WWC review of this study

The Effect of the Extinction Procedure in Function-Based Intervention

Janney, Donna M.; Umbreit, John; Ferro, Jolenea B.; Liaupsin, Carl J.; Lane, Kathleen L. (2013). Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, v15 n2 p113-123. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1010888

  • Single Case Design
    , grades

Reviewed: December 2016

Meets WWC standards with reservations

To view more detailed information about the study findings from this review, please see Functional Behavioral Assessment-based Interventions Intervention Report (977 KB)

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Male: 100%
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The study took place in general education classrooms in one elementary school in the southwestern United States.

Study sample

The study sample included three male students, Hugo, Tomas, and Eric, all of whom were at risk for an emotional and behavioral disorder and below average in academic competence. Their teachers had sought help from the school’s student behavior intervention team because of the students’ behavior and academic problems. Hugo was 6 years old and in the first grade. Tomas was 7 years old and in the second grade. Eric was 8 years old and in the third grade.


Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures included reviews of student records, interviews with teachers and students, and direct observations. Results of the FBA suggested that Hugo displayed off-task behavior to obtain attention from his teacher. Tomas displayed off-task behavior when having difficulty with academic tasks; teacher and peer attention reinforced his off-task behavior. Eric engaged in off-task behavior during writing activities, especially when he was having difficulty; his off-task behavior was reinforced when he did not have to finish the task and when he received teacher attention. Each student had slightly different intervention features. Hugo’s FBA-based intervention included sitting close to the teacher, providing teacher attention if he was on task for 1 minute or longer, and redirecting off-task behavior once and then ignoring subsequent problem behaviors (referred to as extinction). Tomas’s FBA-based intervention included using clear verbal instructions for transition behavior, providing teacher attention if he was on task for 1 minute or longer, and redirecting problem behavior once and then ignoring subsequent problem behaviors. For Eric, the FBA-based intervention involved sitting close to the teacher, offering small group instruction and shortened assignments, providing teacher attention if he was on task for 1 minute or longer, and redirecting behavior once and then ignoring subsequent off-task behaviors, as well as maintaining the given task until it was completed. The WWC visual analyses for each student focuses only on the initial ABAB phases of the reversal/withdrawal design, which compared the baseline condition to the full FBA-based intervention, including the extinction procedure. However, the study also compared the FBA-based intervention to a partial intervention phase, without extinction. This comparison is not of interest for this review because it does not compare the effect of an FBA-based intervention to a non-FBA-based intervention.


The study used a reversal-withdrawal design for all three students. The baseline/withdrawal condition consisted of normal practices in each classroom.

Support for implementation

The research team gave teachers daily feedback on their implementation of the intervention. The primary observer also gave the teacher a signal to indicate that it was time for the teacher to give reinforcement for on-task behavior.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Janney, D. M. (2009). A component analysis of function-based intervention: the role of the extinction procedure. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3352975)


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