Off-task behaviors are often maintained by escape from instructional activities. However, attention is typically inseparable from escape-related consequences imposed by teachers. Testing consequent conditions separately in a typical functional analysis in these instances could lead to inconclusive results. Therefore, it may be important to manipulate both positive and negative reinforcement contingencies simultaneously to parse out possible attention versus escape functions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an escape condition combined with two contingent attention conditions for off-task behavior in a 4-year-old preschool girl. Data from the escape and the escape + directives conditions did not conclusively demonstrate attention was a maintaining variable for off-task behavior. However, there was a differentiated effect of providing escape + differential attention + engagement stimuli when compared to the escape + physical proximity during the academic demand. Thus, academic demand may have served as a setting event for off-task behavior, but the behavior occurred more frequently when escape + physical proximity was provided during the activity. Contrastingly, adding escape + differential attention + engagement stimuli during the academic demand appeared to compete with the value of escape for off-task behavior. Implications for assessing multiple functions of problem behavior and designing effective treatment packages by practitioners are discussed.
Education and Treatment of Children – West Virginia University Press
Published: Dec 20, 2012