Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Brian K. Martens


Academic Behavior, Behavior Analysis, Magnitude, Reinforcement, Resurgence

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Several studies have looked at ways to mitigate resurgence of challenging behavior by manipulating dimensions of reinforcement for an alternative behavior. To date, only one study has examined differences in resurgence following different magnitudes of reinforcement for an alternative behavior, and only one study has addressed resurgence in an academic setting. The current study evaluated the magnitude of resurgence of a target academic response when large- or small-magnitude reinforcement for an alternative behavior was provided and then all responses were placed on extinction in a subsequent phase. Four students, not receiving academic or behavioral services, were recruited from a suburban elementary school in Central New York. Students earned tokens for working on math problems, and the rate of problem completion was measured across sessions. In Phase 1, completing addition problems was reinforced. In Phase 2, completing subtraction problems was reinforced, but not addition problems. Finally, in Phase 3A/3B, reinforcement was not provided for any response (i.e., extinction). In Phase 3A, extinction was not signaled and resurgence was only observed in 3 of the 4 students. In Phase 3B, extinction was signaled and resurgence of the target response occurred for all four participants, with variable levels across the large- and small-magnitude conditions. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.


Open Access