What techniques can Ms. Rollison use to manage the disruptive and non-compliant behaviors of students like Patrick and Tameka?
Page 6: Eliminating Behaviors Using Differential Reinforcement of Other Behaviors (DRO)
Differential reinforcement of other behaviors (DRO) is an effective method through which to eliminate behaviors that might be troublesome in the classroom. Essentially, DRO reinforces the absence or the non-occurrence of the problem behavior. To do this, a teacher using DRO delivers reinforcement to any behavior except the behavior he or she is trying to eliminate. Because this can technically include other misbehaviors, the teacher should be careful to only reinforce other desirable behaviors.
|Type||Abbr.||How/When To Use||Main Goal|
|Differential reinforcement of other behavior||DRO||
Reinforce the student when s/he refrains from engaging in the target behavior.
Example: Student receives a star for each interval he refrains from talking with his neighbor.
For example, a teacher may want to eliminate a student’s interrupting behavior. To do this, she reinforces the student every time he goes five minutes without interrupting. In other words, she is reinforcing the non-occurrence of interrupting. However, the teacher needs to be aware of what other behaviors the student is engaging in during those five minutes. Let’s say that the student doesn’t interrupt for five minutes because he is busy shredding pieces of paper and throwing them onto the floor. Reinforcing him for not interrupting might inadvertently reinforce the paper shredding. Obviously, a common-sense approach to DRO makes implementation more successful.
Click on the audio links below to hear Joe Wehby provide tips for using DRO in the classroom.
Joe Wehby, PhD
As was mentioned in the audio, a teacher using DRO must avoid:
- Inadvertently reinforcing inappropriate behaviors during attempts to reinforce the non-occurrence of the identified misbehavior
- Setting unrealistic expectations for the length of time he or she expects the student to go without engaging in the misbehavior
Steps for Using DRO
- Identify the behavior you would like to eliminate.
- Define this behavior using precise language. For example, “Out of seat refers to being completely out of your seat.”
- Using a timer, select an interval for how often you will check on this unwanted behavior. Keep in mind that behaviors that occur more frequently will need a shorter schedule (e.g., five minutes for shouting out) than will behaviors that occur less frequently (e.g., 10 minutes for out-of-seat).
- When the timer goes off, determine whether the behavior occurred during the time period and respond accordingly. If the behavior did not occur, give the student reinforcement (e.g., verbal praise, stickers). If the behavior did occur, let the student know that you are resetting the timer for another try.
- As the problem behavior decreases, increase the interval. For example, change your “out of seat” checks from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
Adapted from Elliott & Gresham, 1991
Using DRO with Patrick
Ms. Rollison decides to focus on Patrick’s rude comments. As was mentioned earlier, the baseline data she collects show that he makes inappropriate comments every few minutes. Ms. Rollison then works through the following DRO steps:
- Identify the behavior you would like to decrease.
- Define this behavior using precise language.
“Rude comments” refers to any remark made in a disrespectful tone, name calling, profanity, teasing, or negative non-verbal facial expressions or body gestures.
- Using a timer, select a time interval for how often you are going to check on this unwanted behavior.
- Monitor the behavior and respond appropriately.
Ms. Rollison meets with Patrick, explains the DRO, and asks him what type of reinforcement he would like to work toward. He comes up with several ideas, and together they agree that he can earn 10 minutes of free time. When Ms. Rollison implements the DRO schedule, the timer goes off every three minutes, and she notes whether Patrick has made any rude comments during that time. If he has not, she smiles at him and nods, which is the cue for him to then put a mark on a chart that he keeps at his desk. If he has made rude comments, however, she shakes her head, indicating that no mark has been earned, and resets the timer. If Patrick gets a prescribed number of marks on his chart by the end of the day, he earns 10 minutes of free time.
- Gradually increase the interval.
As Patrick responds to the DRO, Ms. Rollison gradually moves the timer to five minutes, then 10 minutes, continuing to increase the time until Patrick is able to refrain from making rude comments for an entire period. Her goal is to eventually increase this time period to an entire day.
Click the audio icon to hear Ms. Thibodeaux’s feedback (time: 0:44).