The Suppression of Disruptive Classroom Behavior with Three Durations of Timeout
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The problem. Previous research on timeout duration has suggested that short duration timeouts would not be effective when presented following a history of longer duration timeout. This study analyzed the suppressive effects of short duration timeout both prior to and following a longer duration and compared those conditions with a very brief 15 sec timeout. Procedure. The subjects were four very disruptive, retarded children attending a classroom that met for two sessions per day, five days per week. The observers used an interval recording procedure to record three of the four students' disruptive behaviors and a time sampling procedure to record the fourth child's off-task behavior. Both the rate of edible reinforcers and the rate of teacher instructions given to each child were held constant throughout all phases of the study. A single-subject reversal design was employed and featured one of the three timeout durations (15 sec, 1 min, 5 min) alternating with baselines. Findings. The finding of similar suppression of disruptive behaviors with all three durations suggests that timeout duration may not be the critical parameter in determining the suppressiveness of timeout. Also, the 15 sec timeout duration provided students a greater availability for classroom instruction than the 5 min duration.
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