Noncontingent Reinforcement

Study: Ingvarrson, Kahng, & Hausman (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: Convincing Evidence

Risk Status: The participant had been admitted to an inpatient unit for the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior. She had been diagnosed with autism, mild cerebral palsy, moderate intellectual disability, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her problem behavior consisted of aggression (hitting, scratching, pinching, biting, throwing objects at others, kicking, and pushing), disruption (banging on objects, swiping objects off surfaces, throwing, breaking, or damaging/destroying objects), and self-injury (hitting or attempting to hit her head on hard surfaces, hitting herself with her hand or an object, self biting). 

Demographics:

 

Age/ Grade

Gender

Race-ethnicity

Socioeconomic status

Disability Status

ELL status

Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics

Case 1: Manuela

8 years old

Female

Not reported

Not reported

Autism; mild cerebral palsy; moderate intellectual disability; obsessive compulsive disorder

Not reported

Limited communication skills (occasionally communicated using single words and short phrases)

Training of Instructors: Not reported, although therapists consisted of staff members/therapists in an inpatient behavior unit (not explicitly stated by authors, but they were likely trained to provide various behavioral assessments and interventions).

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? Yes

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 scored the rate of therapist vocal instructions and delivery of edible reinforcers. Inter-observer agreement was collected on edible item delivery during 38% of sessions and was 95% (range, 90-100%).

Results on the fidelity of treatment implementation measure: Edibles per minute were graphed during each NCR condition and showed that edibles per minute were consistently higher in the high-density NCR condition (1.5-2.0 per min) relative to the low-density NCR condition. 

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Targeted Measure

Reliability statistics

Relevance to program focus

Exposure to related support among control group

Problem behavior per minute

Inter-observer agreement data were collected during 38% of sessions and calculated by determining proportional agreement within 10-s intervals and calculating a mean for the intervals for each session. Mean agreement was 99% (range, 90-100%) for problem behavior. Aggression included hitting, scratching, pinching, biting, throwing objects at others, kicking, and pushing. Disruption included banging on objects, swiping objects off surfaces, throwing, breaking, or damaging/destroying objects. Self-injury included hitting or attempting to hit her head on hard surfaces, hitting herself with her hand or an object, and self biting. These behaviors are considered relevant to the program focus. N/A
Percentage compliance Inter-observer agreement data were collected during 38% of sessions and calculated by determining proportional agreement within 10-s intervals and calculating a mean for the intervals for each session. Mean agreement was 97% (range, 92-100%) for compliance. Compliance was defined as task completions following vocal instructions and model prompts. This behavior is 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: During the initial baseline condition (demand condition), rates of problem behavior were moderately high and variable. When the high-and low-density NCR schedules were introduced, rates of problem behavior decreased within the first two sessions and were less variable. When the NCR schedules were withdrawn, rates of problem behavior immediately increased and were highly variable. When each NCR schedule was reintroduced, rates of problem behavior were at zero (high-density schedule) and near-zero (low-density schedule).

Percentage of compliance immediately increased and was less variable during the first introduction of the NCR schedules. When NCR was withdrawn, compliance decreased and was variable. When each NCR schedule was reintroduced, compliance increased, was less variable, and showed an increasing trend for the low-density NCR schedule.

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.