation of the rationale for NCR, (b) review of any programmed procedures to avoid accidental reinforcement of inappropriate behavior (e.g., 10-second delay to reinforcer delivery if problem behavior occurs when the timer goes off), and (c) practice implementing NCR with a timing/cueing device. 

This training can likely be done in less than one hour.

The interventionist must at a minimum be a paraprofessional.

Training manuals and materials are not available and there is no ongoing support available for practitioners. 

 

Participants: Unconvincing Evidence

Risk Status: Participant 1 (Andrew) had been identified as having a specific learning disability and received 140 min of resource specialist program services weekly for reading (and engaged in frequent off-task behavior as reported by teacher). Participant 2 (David) was classified as a general education student and was not receiving special education services but was identified by his teacher as engaging in frequent off-task behavior. Off-task behavior was defined as calling out or engaging in one of the following behaviors for more than 3 seconds: coloring or drawing not appropriate to the assigned task, talking with peers, taking one’s eyes off the teacher or task, or getting out of one’s seat.

Demographics:

 

Age/ Grade

Gender

Race-ethnicity

Socioeconomic status

Disability Status

ELL status

Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics

Case 1: Andrew

9 years old / 3rd grade

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Specific Learning Disability

Not Reported

Received 140 minutes per week of resource specialist program services for reading

Case 2: David

8 years old/ 3rd grade

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Specific Learning Disability

Not Reported

Classified as general education student and did not receive special education services

Training of Instructors: Prior to treatment implementation, the first author (researcher) briefly explained the rationale and procedures for NCR. A Motivaider device was used to provide a vibratory cue to the teacher every 4 min during NCR sessions. No additional information is reported.

Design: Convincing Evidence

Does the study include three data points or sufficient number to document a stable performance within that phase? Yes

Is there opportunity for at least three demonstrations of experimental control? Yes

If the study is an alternating treatment design, are there five repetitions of the alternating sequence? Not applicable

If the study is a multiple baseline, is it concurrent? Not applicable

Implemented with Fidelity: Convincing Evidence

Description of when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Observers collected data to monitor the delivery of teacher attention (minimum duration of 5 seconds) concurrently with student data using the same 10 second partial interval recording procedure during 100% of NCR treatment sessions. Interobserver agreement for treatment fidelity was assessed during 30% of NCR sessions and was 100%.

Results on the fidelity of treatment implementation measure: Across all treatment sessions, teacher implementation was 100% (i.e., teacher attention was delivered at least every 4 minutes). Errors of commission (teacher providing attention to off-task behavior during the interim of scheduled reinforcement delivery) occurred during 2% and 1% of the intervals for the first NCR phase for David and Andrew, respectively, and 0% during the second NCR phase for both participants. 

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Targeted Measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program focus

Exposure to related support among control group

Percentage of intervals with off-task behavior

Interobserver agreement data were collected during 21% of sessions across phases and calculated as the number of intervals with agreements divided by the total number of intervals and multiplying by 100%. Mean total agreement was 97% (range, 93-100%); mean occurrence agreement was 82%, and mean nonoccurrence agreement was 96%.  Off-task behavior was defined as calling out or engaging in one of the following behaviors for more than 3 seconds: coloring or drawing not appropriate to the assigned task, talking with peers, taking one’s eyes off the teacher or task, or getting out of one’s seat. These behaviors are considered relevant to the program focus. N/A

 

Broader Measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program focus

Exposure to related support among control group

N/A

 

 

 

 

Mean ES Targeted Outcomes: N/A

Mean ES Administrative Outcomes: N/A

Effect Size:

Visual Analysis (Single-Subject Designs): Convincing Evidence

Description of the method of analyses used to determine whether the intervention condition improved relative to baseline phase (e.g. visual analysis, computation of change score, mean difference): Visual inspection (with means and ranges per condition). 

Results in terms of within and between phase patterns: 

For Participant 1 (Andrew), levels of off-task behavior were moderate and slightly variable (M = 39%, range 23-47%) during the initial baseline condition. Following the introduction of the NCR condition, level of off-task behavior immediately decreased (M = 16%, range 3-26%). When the NCR intervention was withdrawn, an immediate increase in the level of off-task behavior was observed, and levels were similar to the initial baseline condition (M = 37%, range 25-49%). Following the reintroduction of the NCR intervention, levels of off-task behavior immediately decreased and revealed a decreasing trend during this condition (M = 8%, range 5-11%).

For Participant 2 (David), levels of off-task behavior were moderate and slightly variable during the initial baseline condition (M = 33%, range 25-40%). Following the introduction of the NCR intervention, levels of off-task behavior decreased slightly in the first session and further decreased and remained stable in subsequent sessions (M = 16%, range 11-23%). When the NCR condition was withdrawn, an immediate increase in the level of off-task behavior was observed, with higher rates relative to the initial baseline condition and an increasing trend (M = 48%, range 33-62%). Following reintroduction of the NCR intervention, levels of off-task behavior immediately decreased and revealed a decreasing trend during this condition (M = 9%, range 7-10%).

Disaggregated Outcome Data Available for Demographic Subgroups: No

Target Behavior(s): Externalizing

Delivery: Individuals

Fidelity of Implementation Check List Available: No

Minimum Interventionist Requirements: Paraprofessionals, Less than 1 hour of training

Intervention Reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse: No

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse.

Other Research: Potentially Eligible for NCII Review: 10 studies

Butler, L. R., & Luiselli, J. K. (2007). Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior in a Child with Autism: Antecedent Functional Analysis and Intervention Evaluation of Noncontingent Escape and Instructional Fading. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9, 195-202.

Hagopian, L. P., Crockett, J. L., van Stone, M., DeLeon, I. G., & Bowman, L. G. (2000). Effects of Noncontingent Reinforcement on Problem Behavior and Stimulus Engagement: The Role of Satiation, Extinction, and Alternative Reinforcement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 433-449.

Hanley, G. P., Piazza, C. C., & Fisher, W. W. (1997). Noncontingent Presentation of Attention and Alternative Stimuli in the Treatment of Attention-Maintained Destructive Behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 229-237.

Kodak, T., Miltenberger, R. G., & Romaniuk, C. (2003). A Comparison of Differential Reinforcement and Noncontingent Reinforcement for the Treatment of a Child’s Multiply Controlled Problem Behavior. Behavioral Interventions, 18, 267-278.

Lalli, J. S., Casey, S. D., & Kates, K. (1997). Noncontingent Reinforcement as Treatment for Severe Problem Behavior: Some Procedural Variations. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 127-137.

Lomas, J. E., Fisher, W. W., & Kelley, M. E. (2010). The Effects of Variable-Time Delivery of Food Items and Praise on Problem Behavior Reinforced by Escape. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 425-435.

Rasmussen, K., & O’Neill, R. E. (2006). The Effects of Fixed-Time Reinforcement Schedules on Problem Behavior of Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in a Day-Treatment Classroom Setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39, 453-457.

Tomlin, M., & Reed, P. (2012). Effects of Fixed-Time Reinforcement Delivered by Teachers for Reducing Problem Behavior in Special Education Classrooms. Journal of Behavioral Education, 21, 150-162.

Van Camp, C. M., Lerman, D. C., Kelley, M. E., Contrucci, S. A., & Vorndran, C. M. (2000). Variable-Time Reinforcement Schedules in the Treatment of Socially Maintained Problem Behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 545-557.

Waller, R. D., & Higbee, T. S. (2010). The Effects of Fixed-Time Escape on Inappropriate and Appropriate Classroom Behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 149-153.