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Choice Making

By Sarah Richardson and Claire Murphy, 9/2022

What is Choice Making?                                                                                     

Choice Making is a school-based, Tier 2-3 behavior intervention that can be used with K-12 students. This intervention targets students who are capable of engaging in a task, but are choosing not to do so. This intervention allows the student to make a task selection, or choose the order in which tasks are to be completed. In doing so, we provide the student with additional opportunities to engage in the content, and additionally provide them with opportunities to make choices in an environment where choices are typically made for them. In the task selection option, teachers provide two activities that address the same content, but have a different format of completion. The student is then allowed to pick their preferred activity of the multiple presented. In the order option, teachers give the student a list of assignments, and the student is allowed to choose the order in which they will complete these tasks. These two methods can be combined, so students get a choice of both the type and order that tasks are completed. 

Components of Choice Making

  • For the task-selection condition, at least two tasks must be offered to the student with comparable content, meaning they are of roughly the same rigor and the student will come away with the same learning outcome. 

  • For the order-selection condition, teachers need to have an assignment list prepped before introducing it to the student for selection. The timeline for completion of the tasks should be similar to their peers to ensure that the student does not get behind. 

  • Provide clear timelines for when the student is expected to complete the task(s). 

  • Provide frequent feedback and reminders based on the expectations and timelines of the task(s). The teacher should keep an independent record of the task(s) assigned to the student and their subsequent deadlines. 

  • Give positive praise for the timely completion of the task(s), and following expectations. This can come in the form of verbal or tangible reward. 

  • Be prepared with a response if other students inquire about the use of the intervention with another student. Explain that the student is being offered options to promote success and that the work completion expectation is the same for them. 

  • The student needs to be capable of the tasks presented to them, and these need to be developmentally appropriate. 

  • Students need self-management skills, organization skills, executive functioning skills, and appropriate comprehension skills to engage in this intervention.  

  • Cost: This intervention can be done with no cost to you! However, if you would like to incorporate rewards with a monetary value, this cost will need to be considered. 

Evidence of Choice Making Effectiveness

An increasingly growing body of research suggests that choice making holds critical value, especially for students presenting with disabilities. Additionally, this intervention has been shown in several studies to be effective at reducing problem behaviors (Shogren et al., 2004). In a meta-analysis of 13 studies examining the effectiveness of Choice Making, Shogren et al. (2004) found that overall providing choices resulted in a significant reduction in the observation of problem behavior across studies. In another study done by Dunlap et al. (1994), researchers examined the effect of Choice Making in two elementary school students presenting with problem behaviors. The study showed that the choice-making conditions were met with increased task-engagement and reduced problem behaviors in both students. Finally, in a study done by Romaniuk at al. (2002), researchers sought to analyze the effect of Choice Making on students presenting with problem behaviors with the function of gaining attention versus escape. The results suggest that those students with escape-maintained problem behaviors showed a significant reduction in these behaviors. By contrast, students designated with attention-maintained problem behaviors showed no effect in the reduction of their problem behaviors. 


Dunlap, G., DePerczel, M., Clarke, S., Wilson, D., Wright, S., White, R., & Gomez, A. (1994). Choice making to promote adaptive behavior for students with emotional and behavioral challenges. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(3), 505-518.


Evidence based intervention network. Evidence Based Intervention Network Choice Making Comments. (2013, April 8). Retrieved October 5, 2022, from,assignment%20choice%20and%2For%20order.


Romaniuk, C., Miltenberger, R., Conyers, C., Jenner, N., Jurgens, M., & Ringenberg, C. (2002). The influence of activity choice on problem behaviors maintained by escape versus attention. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 35(4), 349-362.


Shogren, K. A., Faggella-Luby, M. N., Bae, S., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2004). The Effect of Choice-Making as an Intervention for Problem Behavior: A Meta-Analysis. Journal Of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(4), 228-237. 

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