Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Token economy systems have been used successfully in various general and special education classrooms. Although effective, educators seldom have a priori information on the performance of their reinforcers within the schedules of reinforcement that comprise the token economy. Most token economies are initially designed based on clinical judgment and respective schedules are typically selected on an arbitrary basis (e.g., token-production Fixed Ratio 1 [FR1], exchange-production FR5). This introduces uncertainty whereby the initial arrangement may be too lax (i.e., work expectations are low for the student) or too strict (i.e., work expectations are high for the student), which both have the potential to jeopardize the efficacy of an otherwise effective intervention strategy. This study explored this challenge by using the Operant Demand Framework to inform intervention by characterizing the efficacy of reinforcers within a token economy. Specifically, token-exchange and exchange-production schedules were evaluated as a proxy for unit price (i.e., response requirements/ reinforcer magnitude). Furthermore, the optimal arrangement was evaluated across various token-production schedules (e.g., FR1, FR2, VR2) to determine which combination of schedules maintained the highest levels of responding in a token economy system. A concurrent chains procedure was implemented to evaluate individual preferences regarding token-production schedules. The study found that variations in the token-production schedule yielded relatively comparable rates of responding when unit price was held constant. The study also found two distinct patterns of responding in the concurrent chains procedure.



Committee Chair

Gilroy, Shawn



Available for download on Friday, March 27, 2026