Effect Size and Moderators of Effects for Token Economy Interventions
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There is a clear call to use evidence-based practice (EBP) in schools, and a growing knowledge base of practices that have proven to be effective in helping students achieve in educational settings. In addition, the current trends of Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) and Response to Intervention (RtI) advocate for preventative and proactive strategies. Token economies (TE) are one intervention that is proactive and can be flexible to use with students across a wide range of behaviors and settings. According to Higgins, Williams, and McLaughlin, token economy (TE) is an effective way to improve classroom behavior. Unfortunately, limited recent research is available that evaluated the effects and moderators of token economies in classroom settings. The purpose of this investigation was to Meta-analyze the single case research on TE implemented in school and is the first to offer effect size analysis and identify moderators. The use of TE's has been widely established as an evidence-based intervention for use in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and school settings. However, very few articles discuss size of effects to expect, the essential elements required, or the practical implementation issues within a classroom. Many myths surround the use of a TE, i.e., many assume a token system is effective only for individuals and this is not so, as TE is effective for groups as well as individuals. In an age of accountability and emphasis on preventative evidence based practice evidence for using a TE and how to implement a TE is needed in our literature. Empirical evidence for the use of a token economy in a classroom is presented along with suggested implementation ideas. Twenty four studies were included in this Meta-analysis with an overall combined Tau-U ES of .78 of data showing improvement between phase A and B with CI90 [.72, .83]. Tau-U effect sizes ranged from .35 to 1.0. TE is effective with all ages evaluated (ages 3 - 15); however, statistically significant results indicated it was more effective with ages 6 - 15. Active ingredients (i.e. procedural steps) were evaluated, combined, and reported. Results indicate that TE is an evidence-based intervention to increase academic readiness behaviors and to decrease inappropriate behaviors.
Soares, Denise (2011). Effect Size and Moderators of Effects for Token Economy Interventions. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from