Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School Psychology

Major Professor

Christopher H. Skinner

Committee Members

Tara C. Moore, David F. Cihak, Merilee McCurdy


Group-oriented contingencies are often used in the classroom as a means to enhance academic performance. Randomization of contingency components and group size have important implications for the effectiveness of these contingencies. The current study was designed to extend research on group contingencies by evaluating and comparing a randomly-selected small group dependent contingency with a large group interdependent contingency in a first-grade classroom. In this classroom, students sit at tables consisting of four students. Percentage correctly completed on daily independent math assignments represented the dependent variable. Class-wide averages, small group averages (i.e., tables), and individual student data was collected. Researchers also evaluated acceptability of the interventions to evaluate whether one contingency was preferred to another.

An adapted alternating treatment design was used to evaluate the effects of the contingencies on student math academic performance. Across all phases, typical classroom procedures remained in place and students were given 25 minutes to complete the independent assignments. If the class average or small group met a randomly selected criterion, the class earned access to a randomly selected group reward. Visual analysis of the alternating treatments graph showed increased math performance across both interventions in comparison to typical classroom procedures. No meaningful differences were found between the contingencies.

Survey and interview data reveal that both teachers and students found the interventions highly acceptable. Teachers reported to prefer the small group condition due to practical implications of grading less student assignments. Students were reported to enjoy the additional mystery component in the small group condition. These findings have theoretical and applied implications. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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