Research Round-Up

Volume 1, Issue 3, November 2022

Table of Contents

  1. Staff Spotlight
  2. Instructional Strategy: Concrete-Representational-Abstract Model for Math
  3. Behavior Strategy: Antecedent Strategies and Reactive vs Proactive Approaches
  4. Tech Tool of the Month: Classkick
  5. Research 101: Single Subject versus Group Design

Staff Spotlight

Emily Gramlich

Lead Behavior Specialist

Antecedent/Proactive Strategies

Antecedent/Proactive Strategies

  1. Why do you use proactive strategies? - I use proactive strategies, also known as, antecedent interventions, as tools to shape and change the way students interact with the school environment and teach alternative behavior(s). These strategies are unique to each student's positive behavior support program as a way to reduce the frequency or prevent distressed behaviors from occurring, while also teaching socially significant behavior change. Examples of proactive strategies include, but are not limited to Behavior Momentum, Premack Principle, Token Economy, Functional Communication Training, Noncontingent Reinforcement, Time-based schedules of reinforcement, Motivating Operations, Sanitized environment, etc.
  2. How have you seen the students respond? - When used accurately, antecedent interventions evoke behavior because they have been correlated with an increased availability of positive or negative reinforcement. I believe students sense organization, autonomy, and achievement of skills when proactive strategies are used to assist in academic and behavior learning.
  3. What do you do if they don't work? - A variety of proactive strategies can be used simultaneously, but that does not mean they are always effective with every student. Always research the proactive strategy before implementation and brainstorm ways on how its evidence-based practice will be achievable in the student's learning environment. Two things I always think of before implementation include conducting a risk-benefit analysis, and pondering questions of social validity. Another great strategy is to ask your behavior specialist to model the antecedent intervention and practice with their feedback!
  4. What recommendations do you have for other staff using this strategy? - I encourage all teachers, instructional assistants, and related service providers to use proactive strategies during all learning opportunities. Proactively create a learning environment of materials and resources that promote organization, excitement, and established expectations.

Concrete-Representational-Abstract Model for Math

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Concrete-Representational-Abstract or CRA is a sequence of instruction that is used to systematically introduce math concepts to students. CRA has been proven successful for multiple math topics from place value, computation, fractions, algebra, and more (Flores et al., 2014; Flores et al., 2020). The CRA model involves introducing the concept using concrete (i.e., movable) manipulatives, followed by the same concept represented with representational (i.e., pictorial) images, and ended with the abstract representation (e.g., digits, numerals).


The CRA Model has a strong research foundation. Originally identified as an evidence-based practice for students with Learning Disabilities, CRA has been found to be effective for students within other disability categories and without any disabilities. Stroizer and colleagues (2015) used a multiple baseline across behaviors design to evaluate the effectiveness of the CRA sequence with three elementary students with Autism on three separate skills: addition with regrouping, subtraction with regrouping, and multiplication facts (0-5). The authors taught each representational model independently of one another (e.g., three lessons using concrete, three lessons using representational, and three lessons using abstract). Results showed that the CRA sequence was effective at improving the students' academic performances.

It is important to note, however, that the CRA sequence does not have to be taught in separate lessons as it was by Stroizer et al. (2015). In fact, Morano and colleagues (2020) compared the effectiveness of teaching each step of the CRA sequence separately and using all three steps in one lesson. They found that both approaches led to positive gains in fraction performance for students with disabilities.

Find both articles below to check out!

Adding & Subtracting Two Digit Numbers - CRA

Antecedent/Proactive Strategies for Challenging Behavior


Antecedent-Based Strategies or Interventions are modifications or changes made to the environment or learning context in order to shape a student's behavior. To use antecedent strategies, you must understand the context and triggers for the behaviors you are targeting, which is why they should be selected using the student's most recent functional behavior assessment.

The goal is to intervene early before the trigger occurs.

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Commonly used Antecedent-Based Strategies are:

  • modifications to activities, schedules, or materials
  • incorporating choice into instruction and activities
  • preparing students for events or changes before they occur (i.e., priming)
  • use of behavioral momentum (i.e., begin with a series of easy or high probability tasks before the target or challenging task)
  • modifying prompting or reinforcement schedules and delivery
  • enriching the environment to provide additional cues or access to materials

Supporting Research

Antecedent Based Strategies and Intervention are a well-established evidence-based practice (EBP) in Autism research. Adcock and Cuvo (2009) used preference assessments to identify the preferred reinforcers for three elementary students with Autism. The intervention involved presenting the task for the day (e.g., "Today, we are going to work on subtraction problems") and then five reinforcers determined from the assessment. The student was given the choice of reinforcer and would immediately receive it when the task was complete. Using a multiple-baseline across tasks design, the authors found the antecedent intervention to be effective for increasing correct responding on chosen tasks.
Antecedent Intervention for Escape
Antecedent Intervention for Attention


Classkick is a FREE resource that allows teachers to prepare materials and watch students work in real-time. You are able to monitor student work and provide private and individualized feedback. You can upload worksheets to the platform or use it as a virtual whiteboard.

It contains the following features:

  • auto-grading
  • audio features for teachers or student responses
  • virtual manipulatives
  • feedback stickers
  • individualized and independently paced work
  • and many more!

Research 101: Single-Subject vs. Group Designs

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Questions or concerns?

Emma Fisher

Director of Research and Development