Tag Archive for 'fundamentals'

Talking about Behavior

If you haven’t done so already, take a little time to consume some of Jim Johnston’s blog. Although it’s related to his 2013 book by the same name, the blog provides bites that casual readers will find nourishing.

Token economy resource

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.
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B mod on the Today Show

US television’s the Today Show carried a segment about child management featuring Alan Kazdin’s methods. The segment, called “Meltdown! How to tame your tot’s tantrum,” has two main parts. In the first, Matt Lauer describes some basic features of the parent management procedures, described in Professor Kazdin’s book, The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child while one sees brief video clips of a child tantruming, parents interacting with the child, Professor Kazdin discussing behavior management concepts, and a therapist talking with the parents and child. In the second part, Mr. Lauer and Michelle Borba discuss the ideas parent management (getting some of it right and making a few minor misstatements).

It’s marvelous to see that research-based practices are getting mainstream attention. Thanks for people with the background of Professor Kazdin, whom one might say cut his teeth with behavior analysis, we have prominent proponents of effective methods for parents and teachers. An important task is to get those methods into practice, to get them used (with fidelity). Taking to the airwaves offers potential for doing so. Professor Kazdin’s been actively disseminating the ideas via promotion of his book, as a perusal of his Web site will reveal.

I also see this spot as a good tool for teaching about behavior management. I plan to use this snippet in my classes. Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm, so I’ll probably pair it with some criticisms of the content. I found one in which a blogger rejected the idea of ignoring misbehavior: “Parenting through a tantrum.”

For more, see the the Yale Parenting Center site.

Self-managing procrastination

Summer is a great time to do some self-management, no? If you think it is, then Dick Malott’s got some help for you. Slip on over to his place and work your way through chapter one of his Procrastination Manual. It’ll get you started on how to help yourself help yourself. (While you’re there, you might backtrack and check on some of the autism and other behavior analysis resources you can find there; note that there’s a link to Professor Malott’s site in the sidebar here, so you can always find your way to it.)

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.
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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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