Reducing Disruptive Student Verbalizations through the Use of Praise-Based Differential Reinforcement of Behavior and Non-Verbal Cues


Author/Creator ORCID





Masters of Education

Citation of Original Publication


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This study was designed to determine the impact that differential reinforcement of appropriate behavior (DRA) and non-verbal responses to disruptive behavior had on reducing the occurrence of behavior that was disruptive to instruction in a high school classroom. Disruptive behavior was defined as inappropriate talking, shouting out, and/or noise-making during instruction. This study utilized a quasi-experimental design with a pre-test and post-test separated by a period of one month. The dependent variable was the number of inappropriate verbalizations and noise-making made during the introductory drill by selected students for a one-week period. The independent variable was the teacher’s statements praising non-disruptive behavior and the non-verbal actions used to address disruptive behavior starting with teacher proximity, continuing with providing a picture of closed mouth with a silencing finger, and ending with planned ignoring for four minutes before verbal redirection. The participants in this research were five students aged fourteen to eighteen with high records of prior disruptive behavior in the researcher’s Fundamentals of Art class. This study did not find a significant difference in the mean number of disruptive behaviors exhibited by the participants in the pre-test and post-test, t (4) = 1.34, p = .25. The number of disruptive behaviors did decline slightly in the post-test, and this slight reduction suggests that the intervention might have been more effective if administered for a longer duration.