Reinforcement inventories

One of the keys in developing successful individual plans and transition plans is finding out about the students’ favourite activities, interests and strengths then using them. These can then be used as rewards or ‘reinforcers’, particularly when encouraging students to complete or try new tasks or supporting behaviour. Using a reinforcement inventory is a great way of collecting and sharing this valuable knowledge. 

What is a reinforcement inventory?

The reinforcement inventory (R.I.) is used to gather up-to-date information about a student’s interests and preferred activities as well as their dislikes. The aim is to know which rewards are likely to be successful in reinforcing the student’s participation and engagement in learning.

It is a valuable tool that:

  • draws on detailed information from all those involved and information from the Planning Matrix
  • can be succinct or extensive depending on the needs of the student
  • is updated to keep up with the students’ changing and developing interests
  • is a document for all staff, not only the individual teacher
  • is useful in identifying what to avoid - inadvertently using disliked reinforcers may increase a student’s anxiety or trigger challenging behaviours

What does a reinforcement inventory do?

The R.I. gathers information about the students likes, dislikes and particular interests across a wide range of domains.

What are the components of a reinforcement inventory?

Reinforcement inventories vary in complexity with the age and abilities of students.  A well designed R.I. will include items a teacher or parent/carer can use to reinforce appropriate behaviour for a number of different purposes.

An important component of reinforcement inventories is to collect information about activities and items that are not only highly preferred, but also those that are tolerated and those that are disliked.

In summary, the RI:

  • is a way to gather and record information about the interests relevant to the student/child
  • assists teachers and parents to identify areas of specific interest
  • is particularly useful to support engagement motivation in learning
  • is a useful tool for facilitating collaboration between stakeholders, including the student

Download a copy of the 'Reinforcement Inventory form' and 'Likes, Tolerates and Dislikes form':