Monthly Archive for February, 2011

Not my GBG

Over on eHow, contributor Greg Stone noted that B. F. Skinner’s studies in the 1950s helped educators develop ways to use positive reinforcement in classrooms. Apart from the mysterious date reference, so far, so good. Mr. Stone continued, “Positive reinforcement helps reinforce and shape behavior in the classroom. Games teach children proper behavior in a fun and memorable way.”

Mr. Stone’s first example is “The Good Behavior Game.” Yea! But, that’s where it goes a bit awry.

This game can be played both in the classroom and at home. For school, make a chart with all the behaviors you expect from your students. The list can include working quietly, helping other students and finishing homework. Each day, let the students put stickers on the chart for activities they’ve completed. Set up a reward plan based on the number of stickers received for each week.

Now, mayhaps this really would be an effective game. Maybe it would promote appropriate behavior. I’ve not seen studies of the procedure he described. If any readers have, please drop the references in the comments. If not, perhaps some enterprising teacher could run a quick AB comparison or a couple of grad students could collaborate with some teachers and run a tidy multiple baseline test. Y’all could get the ball rolling….

But what Mr. Stone describes surely isn’t the Good Behavior Game that many of us know and admire. I wonder whether he has read about it. I shall write to him and ask. It’s obvious he’s talking about something different than the Good Behavior Game developed by Barrish, Saunders, and Wolf (1969) and then tested by many others.

Here’s the link for Mr. Stone’s “Behavior Modification Games.”
Given my string of recent posts about mistaken uses of behavioral terminology, one might just as well sign my posts with “Grumpy.”

Mayhaps I shouldn’t reward it with a reference? As folks alert to the trends in the techie world know, eHow is among the Internet resources that is dogged by accusations of generating headlines and creating content to suit visitors and boost positions in search rankings (see Claire Miller’s report, “Seeking to Weed Out Drivel, Google Adjusts Search Engine,” in the NY Times).

Barrish, H. H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. M. (1969). Good behavior game: Effects of individual contingencies for group consequences on disruptive behavior in a classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 119-124. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1969.2-119

Another mistake on NR

Here’s another oopsie on “negative reinforcement.” This one is from a site that’s discussing the application of behavioral principles for the business environment, so it’s a little afield for us, but I’m throwing it into the pot anyway. At least it shows that it is not only we educators who make this mistake. In the article, the author N. Nayab (edited J. Scheid) gets several things right, but makes the usual confusion between negative reinforcement and punishment:

Skinner’s behavior modification theory holds that reinforcement, either positive, or negative shapes behavior. Providing positive reinforcement for changing behavior to desired levels through appropriate and effective rewards, and or providing negative reinforcement such as punishments or discouraging signals for undesired changes in behavior, or sticking to status quo helps employees make the appropriate behavior modifications.
Continue reading ‘Another mistake on NR’




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