Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

John W. Maag

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Special Education, Under the Supervision of Professor John W. Maag. Lincoln, Nebraska : July, 2018

Copyright (c) 2018 Nicole Goehring


This multiple baseline across participants design answered the question: is a differential negative reinforcement of alternative (DNRA) behaviors effective in improving reading comprehension accuracy. Students with emotional/behavioral disorders (E/BD) often display challenging behaviors during academic lessons, typically to escape tasks they perceive to be aversive or those for which they lack sufficient academic achievement. Several function-based interventions have been used to address misbehavior due to this function such as providing easier work or asking for a break. However, differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior (DNRA) is an intervention that directly addresses escape from work for which students possess the requisite skills but find the activity unpleasant. While a few studies on DNRA interventions have addressed academic concerns during math activities, the current study extended the extant research in two important ways. First, it examined effectiveness to reading comprehension. Second, most DNRA intervention build in breaks contingent upon obtaining certain accuracy over small sections of the assignment. However, in the present study, participants were able to escape doing a second worksheet contingent upon a performance standard. This approach is more beneficial because it does not waste academic time through the use of multiple breaks. Three fourth graders participated in the study that used a multiple baseline design across participants. Results indicated improvements for all participants across all conditions. Specifically, all participants improved their reading scores on maze tasks and earned negative reinforcement in 89.3% of their intervention sessions. Results are discussed in terms of implications for practice and areas for future research.

Advisor: John W. Maag