Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Applied Classwide in a Child Care Setting

Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Applied Classwide in a Child Care Setting

Article excerpt


This study investigated the effectiveness of implementing Differential Reinforcement of Other behavior (DRO) at the classwide level to decrease the disruptive behavior of seven typically developing preschool-aged children in a child care setting. After baseline data were collected, a whole interval DRO reinforcement schedule using edible rewards was implemented for four weeks. Disruptive behavior decreased after the intervention was implemented. This report adds to the existing research literature supporting the use of DRO in classroom settings (e.g., Conyers et al., 2003; Repp, Barton, & Brulle, 1983) and extends the literature on the use of DRO with typically developing preschoolers. Limitations of this study and future research recommended in this area are discussed.

Keywords: preschool age, differential reinforcement (DR), differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), disruptive behavior, classwide, day care, child care, and community based


Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) is a procedure in which reinforcement is delivered dependent on the absence of the target behavior (Conyers, Miltenberger, Romaniuk, Kopp, & Himle, 2003). To implement this technique, data are collected on the occurrence of the target behavior and the average duration between behaviors is determined (i.e., the inter-response interval). This information drives the reinforcement schedule that is delivered if the target behavior does not occur. For example, if data gathered during baseline suggest that the target behavior occurs once every minute, reinforcement will be delivered at the end of a minute if the target behavior has not been exhibited. Once behavioral control has been established, the interval required for delivery of the reinforcement is progressively increased (de Zubicaray & Clair, 1998).

DRO has proven effective in eliminating a wide variety of problem behaviors with different populations, and it is a procedure that does not require extensive training to implement (Homer & Peterson, 1980). Homer and Peterson (1980) reported that DRO schedules of reinforcement produce rapid inhibition of response in applied settings and that no undesirable side effects of the intervention had been reported in the literature. The authors predicted any possible side effects to be positive in nature due to the positive reinforcement aspect of the intervention (Homer & Peterson, 1980).

By definition, DRO must be paired with some type of reinforcement of non-targeted behaviors. Past research has demonstrated that DRO paired with edible reinforcement has reduced inappropriate behaviors in children (e.g., Repp, Dietz, & Dietz, 1976). Specifically, Repp et al. (1976) reported success in reducing levels of inappropriate responding in a classroom using a DRO schedule of reinforcement paired with a token economy. The students exchanged their tokens for games, activities, and refreshments.

The DRO intervention has been implemented in two ways: whole interval DRO (wDRO) and momentary DRO (mDRO). The wDRO procedure involves administering the reinforcer if behavior other than the target behavior (hereafter "other behavior") is exhibited for the entire interval. In contrast, the mDRO procedure involves administering the reinforcer if the other behavior is exhibited at the time of a prompt (e.g., the sound of a timer). One study found that wDRO decreased inappropriate behavior more than mDRO (Repp, Barton, & Brulle, 1983). Repp et al. (1983) conducted two studies to compare the effectiveness of whole interval DRO and momentary DRO. The results indicated that although wDRO was more effective than momentary, the value of mDRO cannot be ignored. In fact, the mDRO schedule reduced inappropriate behavior (Repp et al., 1983). The authors noted the difficulty of implementing wDRO accurately due to the constant attention required by the observer. …

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