Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #213
CE Offered: BACB
Increasing Children’s Math Work Completion by Offering a Choice of Interventions and Reinforcement Contingencies
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center 403/404
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University)
CE Instructor: Brian K. Martens, Ph.D.
Abstract: Research has shown that giving children the opportunity to choose tasks, reinforcers, or reinforcement contingencies can reduce problem behavior and increase task engagement. When given a choice between fixed (certain) or variable (uncertain) reinforcement schedules, children may even complete more work for the variable outcome. All three original research papers in this symposium examine the effects of choice making on children’s math work completion. The first study used an alternating treatments design to determine if math interventions would be more effective when chosen by the student or selected by the experimenter. The second study examined children’s preferences for completing math problems on a fixed-ratio (FR 5) schedule versus three mixed ratio (MR) schedules (MR 1,9, MR 1,11, or MR 5,7) using a reversal design. The third study used an alternating treatments design to compare the effects of an interdependent group contingency to a dependent group contingency based on randomly selected and unknown subgroups on children’s math assignment accuracy. Across the studies, participants completed more work when offered a choice and/or preferred the variable (uncertain) reinforcement schedule. These findings suggest how choice making and preference for variable reinforcement can be used to support children’s math work completion.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Student Choice of Math Interventions: Investigating the Effects of Choice on Digits Correct per Minute
MEGHAN SILVA (University of Massachusetts Boston), Robin Codding (University of Minnesota), Melissa Collier-Meek (University of Massachusetts Boston), Adam Feinberg (University of Connecticut)
Abstract: Choice allows individuals to exert control, express preferences, and influence decisions within their environment. This study applied choice to math interventions by investigating if digits correct per minute (DCPM) in mathematics would increase when students were allowed to choose their intervention. Participants were five fourth and fifth grade students from a northeast school district. A survey level assessment (SLA) was administered to determine each student’s target skill. A Brief Experimental Analysis (BEA) was then conducted, with students participating in three math interventions to determine the effectiveness of each intervention and ensure the intervention choices were equivalent. Utilizing an alternating treatments design (ATD), participants had the opportunity to choose between two to three equivalent math interventions during the choice condition. For the no-choice condition, the experimenter randomly selected the intervention. Differentiation between the no-choice and control condition was observed across 4 of 5 participants with higher DCPM observed during the choice condition. We will present these results, along with student social validity data, and discuss the implications and practical considerations of offering choice during the intervention process.
Children’s Preference for Mixed- Versus Fixed-Ratio Reinforcement Schedules: A Translational Study of Risky Choice
MICHAEL PATRICK MULLANE (Syracuse University), Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University), Emily L. Baxter (Syracuse University), Danica VerSteeg (Syracuse University)
Abstract: Basic research has demonstrated that when subjects choose between fixed-ratio (FR) and bi-valued mixed-ratio (MR) schedules of reinforcement, preference typically emerges for the MR under certain conditions. The current study attempted to extend these findings to children’s academic responding. Using a reversal design, four fourth-grade students chose between completing addition problems reinforced on either a FR 5 schedule or one of three MR schedules in the following sequence: an MR (1, 9) schedule, an MR (1, 11) schedule, and an MR (5, 7) schedule. This was following by a reversal back to the phase in which preference for the MR schedule had been observed, and a final reversal to the MR (5, 7) phase. Findings were consistent with basic research in that all children preferred the MR (1, 9) schedule over the FR 5 schedule. Preference persisted for the MR (1, 11) schedule for three of the four children. Indifference or preference for the FR alternative was observed in the MR (5, 7) phase. Results extend previous research on risky choice to children’s academic responding and highlight the importance of a small ratio component in the emergence of preference for bi-valued MR schedules.

Effects of Group Contingencies on Children's Math Accuracy: Class Average Versus Randomly Selected Small-Groups

CHRISTOPHER SKINNER (The Univesity of Tennessee), Katelyn Scott (School Psychology Doctoral Student at University of Tennessee Knoxville ), Tara Moore (The University of Tennessee, Knoxville), Merilee McCurdy (University of Tennessee), Dennis Ciancio (University of Tennessee)

An adapted alternating treatments design was used to evaluate and compare the effects of two group-oriented contingencies interventions on math assignment accuracy in an intact first-grade classroom. Both an interdependent contingency with class-average criteria (16 students) and a dependent contingency with criteria based on the average of a smaller (4 students), unknown, randomly selected group of students were applied. For both contingencies, rewards and criteria were randomly selected and unknown to students. Idiosyncratic and class-wide analysis showed immediate, sustained, and meaningful improvements in math assignment accuracy (e.g., from a class average of D to a class average of B) across both contingencies with little differences between the two interventions. Social validity and forced choice data suggest that the two teachers and the majority of the students preferred the small-group contingency which included an additional random component. Discussion focuses on applied implications associated with randomizing contingency components.




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