Relative Effects of Delayed Versus Immediate Reinforcement Within an Interdependent Group-Oriented Contingency System
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The current study sought to add to the literature on applying interdependent group-oriented contingency systems with randomized components to academic performance. This study expanded previous work, which has only examined effects on elementary classrooms and students with disabilities, by implementing a similar intervention within a general education, secondary classroom. Given the restricted time that teachers have to learn and implement interventions, while simultaneously carrying out all their additional responsibilities in the classroom, it is necessary for school psychologists to consider these limitations when recommending interventions. In previous work involving interdependent group-oriented contingencies, the delivery of reinforcement has been relatively immediate. While this is an ideal arrangement, it may be infeasible for middle and high school teachers to ensure reinforcement of academic performance occurs immediately within the class period. This study examined whether the delivery of reinforcement can be delayed within an interdependent group-oriented contingency system and still improve the academic performance of students in the classroom, which will allow the teacher more time for evaluating the quality of student work and, in turn, impact the acceptability of the intervention. One middle school, general education classroom served as the setting for this study. Academic performance data, including in-class work completion and accuracy rates, were collected class-wide and data on social behavior variables were gathered for 3 students exhibiting moderate to high levels of off-task behavior, based on teacher perception. An alternating treatments design was employed with two intervention conditions: one condition included immediate reinforcement and the other involved delivering reinforcement to students a day later. The interdependent group-oriented contingency intervention implemented included procedures for randomly selecting target behaviors, criteria, and reinforcers.