Noncontingent Reinforcement

Study: Waller & Higbee (2010)

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 (Brent) was classified with emotional disturbance and reported by teacher to engage in highly disruptive behavior. Participant 2 (David) was classified with a specific learning disability and reported by teacher to engage in highly disruptive behavior. Topographies of disruptive behavior included talking out without permission, inappropriate hand gestures, making noises, playing with or throwing objects, or getting out of seat without permission.

Demographics:

 

Age/ Grade

Gender

Race-ethnicity

Socioeconomic status

Disability Status

ELL status

Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics

Case 1: Brent

13 Years Old/ 8th Grade

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Emotional Disturbance

Not Reported

Student was in self-contained classroom in a public junior high school

Case 2: David

14 Years Old/ 8th Grade

Male

Not Reported

Not Reported

Specific Learning Disability

Not Reported

Student was in self-contained classroom in a public junior high school

Training of Instructors: A special education paraprofessional employed by the school district conducted all sessions. The first author (researcher) trained her to conduct the functional analysis and treatment sessions through modeling, practice, and feedback. (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: Fidelity data 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-rater agreement was calculated as the number of 10-s intervals with agreement divided by the number of intervals with agreements plus disagreements and converting the ratio to a percentage. Inter-rater agreement data were collected on disruptive behavior during 42% and 49% of sessions for Brent and David, respectively. Mean agreement for both participants was above 95% Topographies of disruptive behavior included talking out without permission, inappropriate hand gestures, making noises, playing with or throwing objects, or getting out of seat without permission. These behaviors are considered relevant to the program focus.  N/A
Percentage of intervals with appropriate academic behavior Inter-rater agreement was calculated as the number of 10-s intervals with agreement divided by the number of intervals with agreements plus disagreements and converting the ratio to a percentage. Inter-rater agreement data were collected on appropriate academic behavior during 40% and 49% of sessions for Brent and David, respectively. Mean agreement for both participants was above 95% Appropriate academic behavior was defined as writing on the worksheet, operating the calculator, and raising hand and asking questions related to the assignment. 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: 

For Participant 1 (Brent), levels of disruptive behavior were high and variable during baseline, and immediately decreased (and were less variable) when the FT intervention was introduced. When the FT intervention was withdrawn, levels of disruptive behavior immediately increased (and were more variable). When the FT intervention was reintroduced and the schedule was thinned, levels of disruptive behavior immediately decreased and remained at or under 10% (with the exception of three sessions). The FT schedule was thinned from 23 seconds to 240 seconds during the B’ condition. Appropriate academic behavior was not measured during the initial baseline condition for Brent, thus there were only 2 opportunities to demonstrate an effect for this variable. During the first 6 sessions of the FT intervention condition, levels of appropriate academic behavior were highly variable (15-90%). During the next 6 sessions, however, levels of appropriate behavior remained high and relatively stable. When the FT intervention was withdrawn, levels of appropriate academic behavior decreased but were variable (only 3 sessions in this condition). When the FT intervention was reintroduced, level of appropriate academic behavior immediately increased and remained above 85% with the exception of 4 sessions.

For Participant 2 (David), levels of disruptive behavior ranged from 0-45% during baseline but with an increasing trend. When the FT intervention was introduced, levels of disruptive behavior immediately decreased and remained stable at or below 10%. When the FT intervention was withdrawn, levels of disruptive behavior immediately increased to around 35-40% and remained relatively stable across three sessions. When the FT intervention was reintroduced, levels of disruptive behavior immediately decreased and remained at or below 10% as the schedule was thinned from 106 seconds to 300 seconds. Appropriate academic behavior was measured across all four phases for David. Levels of appropriate academic behavior ranged from 50-100% during the initial baseline condition, but with a decreasing trend. Following the introduction of the FT intervention, levels of appropriate academic behavior immediately increased and remained near 100% for all sessions except the last session of the condition (60%). When the FT intervention was withdrawn, however, level of appropriate academic behavior remained at 100% across the three baseline sessions. When the FT intervention was reintroduced, levels of appropriate academic behavior remained high.

In summary, data indicate a function relation between the FT reinforcement schedule and percentage of intervals with disruptive behavior, but there is not sufficient data to indicate a functional relation between the FT reinforcement schedule and appropriate academic behavior (only 2 demonstrations for Brent and a failure to reverse during the second baseline condition for David). 

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.