University of California, Riverside


Austin Johnson Assistant Professor of Education

Topics: School Discipline
Students With Behavior Problems

Preferred Media: Print, Radio, Video

Languages Spoken: English, Spanish

Contact Card

Tel: (951) 827-5958

Media Contact: Tess Eyrich
Tel: (951) 827-1287


Dr. Austin Johnson is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education. He received his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2014. His research interests focus on the identification of evidence-based behavior support practices and the evaluation of observation-based behavior assessment methodologies. Dr. Johnson is both a licensed psychologist with the California Board of Psychology and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

On School Discipline

Most of us grew up with school discipline practices focused on punishment: referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. As an alternative, schools can consider reframing discipline to focus on teaching positive behavior and recognizing student success. These strategies have a lot of names, including positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) and behavioral multitiered systems of supports (MTSS), but they all generally focus on using data to identify where problems are and how to address them using reinforcement rather than punishment.

On Students With Behavior Problems

Research has identified numerous practices effective in helping support students with behavior problems; these may be students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), emotional disturbance (ED), or emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Many effective interventions are based in the principles of applied behavior analysis, which focuses on changing the environment in order to help increase positive behaviors and reduce negative behaviors. Schools face significant challenges in implementing supportive practices for students with behavior problems. When interventions are put in place, we should consider barriers to their effectiveness and how to use both easily collectible and meaningful data to evaluate their success.