Efficacy of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior on the on-task behaviors of deaf and hard of hearing students: a single subject study

  • Seyyed Mohammad Sabour Ebrahimi Mail Research Institute for Education, Sanandaj, Iran
  • Bagher Ghobari Bonab Department of Psychology and Education of Exceptional Children, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior, deaf and hard of hearing, on-task behaviors


Background and Aim: Function-based inter­vention have been shown to have positive increase in social skills of children with behavi­oral problems. The same findings can be potentially applied to the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) children. The present study examined the efficacy of differential reinforce­ment of alternative behavior (DRA) on the on-task behaviors of deaf and hard of hearing students in school.
Methods: Three subjects from one education center were selected. Multiple baseline design across subjects was utilized. Baseline data were collected through frequent observation of behaviors for each subject. In the intervention phase, three subjects were assigned to DRA programs.
Results: The data from the present study were analyzed by visual inspection and effect size index indicating that DRA was effective on the improvement of on-task behavior of these students.
Conclusion: The results showed that DRA was effective on improvement of academic task behavior of D/HH students.


1. Gallaudet Research Institute. Regional and National Summary Report of Data from the 2009-10 Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth. Washington, DC: GRI, Gallaudet University; 2011.
2. Hintermair M. Executive functions and behavioral problems in deaf and hard-of-hearing students at general and special schools. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2013;18(3):344-59.
3. Theunissen SC, Rieffe C, Kouwenberg M, De Raeve LJ, Soede W, Briaire JJ, et al. Behavioral problems in school-aged hearing-impaired children: the influence of sociodemographic, linguistic, and medical factors. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014;23(4):187-96.
4. Vogel-Walcutt JJ, Schatschneider C, Bowers C. Social-emotional functioning of elementary-age deaf children: a profile analysis. Am Ann Deaf. 2011;156(1):6-22.
5. Kauffman JM. Characteristics of emotional and behavioral disorders of children and youth. 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall; 2005.
6. Bruce S, DiNatale P, Ford J. Meeting the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students with additional disabilities through professional teacher development. Am Ann Deaf. 2008;153(4):368-75.
7. Iwata BA, Vollmer TR, Zarcone JR. The experimental (functional) analysis of behavioral disorders: methodology, applications, and limitations. In: Repp AC, Singh NN, editors. Perspectives on the use of nonaversive and aversive interventions for persons with developmental disabilities. 1st ed. Sycamore, IL: Sycamore Publishing Company; 1990. p. 301-30.
8. Durand VM, Merges E. Functional communication training: a contemporary behavior analytic intervention for problem behaviors. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl. 2001;16(2):110-19.
9. Legray MW, Dufrene BA, Mercer S, Olmi DJ, Sterling H. Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior in center-based classrooms. J Behav Educ. 2013;22(2);85-102.
10. Mazaleski JL, Iwata BA, Vollmer TR, Zarcone JR, Smith RG. Analysis of the reinforcement and extinction components in DRO contingencies with self-injury. J Appl Behav Anal. 1993;26(2):143-56.
11. Cooper JO, Heron TE, Heward WL. Applied behavior analysis. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Pearson; 2007.
12. Petscher ES, Rey C, Bailey JS. A review of empirical support for differential reinforcement of alternative behavior. Res Dev Disabil. 2009;30(3):409-25.
13. Tiger JH, Hanley GP, Bruzek J. Functional communication training: a review and practical guide. Behav Anal Pract. 2008;1(1):16-23.
14. Volkert VM, Lerman DC, Call NA, Trosclair-Lasserre N. An evaluation of resurgence during treatment with functional communication training. J Appl Behav Anal. 2009;42(1):145-60.
15. Flood WA, Wilder DA. Antecedent assessment and assessment-based treatment of off-task behavior in a child diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Educ Treat Children. 2002;25(3):331-38.
16. Beare PL, Severson S, Brandt P. The use of a positive procedure to increase engagement on-task and decrease challenging behavior. Behav Modif. 2004;28(1):28-44.
17. Hanley GP, Iwata BA, Thompson RH. Reinforcement schedule thinning following treatment with functional communication training. J Appl Behav Anal. 2001;34(1):17-38.
18. Athens ES, Vollmer TR. An investigation of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior without extinction. J Appl Behav Anal. 2010;43(4):569-89.
19. Lalli JS, Casey S, Kates K. Reducing escape behavior and increasing task completion with functional communication training, extinction, and response chaining. J Appl Behav Anal. 1995;28(3):261-8.
20. Lucas RL. The effects of time-out and dra on the aggressive behavior of a spirited two-year-old. Child Fam Behav Ther. 2000;22(2):51-6.
21. Vollmer TR, Roane HS, Ringdahl JE, Marcus BA. Evaluating treatment challenges with differential reinforcement of alternative behavior. J Appl Behav Anal. 1999;32(1):9-23.
22. Janosky JE, Leininger SL, Hoerger MP, Libkuman TM. Single subject designs in biomedicine. 1st ed. Dordrecht: Springer; 2009.
23. Durand VM, Crimmins DB. Identifying the variables maintaining self-injurious behavior. J Autism Dev Disord. 1988;18(1):99-117.
24. O'Neill RE, Horner RH, Albin RW, Storey K, Sprague JR. Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: a practical handbook. 2nd ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing; 1997.
25. Hartwig L, Heathfield LT, Jenson WR. Standardization of the functional assessment and intervention program (FAIP) with children who have externalizing behaviors. Sch Psychol Q. 2004;19(3):272-87.
26. Bijou SW, Peterson RF, Ault MH. A method to integrate descriptive and experimental field studies at the level of data and empirical concepts. J Appl Behav Anal. 1968;1(2):175-91.
27. Kazdin AE. Single-case research designs: methods for clinical and applied settings. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 1982.
28. Martens BK, Witt JC, Elliott SN, Darveaux DX. Teacher judgments concerning the acceptability of school-based interventions. Prof Psychol Res Pr. 1985;16(2):191-8.
29. Mueller MM, Edwards RP, Trahant D. Translating multiple assessment techniques into an intervention selection model for classrooms. J Appl Behav Anal. 2003;36(4):563-73.
30. Umbreit J, Ferro JB, Liaupsin CJ, Lane KL. Functional behavioral assessment and function-based intervention: an effective, practical approach. 1st ed. New Jersey: Pearson; 2007.
31. Barlow DH, Hersen M. Single case experimental designs strategies for studying behavior change. 2nd ed. New York: Pergamon; 1984.
32. Franklin RD, Allison DB, Gorman BS. Design and analysis of single-case research.1st ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum publishing; 1996.
33. Bloom M, Fischer J, Orme JG. Evaluating practice guidelines for the accountable professional. 4th ed. Boston: Example Product Manufacturer; 2003.
34. Zimmerman EH, Zimmerman J, Russell CD. Differential effects of token reinforcement on instruction-following behavior in retarded students instructed as a group. J Appl Behav Anal. 1969;2(2):101-12.
35. Leitenberg H, Burchard JD, Burchard SN, Fuller EJ, Lysaght TV. Using positive reinforcement to suppress behavior: some experimental comparisons with sibling conflict. Behav Ther. 1977;8(2):168-82.
36. Allen KD, Stokes TF. Use of escape and reward in the management of young children during dental treatment. J Appl Behav Anal. 1987;20(4):381-90.
37. Franco JH, Lang RL, O'Reilly MF, Chan JM, Sigafoos J, Rispoli M. Functional analysis and treatment of inappropriate vocalizations using a speech-generating device for a child with autism. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl. 2009;24(3):146-55.
38. O'Neill RE, Sweetland-Baker M. An assessment of stimulus generalization and contingency effects in functional communication training with two students with autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2001;31(2):235-40.
39. Vollmer TR, Roane HS, Ringdahl JE, Marcus BA. Evaluating treatment challenges with differential reinforcement of alternative behavior. J Appl Behav Anal. 1999;32(1):9-23.
How to Cite
Ebrahimi SMS, Ghobari Bonab B. Efficacy of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior on the on-task behaviors of deaf and hard of hearing students: a single subject study. Aud Vestib Res. 24(4):224-233.
Research Article(s)