Is the three-term contingency trial a predictor of effective instruction?


Two experiments are reported which test the effect of increased three-term contingency trials on students' correct and incorrect math responses. Experiment 1 included two junior high school students in need of special instruction in mathematics while in Experiment 2 two other students with similar instructional needs from the same classroom were studied. In the first experiment the increased rate of presentation (3 times the baseline rate) was done without regard to whether the antecedent teacher presentations to the student were presented vocally or in written form; in the second experiment, the rates of presentation were systematically rotated across written and vocal presentations. The dependent variables were rate per minute of correct and incorrect responses of students (vocal or written). The experiments used designs incorporating features of the multiple baseline (Students A and B) and reversal (Students B, C, and D). The data showed that increasing the number of three-term trials increased correct rates while incorrect rates remained relatively low. The second experiment replicated these findings with two other students and found that the treatment effect occurred independently with vocal and written antecedents when each was isolated. The results warrant further research to test whether or not rates of presentation of three-term contingency trials are predictors of effective instruction.

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Correspondence to R. Douglas Greer Ph.D..

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Albers, A.E., Greer, R.D. Is the three-term contingency trial a predictor of effective instruction?. J Behav Educ 1, 337–354 (1991).

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Key words

  • effective instruction
  • math instruction
  • teacher behavior