Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #52
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

The Relation Between Academic Performance and Challenging Behavior

Sunday, May 29, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Regency Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Gold West
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, Ph.D.
Chair: Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas)
JENNIFER J. MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota)
Jennifer McComas is Professor of Special Education at the University of Minnesota. Dr. McComas was a special education teacher for students, grades 7-12, with high-incidence disabilities in rural Iowa before completing her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. She went on to complete her post-doctoral training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania and taught in the Psychology Department at Queens College/the City University of New York before joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1999. Professor McComas holds the Rodney S. Wallace Professorship for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and is head of the teacher licensure program in Emotional Behavior Disorders at the University of Minnesota. In addition, she co-directs the Urban Indian Education Partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Public Schools, a partnership aimed at improving outcomes for American Indian Youth. Dr. McComas teaches undergraduate, masters, and doctorate-level courses in emotional/behavior disorders, principles of behavior, and functional analysis of challenging behavior in academic and community-based settings. Her recently launched telepresence lab is a means by which to reach families of individuals with intellectual and development disorders and severe behavior problems across a wide geographic area and to conduct related research. Dr. McComas conducts translational research pertaining to the influence of principles of behavior on challenging behavior and using those principles to affect meaningful changes in behavior. She has published in several peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. She is currently the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Behavioral Education, was an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and continues to serve on the editorial board of several journals including the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Psychological Record.

Academic and behavior problems are highly co-morbid, yet little more is known about the relation between the two. Does one lead to the other? It is easy to imagine that as behavior problems persist and instructional time is lost to disciplinary procedures such as time-out and suspension, the lost instructional opportunities result in poor academic performance. However, it is also easy to imagine that as a young student's academic difficulties persist, school becomes increasingly aversive and socially reinforced behavior problems emerge. Effective interventions exist for both learning and behavior problems separately, but is it possible to implement intervention for one and achieve concomitant improvement in the other? If so, under what conditions is it possible to implement treatment that results in improvement in both academic performance and behavior? This presentation will begin with the question of the relation between learning and behavior problems and include data from several investigations of the influence of motivating operations, stimulus control, and reinforcement on academic performance and behavior.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists, certified behavior analysts, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) discuss influence of reinforcement on challenging behavior during academic tasks; (2) discuss the influence of motivating operations on challenging behavior during academic tasks; (3) consider a variety of approaches to the assessment and treatment for students who display poor academic performance and challenging behavior in school.



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