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’
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.
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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:
Continue reading ‘Fryer’s incentives study’
Watch this video and then get ready to answer some questions.
- How did the chimps learn to touch the numerals in sequence?
- What could one do to increase human’s performance on the task?