Effects of interspersed brief problems on students' endurance at completing math work

Staci Montarello, Brian K. Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


An alternating treatments design was used to compare the effects of baseline, interspersed brief problems, and interspersed brief problems plus token reinforcement on students' endurance while completing math worksheets. By pairing the completion of brief problems with token reinforcement, the role of problem completion as a conditioned reinforcer was examined consistent with the discrete task completion hypothesis. Four 5th grade students who were low achieving in math participated. Each day the students completed a stack of math worksheets containing 3-digit by 3-digit addition problems with or without interspersed single-digit problems for 10 min. Dependent measures included total digits correct per session and during each min of the 10 min work period (i.e., a measure of endurance). Results indicated that total digits correct per session was highest during the interspersal plus reinforcement condition followed by interspersal and then baseline for three of the four students. In addition, both interspersal conditions resulted in greater endurance than baseline. Limitations of the current study and implications for increasing students' persistence on classroom tasks are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-266
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Alternating treatments design
  • Endurance
  • Interspersal
  • Math computation
  • Token reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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