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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Cover, Copy, and Compare (CCC) - Topic 38

What is it?

First described as a means of increasing spelling accuracy (McGuigan, 1975; Hansen, 1978), cover, copy, and compare (CCC) represents a simple, evidence-based approach to the acquisition of information. CCC consists of four self-managed steps: a) the learner studies an academic task (e.g., a math fact) and its answer, b) the learner covers the task and provides an academic response, c) the learner compares the attempt to the correct problem, and d) the learner repeats the CCC process for any of the problems answered incorrectly (Skinner McLaughlin, & Logan, 1997). The final step in the process relies on positive practice overcorrection, whereby the instructor compels the learner to provide correct forms of an incorrect response (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007).


Research provides extensive support for the use of CCC. Although the acquisition of math facts (e.g., Skinner, Shapiro, Turco, Cole, & Brown, 1992) and spelling words (e.g., McAuley & McLaughlin, 1992) represents the primary focus of the CCC literature, researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of CCC across a variety of academic tasks. For example, Skinner & Belfiore (1992) observed an immediate increase in ability of seven students with ED to fill in a blank map of the United States after using a modified CCC procedure. In addition, research supports the use of CCC as a tool in the remediation of a wide range of students, including those with LD (e.g., Murphy, Hern, Williams, & McLaughlin, 1990), ID (e.g., McLaughlin, Reiter, Mabee, & Byram, 1991), and ED (e.g., Skinner, Bamberg, Smith, & Powell, 1993).

Why is it important?

The recent reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 2004) emphasized the use evidence-based practices for students with disabilities. A rich and extensive body or research literature supports CCC and similar explicit instructional practices derived from behavioral theories of learning. Furthermore, the simple, self-directed nature of CCC makes it an ideal tool for providing empirically validated instruction to students with disabilities in inclusive settings.


Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Hansen, C. L. (1978). Writing skills. In N. G. Haring, T. C. Lovitt, M. D. Eaton, & C. L. Hansen (Eds.),

The fourth R: Research in the classroom (pp.23-40). Columbus, OH: Merrill.

McAuley, S. M., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1992). Comparison of Add-A-Word and Compu Spell programs

with low-achieving students. The Journal of Educational Research, 85(6), 362-369.

McGuigan, C. A. (1975). The add-a-word spelling program (Working Paper No. 53). Experimental

Education Unit, Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

McLaughlin, T. F., Reiter, S. M., Mabee, W. S., & Byram, B. J. (1991). An analysis and replication of

the Add-A-Word spelling program with mildly handicapped middle school students. Journal of

Behavioral Education, 1(4), 413-426.

Murphy, J. F., Hern, C. L., Williams, R. L., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1990). The effects of the copy,

cover, and compare approach in increasing spelling accuracy with learning disabled students.

Contemporary Educational Psychology, 15(4), 378-386.

Skinner, C. H., Bamberg, H. W., Smith, E. S., & Powell, S. S. (1993). Cognitive cover, copy, and

compare: Subvocal responding to increase rates of accurate division responding. Remedial

and Special Education, 14(49), 49-56.

Skinner, C. H., & Belfiore, P. J. (1992). Cover, copy, and compare: Increasing geography accuracy

in students with behavior disorders. School Psychology Review, 21(1), 73-81.

Skinner, C. H., McLaughlin, T. F., & Logan, P. (1997). Cover, copy, and compare: A self-managed

academic intervention effective across skills, students, and settings. Journal of Behavioral

Education, 7(3), 295-306.

Skinner, C. H., Shapiro, E. S., Turco, T. L., Cole, C. L., & Brown, D. K. (1992). A comparison of self

and peer-delivered feedback on multiplication performance. Journal of School Psychology,

30(2), 101-116.

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