Information on this page about the interventions is based on the book, Prevent-Teach-Reinforce: The School-Based Model of Individualized Positive Behavior Support, Second Edition by G. Dunlap, R. Iovannone, D. Kincaid, K. Wilson, K. Christiansen, and P. S. Strain. 

What is the strategy? Why does it work?

Opportunities to respond (OTR) is direct instructional delivery that provides a high level of student-teacher interaction via the use of teacher questioning, student-responding, and teacher feedback. There are several categories of OTRs. For teacher-directed individual responding. the teacher provides a direct question or gives a task assignment to a specific student and requires the student to respond orally or physically, followed by teacher feedback. For teacher-directed unison responding, the teacher provides a direct question/task to all students and all are given an opportunity to respond in unison. The teacher provides feedback to the entire class. In student-to-student responding, students work collaboratively in pairs or teams and provide each other with OTR and feedback.

OTRs have been shown to increase student engagement during academic times by focusing them on the content and motivating all students to contribute. It gives the teacher a structure for providing feedback to students at a higher rate than other instructional methods. It also provides the teacher with an overview of student acquisition of content. By increasing the engagement of students, there is less opportunity for them to engage in challenging behavior. This reduces the amount of time teachers spend addressing challenging behaviors and concurrently increases the time spent on instruction.

Functions and antecedents the increase OTRs intervention works for

If the challenging behavior…

  • is maintained by teacher and/or peer attention
  • is triggered by demands to do non-preferred tasks that involve independent work, lecture, or is lengthy/difficult

Steps for Implementation

  1. Identify the academic contexts in which the challenging behavior occurs.
  2. Review the PTR hypothesis and select categories of OTRs that would best be used for delivering the instructional content and providing the student with increased opportunities to respond while considering the function of the challenging behavior.
    • If the teacher desires to implement the strategy so that it impacts other students, and the student is reinforced by both adult and peer attention, group responding may be best.
    • If the student is more motivated by peer attention, student-to-student responding may be best.
    • If the student is motivated by direct teacher attention, the individual responding method may be selected.
  3. Select and describe specific methods for increasing the opportunities to respond within the category. Determine if additional materials need to be provided to students or if the intervention will need to be developed based on resources readily available.
    • For example, if the teacher wants to use whiteboards and markers, a plan for providing the whiteboards will be necessary if the teacher does not have any whiteboards available.
  4. Decide upon the type of feedback that will be given after every OTR.
  5. Identify a goal for OTRs.
    • Research recommends that teachers should provide 3 OTRs per minute for general education students (Scott et al., 2011; Whitney et al., 2015). For novel material, OTRs should increase to 4-6 per minute. If it is content that is being reviewed, guidelines are 8- 12 OTRs per minute (Sutherland & Wehby, 2001).
  6. Determine if any pre-teaching needs to occur to get students ready for OTRs.
    • For example, if tablets and polling will be used, the teacher may need to set up a practice lesson prior to using it for teaching content.

How to implement this strategy in multiple ways (examples & resources)

Menu of OTRs from Haydon et al. (2012)

  • Examples of Unison Responding
    • Voting with a hand raise
    • Giving a thumbs-up/down, holding up a specific number of fingers to indicate response
    • Choral verbal responding
    • Response cards with answers printed on each (e.g., yes/no, number or letter indicating correct multiple choice response)
    • Provide students with a personal white board and marker; students write their responses on the white board and then hold it up upon teacher signal
    • On-line polling- teachers provide a link to a prepared poll that is embedded in their presentation to class; class uses computers or tablets to go to poll when directed, enter their response).
  • Examples of oral responding
    • Choral responding
    • Think-pair-share
    • Partner response
    • Individual questioning
  • Examples of written responding
    • Response cards
    • White-boards
    • Think-jot-share
    • Pair and write
    • Guided notes
  • Examples of action responding
    • Touching/pointing
    • Gestures
    • Acting out
    • Hand signals
    • Facial expressions

Supporting Research

Çakıroğlu, O. (2014). Effects of preprinted response cards on rates of academic response, opportunities to respond, and correct academic responses of students with mild intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 39(1), 7385.

Cuticelli, M., Collier-Meek, M. and Coyne, M. (2016), Increasing the quality of tier 1 reading instruction: Using performance feedback to increase opportunities to respond during implementation of a core reading program. Psychology in the Schools, 53(1), 89105.

Harbour, K. E., Evanovich, L. L., Sweigart, C. A., & Hughes, L. E. (2015). A brief review of effective teaching practices that maximize student engagement. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 59(1), 5–13.

Haydon, T., Conroy, M. A., Scott, T. M., Sindelar, P. T., Barber, B. R., & Orlando, A. M. (2010). A comparison of three types of opportunities to respond on student academic and social behaviors. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 18(1), 27–40.

Haydon, T., Macsuga-Gage, A. S., Simonsen, B., & Hawkins, R. (2012). Opportunities to respond: A key component of effective instruction. Beyond Behavior, 22(1), 23–31.

Lamella, L., & Tincani, M. (2012). Brief wait time to increase response opportunity and correct responding of children with autism spectrum disorder who display challenging behavior. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 24(6), 559–573.

McComas, J. J., Downwind, I., Klingbeil, D. A., Petersen-Brown, S., Davidson, K. M., & Parker, D. C. (2017). Relations between instructional practices and on-task behavior in classrooms serving American Indian students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 33(2), 89–108.

Moore Partin, T. C., Robertson, R. E., Maggin, D. M., Oliver, R. M., & Wehby, J. H. (2009). Using teacher praise and opportunities to respond to promote appropriate student behavior. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 54(3), 172–178.

Scott, T. M., Alter, P. J., & Hirn, R. G. (2011). An examination of typical classroom context and instruction for students with and without behavioral disorders. Education & Treatment of Children, 34(4), 619–641.

Skinner, C. H., Pappas, D. N., & Davis, K. A. (2005). Enhancing academic engagement: providing opportunities for responding and influencing students to choose to respond. Psychology in the Schools, 42(4), 389–403.

Stichter, J. P., Lewis, T. J., Whittaker, T. A., Richter, M., Johnson, N. W., & Trussell, R. P. (2009). Assessing teacher use of opportunities to respond and effective classroom management strategies: Comparisons among high- and low-risk elementary schools. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11(2), 68–81.

Sutherland, K. S., & Wehby, J. H. (2001). Exploring the relationship between increased opportunities to respond to academic requests and the academic and behavioral outcomes of students with EBD: A review. Remedial and Special Education, 22(2), 113–121.

Van Camp, A. M., Wehby, J. H., Martin, B. L. N., Wright, J. R., & Sutherland, K. S. (2020). Increasing opportunities to respond to intensify academic and behavioral interventions: A meta-analysis. School Psychology Review, 49(1), 31–46.

Whitney, T., Cooper, J. T., &  Lingo, A. S. (2015). Providing student opportunities to respond in reading and mathematics: A look across grade levels. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 59(1), 14–21.