A systematic evaluation of token economies as a classroom management tool for students with challenging behavior

J Sch Psychol. 2011 Oct;49(5):529-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 Jun 28.


A two-part systematic review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of token economies in increasing rates of appropriate classroom behavior for students demonstrating behavioral difficulties. The first part of the review utilized the recently published What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards for evaluating single-subject research to determine the extent to which eligible studies demonstrated sufficient evidence to classify the token economy as an evidence-based practice. The second part of the review employed meta-analytic techniques across four different types of effect sizes to evaluate the quantitative strength of the findings. Methodological strengths and weaknesses across the studies were systematically investigated. Results indicated that the extant research on token economies does not provide sufficient evidence to be deemed best-practice based on the WWC criteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy
  • Humans
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology*
  • Token Economy*