The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Applied Behavior Analysis: M.S.


Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Benjamin Witts

Second Advisor

Odessa Luna

Third Advisor

Michele Traub

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

: token board, delay reduction theory, DRT, research to practice, exchange production, generalized conditioned reinforcer


Despite the popularity of token reinforcement in applied settings, little research has been conducted on strategies for optimizing its effectiveness in autism service delivery; however, this work is well-suited for a translational exploration. Employing an alternating treatments design, this paper serves as a pilot study, demonstrating how a random ratio (RR) token-exchange schedule can be arranged and compared to a standard fixed ratio (FR) schedule to examine differences in preference, in trial duration, rate, and accuracy, and in challenging behaviors. Two children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated during regularly scheduled therapy sessions. During Phase 1, we arranged the random ratio token board (RRTB) to allow participants to draw from a cup of red and blue tokens. Tokens could be exchanged for the backup reinforcer contingent on drawing 10 red tokens or one blue token. This was compared to a static token board (STB), during which the client always had to draw 10 white tokens before exchanging. During this phase, one participant showed a strong fixation on the blue tokens, consistent with a phenomenon known as sign tracking. This led researchers to revise the arrangement of the RRTB so that staff used a random number list instead of different colored tokens to determine when participants could exchange. Following Phase 2, differences in trial rate and challenging behaviors revealed that one participant performed better with the RRTB, despite preferring the STB, while the other participant performed better with the STB, despite preferring the RRTB. Limitations and future directions are discussed


I would like to express my gratitude to my thesis chair, Dr. Benjamin Witts, for his knowledge and mentorship from the conception of this project to the final manuscript.

I would also like to thank the other committee members for their thoughtful critiques and recommendations.

Lastly, I am grateful for the support and participation of the agency where this study was conducted and the families involved in this project, without whom this study would not have been possible.



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