Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Claire St Peter

Committee Co-Chair

Karen G Anderson

Committee Member

Regina Carroll

Committee Member

Amy Herschell

Committee Member

Alexandra Hollo


Timeout is an effective behavior-reduction strategy with considerable generality. There are several recommendations about how to implement timeout. However, little research has investigated how timeout is implemented under natural conditions, or how timeout-implementation errors impact its effectiveness. Thus, our study attempted to address two aims. The first aim was to observe how teachers implemented timeout with their students. To address this aim (Experiment 1), we completed naturalistic observations of teachers who were implementing timeout during play. We collected data on how frequently the teachers implemented timeout following problem behavior (omission integrity), and how frequently teachers implemented timeout following responses not targeted for timeout (commission integrity). Experiment 1 data showed that teachers rarely implemented timeout; when the teachers did implement timeout, they often did not follow the timeout parameters specified initially. The second aim was to evaluate what effects inconsistent timeout implementation has on student behavior. To address this aim (Experiment 2), we evaluated the effects of inconsistent timeout on rates of problem behavior. Specifically, we used a reversal design to compare implementation of timeout at 0%, 100%, and reduced integrity (e.g., 11% integrity). The specific level of integrity implemented during the reduced-integrity phases was based upon the omission integrity observed for each student during Experiment 1. The data from Experiment 2 showed that timeout implemented with high integrity decreased problem behavior for two of four students. For one student, reduced-integrity implementation also decreased problem behavior. Due to low rates of problem behavior and participant attrition, three of four participants did not complete Experiment 2. Although our conclusions are limited, these data allowed us to make clinical recommendations about how the teachers should implement timeout with their students. Our results also have important implications for the application of timeout in schools and for future research.