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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Compliance Strategies

One of the issues teachers regularly discuss are students who are non-compliant in the classroom.  These students have a tremendous impact on classroom dynamics and outcomes for other students and can be frustrating for all the people involved.  So what do we do?  The biggest impact that teachers can have with students who are non-compliant typically occur when a relationship has been developed between the teacher and the student.  This however can take many months if not years to develop.  Here are a few tips from Vanderbilt University to apply to your classroom management policies:

Tip Sheet: Compliance Strategies

The use of positive behavior supports (PBS) is mandated by federal law (IDEA, 2004). Within PBS, there are three tiers of support with corresponding goals and activities:
(Lewis & Sugai, 1999)
o   Tier 1 - Prevent academic and behavior problems: school wide academic & behavior interventions;
o   Tier 2 - Prevent the development of more serious problems and improve problem behavior: target interventions for students not responding to Tier 1;
o   Tier 3 - Decrease impact of antisocial behavior on a student’s daily functioning: develop individualized intervention to meet the unique needs of student.
Using effective compliance strategies can facilitate the goals at all three tiers of PBS, especially at Tiers 1 and 2.

Give Effective Commands

Definition of Noncompliance: There are four types of noncompliance (Walker et al., 2004)
·         Passive noncompliance: student simply does not to perform requested behavior but is not overtly noncompliant (simply ignores directive – not angry or hostile).
·         Simple refusal: student acknowledge the direction but indicates via words or gestures that he/she does not intend to comply – not angry unless command persists or there are adult attempts to force the issues.
·         Direct defiance: student displays hostility, anger, overt resistance and attempts to intimidate.
·         Negotiation: student attempts to bargain, compromise; proposes alternative solutions.
By addressing noncompliance at the early stage, teachers can prevent the escalation of more serious behaviors.

Strategies (Walker et al., 2004)
·         Only give as many commands as needed (decreased compliance occurs with increases in the number of commands given)
·         Obtain student attention and eye contact
·         Use more “initiating: (or “start”) commands versus “terminating (or “stop”) commands
·         Deliver one directive or command at a time – for tasks with multiple steps, give a separate command for each step
·         Use clear, concise, and specific language (“alpha” commands)
·         Allow time for student to comply
·         Only give the command two times – if not followed after second time, provide consequence for noncompliance
·         Give direction from a distance of three feet.
·         Use a matter-of-fact and nonemotional tone of voice (do not yell, plead or threaten)
·         Reinforce compliance!
Literature to support the use of effective commands (Neef et al., 1983; Walker, 1995; Walker, et al., 2004; Walker & Walker, 1991)

Use Precision Requests

Definition: A method for delivering teacher directions to prompt compliance and consistently follow up noncompliance (Jenson & Reavis, 1997).

Steps (Jenson, & Reavis, 1997)
1)      1st request for compliance using “Please"  and characteristics of effective commands
I use the technique of "thanking the student"  rather than starting with the "Please"  You have to find your own method that works for you.  
2)      Wait 5 seconds – if there is compliance: REINFORCE!
3)      Noncompliance: Repeat request using signal words: You need to …”
4)      Compliance: REINFORCE!
5)      Noncompliance: mild preplanned negative consequence (e.g., loss of opportunity to earn token for that time period)

Evidence: DeMartini-Scully et al., 2000; Kehle et al., 2000; Mackay et al., 2001; Musser et al., 2001; Neville & Jenson, 1984
Note: Consider using Precision Requests in combination with other strategies as part of a multicomponent intervention (e.g., Kehle et al., 2000)

Engage in Active Supervision

Definition – “those behaviors displayed by supervisors designed to encourage more appropriate student behavior and to discourage rule violations" (Lewis, Sugai, & Colvin, 2000; p. 110)

Implementation (Lewis, et al., 2000)
·         Monitor large, common areas (e.g., gym, hallway, playground)
·         Move and interact with students
·         Scan: correct inappropriate behavior and reinforce appropriate behavior

Evidence: Colvin et al., 1997; De Pry & Sugai, 2002; Lewis et al., 2000; Schuldheisz & van der Mars, 2001

Offer Choices

Definition: Offering a student two or more options and allowing student to independently select an options

·         Choice can provide students an opportunity to have control over their environments
·         Choice can be used to encourage and support appropriate behaviors and academic growth in a variety of ways for students without disabilities and with high incidence and severe disabilities:
o   Choice of routine activity and steps within activity (Dibley & Lim, 1999)
o   Choice of academic task (Dunlap et al., 1994) 
o   Choice of task sequence for students with EBD (Jolivette et al., 2001)
o   Choice of math intervention for general education students  (Carson & Eckert, 2003)
o   Choice of task and reinforcement for students with severe disabilities (Cosden et al., 1995)
·         Also see Morgan (2006) for classroom application.

Evidence: see above

Use High Probability Request Sequence (HPRS)

Definition (Oliver & Skinner, 2003):
·         The presentation of a series of directions that a student is likely to perform  (i.e., high-p command) delivered immediately before a request that a student is less likely to perform (i.e., low-p command)
o   “High-p” teacher commands  = 80% or better compliance
o   “Low-p” teacher commands = 40-50% or less
·         Using a series of high-p requests to build behavioral momentum in order to increase the probability of compliance with the low-p request
·         The high probability request sequence establishes a learning history

Steps (Davis, 1995)
1)      Deliver a series of three to five high-p commands at a rapid pace
2)      Provide praise for each performance of the high-p command
3)      Deliver a low-p command
4)      Provide praise for the performance of the low-p request

Example: A teacher can ask a student to give me five, touch your nose, clap your hands (high-p commands) just before directing the student to get out her textbook (low-p command).

Demonstrated effectiveness across academic settings (inclusion and special education classrooms) and across different disabilities, including students with severe disabilities as well as young children without disabilities (e.g., Lee, 2005; Davis et al., 1993; Davis & Brady, 1994; Davis & Reichle, 1996; Jung et al., 2008; Wehby & Hollahan, 2000).


Carson, P. M., & Eckert, T. L. (2003). An experimental analysis of mathematics instructional
components: Examining the effects of student- selected versus empirically selected interventions. Journal of Behavioral Education, 12, 35-54.

Colvin, G., Sugai, G., Good, R. H., III, & Lee, Y-Y. (1997). Using active supervision and
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Cosden, M., Gannon, C., & Haring, T. G. (1995). Teacher-control versus student-control over
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Davis, C. A. (1995). Peer as behavior change agents for preschoolers with behavioral disorders.
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Davis, C. A., & Brady, M. P. (1993). Expanding the utility of behavioral momentum with young
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Davis, C. A., Brady, M. P., Hamilton, R., McEvoy, M. A., & Williams, R. E. (1994). Effects of
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Davis, C. A., & Reichle, J. (1996).Variant and invariant high probability requests: Increasing
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De Martini-Scully, D., Bray, M. A., & Kehle, T. J. (2000). A packaged intervention to reduce
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De Pry, R. L., & Sugai, G. (2002). The effect of active supervision and pre-correction on minor
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Kehle, T. M., Bray, M. A., Theodore, L., & Jenson, W. R. (2000). A multi-component
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Lewis, T., Sugai, G., & Colvin, G. (2000). The effects of pre-correction and active supervision on
the recess behavior of elementary students. Education and Treatment of Children, 23(2), 109-121.

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Morgan, P. (2006). Increasing task engagement using preference or choice-making: Some
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