Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



There has been a recent push in the literature to identify and use more evidence-based practices for positive behavioral supports for challenging student behaviors in the classroom environment. Further, interest in targeting early education environments such as preschool has been growing given the persistence of behavioral difficulties in the absence of early and effective intervention (Campbell & Ewing, 1990; Kazdin, 1987; Powell et al., 2006; Stormont, 2002). Two previous meta-analyses (Maggin et al., 2011; Soares et al., 2016) provided some initial support for effectiveness of token economies with challenging student behavior; however, the inclusion of the preschool setting was limited and both studies used older versions of design standards to evaluate the quality of studies in the literature. The present study served to extend those meta-analyses by targeting preschool classrooms. Further, the current study included the most recent What Works Clearinghouse Design Standards to evaluate whether token economies meet criteria as an evidence-based practice. Ten studies were included in the final analyses. Two sets of effect sizes were calculated: Baseline-Corrected Tau and Hedge’s g. An omnibus effect size showed an overall large effect; however, similar to previous meta-analyses, several methodological concerns were identified. Moderator analyses for several variables were conducted; however, no moderator analyses were significant. Limitations and future directions were discussed.