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4.5: Pre-Correction

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    The final behavioral strategy that we’re going to discuss is termed pre-correction. Precorrection is typically thought of as a Tier2 intervention, though its utility as an individualized intervention is also sound (Colvin, Sugai, & Patching, 1993; Ennis, Scwaab, & Jolivette, 2012). Pre-correction is a preventative strategy that has been shown to reduce a variety of problem behaviors through a systematic process (Colvin et al., 1993). While it may be that simply discussing with a student prior to a possible problem situation may alleviate disturbances, Colvin and colleagues describe pre-correction as a seven step process.

    Identify Context and Target Behavior

    Similar to conducting any behavioral intervention, pre-correction first step is to identify both the context for the behavior and the predictable behavior in that context. So, the first step in the process is to conduct a brief structural behavioral assessment (Losinski,Maag, Katsiyannis, & Ryan, 2015). This assessment would look at specific contexts where the behavior is more likely to occur, much like a functional behavioral assessment, but without data collection on maintaining consequences of behaviors. In essence, we would be looking at the specific times of day, location, and other variables when the behavior is likely to occur. For our illustrative purposes, we are going to discuss Willow’s inattention in math class, and drawing mean pictures of the teacher. The context of the situation is math class, specifically when Mr. Zeller is there.

    Define Expected Behavior

    Obviously, Willow drawing pictures of Mr. Zeller during math class is not a good thing. Therefore, we need to identify the acceptable behaviors during math. In this case, we will be looking for Willow to refrain from drawing pictures of Mr. Zeller, and attending two assigned tasks. You might say not drawing all, but in this instance we may wish to go with baby steps, and settle for not taunting Mr. Zeller. In some instances, the school may have school-wide expectations for certain areas (e.g., lunch room rules), and those expectations can be substituted for the expected behavior.

    Modify the Context

    Modifying the context may be the most difficult part of precorrection. Much like the structural behavioral assessment described earlier, to the extent appropriate, changes are made to the context to increase instances of pro-social behavior. As Ennis, Schwab, & Jolivette, 2012 describe, “For example, if a teacher examines classwide data and notices that there are high levels of problem behaviors while using manipulatives in the classroom, he or she can reorganize how manipulatives are stored, ensure there are enough for everyone to have their own set” (pp. 41). With respect to Willow, aside from being able to change her schedule so that she is not in Mr. Zeller is class anymore, we would need to be creative on how exactly to change the context. One idea may be to change Willow’s seat to the location provides more or less supervision. Without going through the entire structural behavioral assessment, however these changes would be guesswork. It should be noted, however that the structural behavioral assessment process while laborious is more likely to come up with contextual variables that can be manipulated to improve the student behavior.

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    Practice the Expected Behavior

    The next step in the process involves providing opportunities to rehearse the expected behavior. This could be accomplished through the teacher reviewing the expected behavior, have the student convey that they understand what is expected, and provide an opportunity to demonstrate that they can accomplish the expected behavior. This could also be an opportunity where video modeling (see Losinski, Wiseman, White, & Balluch, 2016) could be used to reinforce the expectations that are to happen in the classroom.

    Reinforce the Expected Behavior

    Obviously reinforcement of the expected behavior is contingent on the student’s utilization of the preferred behavior. According to Ennis et al., (2012), reinforcement could be delivered on a daily, weekly or even a monthly basis. Teachers should discuss with the student what an effective reward would be for them. In the case of Willow, lots of mascara, black lipstick, and drawing pads. It might also be that we would allow Willow extra time drawing if she demonstrates the expected behaviors.

    Provide Prompts for the Expected Behavior

    This is the part of Pre-correction that coined the term! In this step we create a plan to remind the student to engage in the expected behavior. According to Ennis et al., (2012), this could involve a system of least-to-most prompts, where the intensity of prompts is increased concurrent with the student failing to demonstrate the expected behavior. In Willow’s case, we would discuss with Willow prior to math class what the expectations are for math class. The prompts are intended to remind the student of the expectations of the new situation before entering it. In this way they are able to cognitively rehearse their successes before entering the context.

    Monitor Progress

    As with the use of the other behavior management strategies detailed here, progress monitoring is a central part. It will always be important to determine if this intervention is paying off, or if modifications need to be made to it. Additionally, certain methods of reinforcement may necessitate keeping accurate records so that reinforcement could be given at later time. For example, if Willow were to earn a piece of illustration board and a broad tip Prismacolor pen for exhibiting appropriate behaviors over five consecutive days, an accurate measurement system that she is aware of would need to be in effect. Again, the daily behavior report system could be utilized in this fashion.


    The methods detailed in this chapter reflect state of the art, low-intensity interventions that are effective in reducing problematic behavior. It should be noted that none of these are guaranteed to work for every child, however they allow teachers in the secondary schools validated starting points with which to address, common student problems. It should also be noted that they do not have to be used in solidarity. Indeed, the three interventions discussed herein could easily be worked into a single behavior intervention plan where BSP and pre-correction are used within a check-in, check-out home note system.

    This page titled 4.5: Pre-Correction is shared under a CC BY-ND license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mickey Losinski (New Prairie Press/Kansas State University Libraries) .

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