Noncontingent Reinforcement
Study: Waller & Higbee (2010)

Summary

Noncontingent reinforcement 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).

Target Grades:
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Target Populations:
  • Students with disabilities only
  • Students with learning disabilities
  • Students with intellectual disabilities
  • Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
  • Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
  • Other: autism spectrum disorders
Area(s) of Focus:
  • Physical Aggression
  • Property Destruction
  • Noncompliance
  • High Levels of Disengagement
  • Disruptive Behavior
  • Other: self-injury
Where to Obtain:
N/A
Initial Cost:
Free
Replacement Cost:
Contact vendor for pricing details.

No costs are associated with implementation of noncontingent reinforcement. All that is required for implementation is student-specific reinforcers (e.g., adult attention, preferred items/activities) and a timing device.

Staff Qualified to Administer Include:
  • Special Education Teacher
  • General Education Teacher
  • Reading Specialist
  • Math Specialist
  • EL Specialist
  • Interventionist
  • Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
  • Paraprofessional
  • Other: Clinical therapists/staff
Training Requirements:
Not available (this information was not reported, but less than 1 hour is most likely)

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-s delay to reinforcer delivery if problem behavior occurs when the timer goes off), and (c) practice implementing NCR with a timing/cueing device.


N/A

Access to Technical Support:
Not available
Recommended Administration Formats Include:
  • Individual students
Minimum Number of Minutes Per Session:
Minimum Number of Sessions Per Week:
Minimum Number of Weeks:
Detailed Implementation Manual or Instructions Available:
No
Is Technology Required?
  • Other technology: The only technology required, if any, is some form of timing/cuing device (e.g., Motivaider, stopwatch, timer on mobile device).

Program Information

Descriptive Information

Please provide a description of program, including intended use:

Noncontingent reinforcement 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).

The program is intended for use in the following age(s) and/or grade(s).

not selected Age 0-3
not selected Age 3-5
selected Kindergarten
selected First grade
selected Second grade
selected Third grade
selected Fourth grade
selected Fifth grade
selected Sixth grade
selected Seventh grade
selected Eighth grade
selected Ninth grade
selected Tenth grade
selected Eleventh grade
selected Twelth grade


The program is intended for use with the following groups.

selected Students with disabilities only
selected Students with learning disabilities
selected Students with intellectual disabilities
selected Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
not selected English language learners
not selected Any student at risk for academic failure
selected Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
selected Other
If other, please describe:
autism spectrum disorders

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: Please indicate the academic area of focus.

Early Literacy

not selected Print knowledge/awareness
not selected Alphabet knowledge
not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonological awarenessEarly writing
not selected Early decoding abilities
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Language

not selected Expressive and receptive vocabulary
not selected Grammar
not selected Syntax
not selected Listening comprehension
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Reading

not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonics/word study
not selected Comprehension
not selected Fluency
not selected Vocabulary
not selected Spelling
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Mathematics

not selected Computation
not selected Concepts and/or word problems
not selected Whole number arithmetic
not selected Comprehensive: Includes computation/procedures, problem solving, and mathematical concepts
not selected Algebra
not selected Fractions, decimals (rational number)
not selected Geometry and measurement
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Writing

not selected Handwriting
not selected Spelling
not selected Sentence construction
not selected Planning and revising
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Please indicate the behavior area of focus.

Externalizing Behavior

selected Physical Aggression
not selected Verbal Threats
selected Property Destruction
selected Noncompliance
selected High Levels of Disengagement
selected Disruptive Behavior
not selected Social Behavior (e.g., Peer interactions, Adult interactions)
selected Other
If other, please describe:
self-injury

Internalizing Behavior

not selected Depression
not selected Anxiety
not selected Social Difficulties (e.g., withdrawal)
not selected School Phobia
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Acquisition and cost information

Where to obtain:

Address
Phone Number
Website

Initial cost for implementing program:

Cost
$0.00
Unit of cost

Replacement cost per unit for subsequent use:

Cost
Unit of cost
Duration of license

Additional cost information:

Describe basic pricing plan and structure of the program. Also, provide information on what is included in the published program, as well as what is not included but required for implementation (e.g., computer and/or internet access)

No costs are associated with implementation of noncontingent reinforcement. All that is required for implementation is student-specific reinforcers (e.g., adult attention, preferred items/activities) and a timing device.

Program Specifications

Setting for which the program is designed.

selected Individual students
not selected Small group of students
not selected BI ONLY: A classroom of students

If group-delivered, how many students compose a small group?

  

Program administration time

Minimum number of minutes per session
Minimum number of sessions per week
Minimum number of weeks
selected N/A (implemented until effective)

If intervention program is intended to occur over less frequently than 60 minutes a week for approximately 8 weeks, justify the level of intensity:

Does the program include highly specified teacher manuals or step by step instructions for implementation?
No

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Is the program affiliated with a broad school- or class-wide management program?
No

If yes, please identify and describe the broader school- or class-wide management program:

Does the program require technology?
Yes

If yes, what technology is required to implement your program?
not selected Computer or tablet
not selected Internet connection
selected Other technology (please specify)

If your program requires additional technology not listed above, please describe the required technology and the extent to which it is combined with teacher small-group instruction/intervention:
The only technology required, if any, is some form of timing/cuing device (e.g., Motivaider, stopwatch, timer on mobile device).

Training

How many people are needed to implement the program ?
1

Is training for the instructor or interventionist required?
Yes
If yes, is the necessary training free or at-cost?

Describe the time required for instructor or interventionist training:
Not available (this information was not reported, but less than 1 hour is most likely)

Describe the format and content of the instructor or interventionist training:
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-s delay to reinforcer delivery if problem behavior occurs when the timer goes off), and (c) practice implementing NCR with a timing/cueing device.

What types or professionals are qualified to administer your program?

selected Special Education Teacher
selected General Education Teacher
selected Reading Specialist
selected Math Specialist
selected EL Specialist
selected Interventionist
selected Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
selected Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
selected Paraprofessional
selected Other

If other, please describe:

Clinical therapists/staff
Does the program assume that the instructor or interventionist has expertise in a given area?
No   

If yes, please describe: 


Are training manuals and materials available?
No

Describe how the training manuals or materials were field-tested with the target population of instructors or interventionist and students:
N/A

Do you provide fidelity of implementation guidance such as a checklist for implementation in your manual?

Can practitioners obtain ongoing professional and technical support?
No

If yes, please specify where/how practitioners can obtain support:

Summary of Evidence Base

Please identify, to the best of your knowledge, all the research studies that have been conducted to date supporting the efficacy of your program, including studies currently or previously submitted to NCII for review. Please provide citations only (in APA format); do not include any descriptive information on these studies. NCII staff will also conduct a search to confirm that the list you provide is accurate.

Austin, J. L., & Soeda, J. M. (2008). Fixed-time teacher attention to decrease off-task behaviors of typically developing third graders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 41, 279-283.

 

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.

 

Ingvarsson, E. T., Kahng, S., & Hausman, N. L. (2008). Some effects of noncontingent positive reinforcement on multiply controlled problem behavior and compliance in a demand context. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 41, 435-440.

 

Jones, K. M., Drew, H. A., & Weber, N. L. (2000). Noncontingent peer attention as treatment for disruptive classroom behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 343-346.

 

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.

 

Nolan, J. D., & Filter, K. J. (2012). A function-based classroom behavior intervention using non-contingent reinforcement plus response cost. Education and Treatment of Children, 35, 419-430.

 

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.

 

Roane, H. S., Fisher, W. W., & Sgro, G. M. (2001). Effects of a fixed-time schedule on aberrant and adaptive behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 34, 333-336.

 

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.

Study Information

Study Citations

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.

Participants Half Bobble

Describe how students were selected to participate in the study:
Teachers at the school identified two students who displayed highly disruptive behavior and referred them for participation in the study.

Describe how students were identified as being at risk for academic failure (AI) or as having emotional/behavioral difficulties (BI):
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.

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • below the 30th percentile on local or national norm, or
  • identified disability related to the focus of the intervention?
%

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • emotional disability label,
  • placed in an alternative school/classroom,
  • non-responsive to Tiers 1 and 2, or
  • designation of severe problem behaviors on a validated scale or through observation?
%

Provide a description of the demographic and other relevant characteristics of the case used in your study (e.g., student(s), classroom(s)).

Case (Name or number) Age/Grade Gender Race / Ethnicity Socioeconomic Status Disability Status ELL status Other Relevant Descriptive Characteristics
test test test test test test test test

Design Full Bobble

Please describe the study design:
A-B-A-B’ withdrawal design (authors describe as reversal design) A = baseline B = FT reinforcement (NCR) B’ = FT reinforcement (NCR) with schedule thinning

Clarify and provide a detailed description of the treatment in the submitted program/intervention:
At the beginning of each FT escape session, the paraprofessional placed two small sticky notes on the participant’s desk, which were labeled “work” (yellow note) and “break” (orange note). At the beginning of each session, the paraprofessional walked by the participant’s desk and pointed to the note labeled “work” as the prompt to begin working. At predetermined FT intervals (determined by measuring the mean latency to disruptive behavior during baseline sessions), the paraprofessional walked by the participant’s desk and pointed to the note labeled “break” to cue the participant to take an in-seat break from instruction. The paraprofessional used a silent vibrating timer to cue the delivery of escape on the appropriate reinforcement schedule and a second silent vibrating timer to measure the duration of the breaks. At the end of the break, the paraprofessional approached the participant’s desk and pointed to the note labeled “work” as a prompt to return to working on the assigned task. During the second intervention condition (B’), the FT schedule was increased when disruptive behavior remained under 10% for three consecutive sessions. The duration of the break decreased to 30 s when the FT schedule reached 240 s for both participants. If disruptive behavior occurred during more than 10% of intervals for three consecutive sessions, the FT schedule was decreased by 30 s until the disruptive behavior remained below 10% for three consecutive sessions. *The reinforcer was selected based on results of a functional analysis (highest rates of disruptive behavior during escape conditions for both participants).

Clarify what procedures occurred during the control/baseline condition (third, competing conditions are not considered; if you have a third, competing condition [e.g., multi-element single subject design with a third comparison condition], in addition to your control condition, identify what the competing condition is [data from this competing condition will not be used]):
The regular classroom management system (i.e., intermittent reprimands and reminders to stay on task) was in place during all sessions. During baseline, the paraprofessional gave the participant independent math tasks and a verbal instruction to begin working. The classroom teacher behaved as usual, giving instructions, answering students’ questions, and providing intermittent reprimands and reminders to keep working.

Please describe how replication of treatment effect was demonstrated (e.g., reversal or withdrawal of intervention, across participants, across settings)
Introduction and withdrawal of FT schedule of reinforcement for 2 participants

Please indicate whether (and how) the design contains at least three demonstrations of experimental control (e.g., ABAB design, multiple baseline across three or more participants).
A-B-A-B’ design allows three demonstrations of effect per participant (only distinction between B condition and B’ condition was that the FT schedule was gradually thinned in the B’ condition)

If the study is a multiple baseline, is it concurrent or non-concurrent?
N/A

Fidelity of Implementation Empty Bobble

How was the program delivered?
selected Individually
not selected Small Group
not selected Classroom

If small group, answer the following:

Average group size
Minimum group size
Maximum group size

What was the duration of the intervention (If duration differed across participants, settings, or behaviors, describe for each.)?

Condition A
Weeks
Sessions per week
Duration of sessions in minutes
Condition B
Weeks
Sessions per week
Duration of sessions in minutes
Condition C
Weeks
Sessions per week
Duration of sessions in minutes
What were the background, experience, training, and ongoing support of the instructors or interventionists?
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.)

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained.
Fidelity data were not collected.

What were the results on the fidelity-of-treatment implementation measure?
N/A

Was the fidelity measure also used in baseline or comparison conditions?
N/A

Measures and Results

Measures Targeted : Full Bobble
Measures Broader : Dash

Study measures are classified as targeted, broader, or administrative data according to the following definitions:

  • Targeted measures
    Assess outcomes, such as competencies or skills, that the program was directly targeted to improve.
    • In the academic domain, targeted measures typically are not the very items taught but rather novel items structured similarly to the content addressed in the program. For example, if a program taught word-attack skills, a targeted measure would be decoding of pseudo words. If a program taught comprehension of cause-effect passages, a targeted measure would be answering questions about cause-effect passages structured similarly to those used during intervention, but not including the very passages used for intervention.
    • In the behavioral domain, targeted measures evaluate aspects of external or internal behavior the program was directly targeted to improve and are operationally defined.
  • Broader measures
    Assess outcomes that are related to the competencies or skills targeted by the program but not directly taught in the program.
    • In the academic domain, if a program taught word-level reading skill, a broader measure would be answering questions about passages the student reads. If a program taught calculation skill, a broader measure would be solving word problems that require the same kinds of calculation skill taught in the program.
    • In the behavioral domain, if a program taught a specific skill like on-task behavior in one classroom, a broader measure would be on-task behavior in another setting.
  • Administrative data measures apply only to behavioral intervention tools and are measures such as office discipline referrals (ODRs) and graduation rates, which do not have psychometric properties as do other, more traditional targeted or broader measures.
Targeted Measure Reverse Coded? Evidence Relevance
Targeted Measure 1 Yes A1 A2
Broader Measure Reverse Coded? Evidence Relevance
Broader Measure 1 Yes A1 A2
Administrative Data Measure Reverse Coded? Relevance
Admin Measure 1 Yes A2
If you have excluded a variable or data that are reported in the study being submitted, explain the rationale for exclusion:
No additional measures were reported.

Results Full Bobble

Describe the method of analyses you used to determine whether the intervention condition improved relative to baseline phase (e.g., visual inspection, computation of change score, mean difference):
Visual inspection

Please present results in terms of within and between phase patterns. Data on the following data characteristics must be included: level, trend, variability, immediacy of the effect, overlap, and consistency of data patterns across similar conditions. Submitting only means and standard deviations for phases is not sufficient. Data must be included for each outcome measure (targeted, broader, and administrative if applicable) that was described above.
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 s to 240 s 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 s to 300 s. 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).

Additional Research

Is the program reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA?
No
Summary of WWC / E-ESSA Findings :

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse.

How many additional research studies are potentially eligible for NCII review?
10
Citations for Additional Research 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.

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