Archive for the 'Press' Category

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Wrong about negative reinforcement

I was happy to note that several students in the first meeting of my introductory class this term knew that negative reinforcement does not mean punishment. Sadly, I happened to come across another example of folks perpetuating that very misinformation.

Over on wiseGEEK, a relatively long-standing Internet source that provides answers to questions, there is an article that addresses the question, “What is behavior management?” Hey, it caught my eye!

Behavior management is a type of behavior therapy that aims to control negative actions by preserving a level of order and direction. This approach to dealing with behavior change is largely practiced by those working in the field of education, specifically those who work with special needs children. Behavior management is employed to better help individuals or groups make positive, healthy behavioral choices.

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Mandeville High teaches good behavior

According to Kenneth Mathews of nola.com, Mandeville High School and other schools in the St. Tammany Parish local education agency in Louisiana (US) are using positive behavior intervention and support (PBIS) procedures to teach students appropriate school behaviors. In an article under the headline “Positive Behavior takes hold at Mandeville, other schools,” that appeard 19 November 2010, Mr. Mathews described multiple situations that might seem out of the ordinary but that were actually examples of students benefitting from their own successes as a part of the PBIS programs employed in their schools.

On any given day at Mandeville High School, a ninth-grader might be seen walking confidently to the front of the senior lunch line, cutting in front of the upperclassmen and receiving his lunch first without the slightest complaint from the seniors. The next day, that same ninth-grader might be given a free lunch and the grace to make up a missed homework assignment.

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Precision Teaching conference pending

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!

Fryer’s incentives study

Under the title “Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?” Amanda Ripley of Time Magazine reported about the outcomes of the large-scale study led by Roland Fryer Jr. that tested whether incentive systems affected students’ achievement. Professor Fryer, who collaborated with many others on this ambitious project (> 270 schools), found that rewards for outcomes (e.g., grades and test scores) were less effective than rewards for what he calls “educational production functions” (activities, such as reading and participating, that led to better learning).

Here is how Ms. Ripley characterizes the outcomes:
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Why animal research matters

In “Like a Rat: Animal research and your child’s behavior” that they penned for Slate, Alan Kazdin and Carlo Rotella explain why it is sensible to infer methods for modifying human behavior from research on rats, pigeons, and monkeys. They quite clearly show how what we know from systematic research on infra-human organisms applies to us, the magnificently complicated, subtle, and rational organisms—at least as we seem to see ourselves.

Psychologists who work with children and families tend to avoid mentioning to parents that the treatments they use are often based on research done on animals. It’s no secret that the widely used technique of the timeout was developed in studies on rats or that important early research leading to treatments for anxiety in humans was done on dogs, cats, and other species—but the subject doesn’t come up a lot in conversation. We will confess to doing our bit to perpetuate this professional shyness about animal research by tiptoeing around it….

If you, dear reader, have ever wondered why research about pressing levers or pecking disks matters for changing human behavior or have had someone ask you a question about the connection between research conducted in a laboratory with animals and learner performance, you should read Professors Kazdin’s and Rotella’s “Like a Rat: Animal research and your child’s behavior.”

By the by, it’s just one of many excellent pieces that they’ve published on Slate.

News account about classroom management

In “Controlling a classroom isn’t as easy as ABC” Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles (CA, US) Times describes teachers’ struggles and successes with classroom management. She also reports what teachers say are important and unimportant components of management.

Not only does she describe conflicts in the classrooms, but the recommendations she received about management show conflicts, too. She captures this disagreement concisely with this example: “Some teachers, for example, offer rewards for good behavior; others believe that creates a false motivation.”

Here are recommendations I gleened from the teachers in Mr. Mehta’s article:

  • Consistency
  • Follow through
  • Caring
  • Clear behavioral expectations
  • Automatic consequences
  • Address misbehavior quickly and dispassionately
  • Ignore what you learn in teacher education

For the most part, these seem sensible and appropriate. But, they also seem platitudinous and generic. If teachers are served this sort of stuff in teacher education, then I can even agree with the last one.

Instead, we need to teach more operational and evidence-based practices. I hope that’s what I accomplish in my classes. Mayhaps I don’t. Sigh.

Link to “Controlling a classroom isn’t as easy as ABC.”




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