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B. F. Skinner proposed behavior modification as a way to shape behavior. He proposed that proper and immediate reinforcement strengthens the likelihood that appropriate behavior will be repeated (Skinner, 1970). A theory if applied appropriately will be a key element in classroom management success. The analysis of teaching and the application methodology are illustrated by Skinner in The Technology of Teaching (1968). Operant conditioning continues to be an effective management technique despite the fact that some educators might object to using rewards and punishments to shape students' behavior. In addition, William Glasser's choice theory points to young students' ability and need to accept responsibility for managing and modifying their own behavior (Glasser, 1997, p. 597). In his turn, Bijou (1971) explained if a behavior is displayed-especially without negative consequences following it- this may indicate to other students or children that such a behavior is acceptable in a given setting. Results show that through the management of reinforcement contingencies a teacher can develop and maintain a high level of academic productivity.
Most definitions of feedback specify that it is information received by a responder regarding their performance on a task or even a set of tasks (Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991; Alvero, Bucklin, & Austin, 2001). As feedback based on numerous studies is used as a means to increase performance (Greller, 1980). Skinner defines teaching as an arrangement of contingencies of reinforcement under which students learn. He elaborates that students learn without teaching in their natural environments. Yet teachers arrange special contingencies that in its turn expedite learning and the appearance of behavior which might otherwise be acquired in a slower manner. Consequently, based on Skinner's methods of shaping behavior via operant conditioning a response cannot be reinforced until it has occurred (Skinner, 1968). Teacher's positive praise and immediate reinforcement as a form of feedback that are contingent on appropriate student behaviors in a classroom is likely to increase a variety of appropriate student behaviors and academic skills. As following directions (Hall et al., 1971), being on task and work completion ( Ferguson & Houghton, 1992; Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000), manners and peer cooperation (Sutherland & Wehby, 2001a).
Despite what we have introduced Deitz (1994) stated that there is insignificant impact applied behavior analysis has had on education. He noted that a person can go into almost any public school in this country and find little or even no evidence of behavior analysis. As very few classroom teachers will consistently and routinely use direct instruction procedures to enhance students' academic competence. Teachers frequently tend to focus on reducing disruptive behaviors some students might engage in by the usage of punishment as in yelling, send them to the office or detention- rather than increasing levels of reinforcement to the positive behaviors they desire students to engage in (Nelson & Roberts, 2000).
Moreover, none of these studies examined the effect of praise on increasing all these skills at the same time nor focused on the role of the student in monitoring their own behavior. Therefore, the purpose of this study will be to increase elementary students' positive behavior in classroom setting by using a self-monitor point-sheet system. Students will monitor their own performance as the point sheets will be placed on each student's desk. They are asked at the end of each period to add up how many "stars" they have gained. The teachers will mainly reinforce the five targeted skills the students may engage in: being on task, manners, raising their hand to answer or participate and working appropriately in a group. By reinforcing the following skills the disruptive behaviors are suppose to decrease as they will not be reinforced rather ignored. As praise combined with decreased attention to problem behavior in classroom lead to decreases in disruptive behavior (Becker, Madsen, Arnold, & Thomas, 1967).
A teacher can reward students who complete their assignments on time by giving them each a tally on their point-sheets. A student consequently will self-monitor their own behavior by keeping track of the points they are gaining upon engaging in certain behaviors. As an example, a student may find an opportunity to gain more points by raising their hands as he or she is lacking points on that part. It will also indicate to the student that he/she is behaving appropriately when working in a group as the teacher will give them points when they are on task and try to solve a problem as a group. At the same time, if a student is not engaged in any of these targeted behaviors as they are either off-task or out of seat then they are not getting access to these points, "teacher's attention" nor preferred items or privileges.
Rather than punishing or giving attention to the misbehaving students, teachers can praise students who behave properly. According to Skinner's theory (1968), the behaving students will continue to demonstrate positive behavior. The misbehaving students, desiring the positive reinforcement, will begin to behave appropriately. When a student has a set number of tallies-stars- he or she can exchange them for a preferred item or privilege at the end of the class. To be effective, reinforcement should be of appropriate strength and immediate.
This intervention will take place in an elementary school in WCSD that agree to introduce this intervention in a randomly general aid classroom. Classroom (A) and another classroom that will act as a control group classroom (B) where the students from classroom (A) will be taught by another teacher who is not familiar with this intervention.
The behavior analysis consultant (BAC) will take baseline data in both classes to measure how often students engage in these skills prior to introducing the intervention. Then the BAC will teach the desired skills to the students, teacher and aid in class (A) by defining these skills and modeling them. The BAC would act a certain skill and ask the students to identify it or define what skill it is. The students, teacher and aid will also take part in teaching and learning these skills by acting them and ask their peers to guess what skill is that. Meanwhile the BAC will tally the students' point-sheet upon demonstrating the correct skill. After reaching a mastery level of identifying these skills the BAC will conduct a preference assessment to assure that the items the students will exchange their points with are preferred items or privileges. Because if they are not preferred then the students will not demonstrate any interest in taking part in this intervention. Therefore how much desired these items are how much students will be eager to gain points to buy them.
The teacher will then teach the class and observe how the BAC will tally the students' point sheets upon engaging in one of these behaviors. The aid will also observe for the first week and learn how to mark the students' point-sheets. The BAC will verbally articulate "good job being on task" so the student and the teacher/aid and other students will acknowledge why the student gained a point. In the second week, the aid and the teacher will start tallying the students point sheets and the BAC will make sure that the tally matches with the student's behavior. Upon reaching mastery, the BAC will observe and take data on how frequent and accurate the aid and the teacher are reinforcing the students' behaviors by randomly choosing a student and marking their behavior and compare that with the point sheet the teacher or aid marked for him/her. At the end of each observation the BAC will share data with the teacher and the aid to discuss future opportunities the aid and the teacher may engage in that they have missed in this observation. If the students' point sheets marked by the teacher/aid and the BAC point sheet for the same students do not match then the aid and the teacher will observe again how the BAC tallies the students point sheets and how to exchange their points at the end of each period. At the same time the BAC will observe the students taught by teacher (B) to evaluate if these learned skills will generalize to other settings. The BAC will take data on the students behavior in class (B).
Teacher and aid in class (A) will continue to receive weekly service by the BAC supporting the point-sheet intervention to sustain maintaining and generalizing the learned skills and collect observation data on the teacher's and the aid's accuracy in identifying the desired skills and at the same time to measure the level of undesired behavior if it decreased when these skills increase. The BAC will also compare students' pre and post academic achievements to introducing this self-monitor intervention, as a dependent measure.
Sample of the self-monitor point-sheet:
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Excellent, you are
Good Job Raising YOUR HAND
Thank you for your MANNERS
Great minds WORK TOGETHER