How to Identify a Student's Reinforcers

Reinforcers must be valued, preferred and individualized; they should be reinforcing to the student rather than just a convenience for staff. They must also be appropriate for the school setting. Remember, that what may be extremely reinforcing for one student may not be for another student. Here are some guidelines for choosing a student's reinforcer:

1. Observe the Student: What kinds of activities does the student seek out? What events or objects
    currently serve as a reinforcer for the student?


2. Ask the Student: Ask the student what s/he would like to try to earn when designing a plan to
    modify behavior.
You can also use pen and paper reinforcer assessments such as a Forced Choice
    Reinforcement Menu
, Reinforcer Assessment Form, Reinforcer Menu for Elementary Students or a
    Reinforcer Preference Assessment for Secondary Students.

3. Monitor: Periodically review by observation and discussion whether the reinforcer remains preferred
    or whether a new reinforcer is desired.


Remember that preferred reinforcers can frequently change - even within the same day!
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