Noncontingent Reinforcement

Study: Rasmussen & O’Neill (2006)

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: Convincing Evidence

Risk Status: Each child had been identified in public school settings as having emotional or behavioral disorders that led to their referral to the day-treatment program. Verbal disruption topographies included singing out loud, talking to a peer while the teacher was talking, or talking out without first raising hand.

Demographics:

 

Age/ Grade

Gender

Race-ethnicity

Socioeconomic status

Disability Status

ELL status

Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics

Case 1: Josh

12 Years Old

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Bipolar Disorder

Not Reported

At least average intellectual functioning; no history of learning disabilities

Case 2: Mike

12 Years Old

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Bipolar Disorder

Not Reported

At least average intellectual functioning; no history of learning disabilities

Case 3: Chad

8 Years Old

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Anxiety Disorder

Not Reported

At least average intellectual functioning; no history of learning disabilities

Training of Instructors: Interventionist was a certified special education teacher. No additional information is provided.

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: Unconvincing Evidence

Description of when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: No information is provided on fidelity of treatment.

Results on the fidelity of treatment implementation measure: Not reported.

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Targeted Measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program focus

Exposure to related support among control group

Percentage of 10-s intervals with verbal disruptions

Inter-observer agreement (number of 10-s intervals with agreements divided by number of agreements plus disagreements, multiplied by 100%) was collected on a minimum of 20% of sessions across participants and study phases; Mean agreement per participant was 93% (range, 83-100%) for Josh, 97% (range, 94-100%) for Mike, and 93% (range, 88-97%) for Chad Verbal disruption topographies included singing out loud, talking to a peer while the teacher was talking, or talking out without first raising hand. 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

Results in terms of within and between phase patterns: Across the three participants, the percentage of intervals with verbal disruptions was relatively high and variable during the first baseline phase (A1). When the NCR condition was introduced (B1), levels immediately decreased to zero or near-zero. During the B1 condition, levels were less variable and consistently lower relative to the A1 phase. When the NCR condition was withdrawn (A2), levels immediately increased and were more variable throughout this phase. When the NCR condition was reintroduced (B2), levels of disruptive behavior immediately decreased and remained low and stable. During the final B’ phase in which the fixed time schedule was thinned, levels of verbal disruptions temporarily increased for Josh (Case 1), but then decreased to stable and near-zero levels. Only 2 and 3 sessions were conducted in B’ for Mike and Chad, respectively, although levels remained relatively low (with a possible increasing trend for Chad).

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.