Vanguard, the investment company, provides a free product called “My Classroom Economy” that it touts as a way to promote financial literacy. It is something like an extended token economy. Vanguard associates My Classroom Economy with the practices of Raef Esquith, the author of popular education books such as Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire.
The directions vary in specificity. At the primary grades, students are to earn a lump sum of $2 each week, provided they did not break one or two rules (each infraction costs $1). As is obvious, the system was not created to permit particularly fine-grained reinforcement. At the middle grades, students pay “fines” but they are levied at a later time than when the misbehavior occurred, that is, the consequences are not necessarily immediate. So, following the recommendations of Mr Classroom Economy probably would not provide a sound basis for a behavior management system.
Continue reading ‘Token economy resource’
Artie Tyler drives a bus in the Frederick (MD, US) area, just a bit northwest of Washington, DC. According to a feature story by Marge Neal of the Frederick News-Post, Mr. Tyler made a difference in the behavior of the students on his buses, taking over challenging routes and turning them into successful rides for the students.
Eight minutes isn’t a lot of time.
But in eight-minute blocks of time, school bus driver Artie Tyler completes his rounds for more than 50 Monocacy Elementary School students each morning and afternoon. He does more than drive — he goes the distance.
“Artie is part of our staff here at Monocacy,” said school Principal Jason Anderson. “He’s concerned not only about their safety to and from school but their academic well-being as well.”
When he took over the routes, he reported that there were fights and other problems. To solve them, it seems that Mr. Tyler hit upon one of the basic tenets of behavior management. He started catching the kids being good. In Ms. Neal’s report Mr. Tyler said, “I worked closely with the school—these people are awesome. We came up with an incentive program that seems to be working.” He provided rewards and gradually stretched the required time for earning them.
Here’s a “Way to go!” Mr. Tyler and the local schools there approached this matter the right way. I am so glad they didn’t adopt the more common approach of passing out office discipline referrals for misbehavior on the bus. Stamp this one with a great big “W” for “winner!”
Read Ms. Neal’s story, “Monocacy school bus driver turns students’ behavior around” from 11 March 2011.
The 2010 International Precision Teaching Conference will be held in Seattle (WA, US) 4-6 November 2010. Sponsored by the Standard Celeration Society, a group that promotes the use of systematic data collection procedures and objective analysis of instructional practices, the conference promises to have lots of reports that will appeal to readers of Behavior Mod. There will be special rates for students, excellent presentations, lots of chances for interaction with knowledgable folks. Check it out!
Where: Holiday Inn, 211 Dexter Ave. North, Seattle, WA 98109—Hotel Front Desk: 1-206-728-8123 | Hotel Fax: 1-206-728-2779 (Group Reservation Code: Morningside
When: 4-6 November 2010
Registration: See the Celeration.org page pointing to the Paypal form for the registration link!
Teacher A: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to use any aversive procedures. Punishment is such a drag.
Teacher B: Yes! I agree. Positive reinforcement is sooo powerful—shaping, schedules, maintenance, and all that. You can do just about everything with it.
Teacher A: Really. I mean, we should make our classes totally positive this year. No negatives. None!
As strongly as I advocate the use of positive strategies in classroom management (“Catch ’em being good!”), I have to acknowlege that there are at least three reasons it is impossible to create behavior management systems that exclusively employ positive reinforcement. Here’s why reasonable folks should resist the superficial appeal of the all-positive or positives-only Chimera.
Continue reading ‘Why not only positives?’
Professor Brian Iwata, who has extensively studied functional behavior analysis, will conduct a two-day workshop entitled “Functional Analysis & Treatment of Severe Behavior Disorders” in Philadelphia (PA, US) on 28 – 29 September 2009. Psychologists may earn 11 CE credits, BCBAs & BCABAs 12 Type 2 CE credits. Walt Antonow, who manages these workshops, advised me that as of 2 Sep there were only 15 seats available, He has a brochure available.
If it isn’t the most misunderstood concept in the analysis of behavior, “negative reinforcement” has got to be among the top two or three. (Suggest competitors in the comments!) People often misuse this term, employing it as a synonym for “punishment.”
For grins, I located a couple of examples illustrating this problem. They follow:
- In an article for the Daily Pennsylvania under the headline “Negative reinforcement aggravates excessive behavior in dogs, studies find,” Greg Rollman published these paragraphs:
An owner’s instinctual response to a dog’s aggressive behavior might be to act aggressively toward the dog, but a new study shows that this could actually exacerbate that behavior.
Meghan Herron, lead author and resident at the behavior clinic at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, surveyed 140 dog owners who sought treatment for their dogs at the clinic. She analyzed the owners’ disciplinary methods using different types of reinforcement – the owner’s positive, negative or neutral reaction to a dog’s behavior.
Negative reinforcement, such as growling, yelling or hitting, tended to cause aggression in a high percentage of dogs. Positive reinforcement or neutral techniques, on the other hand, caused a negligible increase in dogs’ aggressive behavior.
Mr. Rollman’s treatment is available here.
- In Men’s Fitness under the headline “Could you be insulted and belittled into getting fit? One outrageous Denver gym owner has built a thriving enterprise saying, ‘Yes, you can, chubby,'” Megan Michelson reported about the techniques employed by a fitness trainer:
“It’s not my job to kiss your [hindquarters],” says Anti-Gym owner Michael Karolchyk. “If you want positive reinforcement, go to Richard Simmons or Oprah. Both of them are fat and make millions of dollars by making fat people feel good about themselves.”
Karolchyk’s style of extreme negative reinforcement–complete with degrading insults, embarrassing nicknames and throwing toy fish at clients–has garnered both praise and criticism.
Ms. Michelson’s report is available here. Be sure to read what the “experts say.”
For the record: Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior results in the removal of a feature of the environment and that behavior increases (usually in frequency). There are lots of sources on the Internet that present it correctly.