Effects of Task Difficulty on the Disruptive and On-Task Behavior of Students with Severe Behavior Disorders

Document Type


Publication Date



It has been proposed that academic materials presented to students with emotional and behavioral disorders may serve in some situations as aversive stimuli that increase escape and/or avoidance responses. The results from two single subject studies using ABAB designs that were conducted to examine the effects of the difficulty level of academic tasks (i.e., easy versus difficult) on both the disruptive and on-task behaviors of students with severe behavior disorders are presented. Results indicated that difficult tasks were generally associated with lower percentages of time on-task and higher percentages of time engaged in disruptive behavior than were easy task conditions. Implications for teachers of students with severe behavioral disorders are discussed.

Recommended Citation

DePaepe, Paris A., Richard E. Shores, Susan L. Jack, and R. Kenton Denny. "Effects of task difficulty on the disruptive and on-task behavior of students with severe behavior disorders." Behavioral Disorders 21, no. 3 (1996): 216-225.

DOI for the article