Assessing Teachers' and Students' Preferences for School-Based Reinforcers: Agreement Across Methods and Different Effort Requirements

Merrill J. Berkowitz, Brian K Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The goal of Experiment 1 was to identify reinforcers that teachers perceived as available and appropriate for use in classroom settings. A sample of 31 elementary and secondary teachers rank ordered potential school-based reinforcers using the survey developed by Northup et al., J. Appl. Behav. Anal., 1996. The highest ranked items involved teacher praise/attention and the use of desired activities. Items rated lowest by teachers included escape from academic work and edible snacks. The goals of Experiment 2 were to compare two methods of assessing students' preferences for school-based reinforcers identified in Experiment 1 (phase 1) and to examine the influence of increased effort requirements on students' choices (phase 2). Three students referred for academic difficulties and 2 students with emotional disturbances participated. In phase 1, each student was presented with all possible pairwise combinations of 6 reinforcers that had been rank ordered from pictures (pictorial-choice method) and was asked to choose the task associated with the more preferred item on each trial (concurrent-operants method). The same pairwise combinations were presented in phase 2, but the effort required to obtain higher preferred items was increased. Rank order correlations between the assessment methods were generally low, and 4 of the 5 students tended to choose the less effortful task/lower preferred item on each trial. Implications of these results for assessing students' preferences for school-based reinforcers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-387
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001



  • School-based reinforcers
  • Student preference
  • Teacher preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Health Professions(all)

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