Noncontingent Reinforcement

Study: Tomlin & Reed (2012)

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: Partially Convincing Evidence

Risk Status: Participant 1 (NJO) had been identified as having emotional and/or behavioral disorder by an educational psychologist. Participant 2 (NJE) had been identified as having emotional and/or behavioral disorder by an educational psychologist and had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy by a pediatrician. Both Participants 1 and 2 had statements of special education needs from their local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning with a low reading ability. Participant 3 (JR) was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and Participant 4 (JS) was diagnosed on the autism spectrum by a pediatrician. Participants 3 and 4 had been formally assessed by an educational psychologist and had statements of special education needs from their local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning. Topographies of disruptive behavior included verbal disruptions for Participants 1, 2, and 4; and disrupting a lesson by playing, grabbing, or touching items during a lesson without being asked to do so, or refusing to hand back an object for more than 7 s on request of the teacher for Participant 3.

Demographics:

 

Age/ Grade

Gender

Race-ethnicity

Socioeconomic status

Disability Status

ELL status

Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics

Case 1: NJO

14 Years Old

Not Reported

Not Reported

Not Reported

Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorder

Not Reported

Statements of special education needs from local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning with a low reading ability (equivalent to children between 8 and 9 years of age)

Case 2: NJE

14 Years Old

Not Reported

Not Reported

Not Reported

Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorder; Cerebral Palsy

Not Reported

Statements of special education needs from local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning with a low reading ability (equivalent to children between 8 and 9 years of age)

Case 3: JR

7 Years Old

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Down Syndrome

Not Reported

Had been formally assessed by an educational psychologist and had statements of special education needs from their local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning

Case 4: JS

5 Years Old

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Not Reported

Had been formally assessed by an educational psychologist and had statements of special education needs from their local education authority as having below average intellectual functioning


Training of Instructors: Either classroom teachers or learning support assistants (LSAs) implemented the intervention. They were cued using a preset vibrating timer (the Invisible Clock II©) as to when to administer social attention to the individual student. Prior to conducting the FT reinforcement schedule, the teachers and LSA practiced delivering FT schedules of attention on another child in the class. Practice sessions continued until the teacher/LSA felt comfortable with the procedure and ready to continue with the actual participant. The FT schedules were always preset on the vibrating timers by the researcher and were then used to prompt the teacher/LSA to administer social attention to the student. 

Design: Partially 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? No

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? Yes

 

Implemented with Fidelity: Unconvincing Evidence

Description of when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Fidelity measures were not collected.

Results on the fidelity of treatment implementation measure: N/A.

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Targeted Measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program focus

Exposure to related support among control group

Percentage of intervals with disruptive behavior

Inter-observer agreement (number of intervals with agreement divided by the total number of intervals); collected during at least 20% of sessions per participants and across all conditions; means per participant were 97.5% (range, 93-100%), 96% (range, 85-100%), 97% (range, 94-100%), and 95% (range, 90-100%); Cohen’s Kappa values were .84 (range, 0.78-1.0), .89 (range, 0.75-1.0), .90 (range, 0.76-1.0), and 0.85 (range, 0.71-1.0) Topographies of disruptive behavior included verbal disruptions for Participants 1, 2, and 4; disrupting a lesson by playing, grabbing, or touching items during a lesson without being asked to do so, or refusing to hand back an object for more than 7 s on request of the teacher for Participant 3. 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): Partially 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 participants, levels of disruptive behavior were relatively high and variable during the baseline condition. Following each condition change to the fixed time (FT) schedule, levels of problem behavior immediately decreased, were less variable, and remained at lower levels relative to baseline (despite overlap between baseline and FT conditions). Vertical analysis supports independence among tiers (participants). Following the change to the schedule thinning condition, levels of problem behavior were similar to the FT condition for Participant 1 (NJO), remained similar in level but revealed a potential increasing trend for Participant 2 (NJE), temporarily increased then stabilized at levels lower than the FT condition for Participant 3 (JR), and remained similar in level to the FT condition for Participant 4 (JS). 

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.