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Old 07-22-2011, 02:56 PM
 
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Has anyone here taught in a program for middle school where there are no consequences for poor behavior, but instead there are great incentives for good behavior.

Example: no restrictions for being tardy for class, but students who have no tardies over a specific period of time are rewarded.

The thought process is that students who do not preform up to standards will want to because they want the incentives.

I would like to hear experiences good or bad. Also, parent thoughts on this method.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:21 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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I've read a few article on that. You end up with kids who think they should get rewards for doing the "normal" stuff like showing up to school on time. Can lead to an entitlement mentality if just doing what you are supposed to be doing ends up with rewards. The shocker is when they go to college and beyond because real life doesn't reward you for just showing up.

Rewards should be for over and the above IMHO.

I have seen it at schools..xBox or PS/3 lotteries for good attendance, etc.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:03 AM
 
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We should not reward people for doing things that they are expected to do. We should also not make excuses (ie: special education labels; emotionally disturbed, learning handicapped, impulse control disability, social/ emotional,...) for poor behavior. Call it what it is and stop being so clinical and politically correct. Too much legalism and psychology have been introduced in the school system by people protecting their job (ie: school psychologists, administrators, facilitators, special education consortiums, speech and language specialists, nurses,...) and making excuses for bad and failing behavior and achievement.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:10 AM
 
Location: In a chartreuse microbus
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This kind of training works well with dogs, not children.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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I'm not sure if my child's school has a literal rule such as above, but I do know that my 4th grader was displaying poor behavior in the classroom for months before it was brought to my attention by both his teacher and school psych.

I was caught off guard to say the least, but when I asked what strategies and/or consequences had been employed up to this point, the told me NONE! I was literally told the school had no consequences they could use and it was up to me to fix it.

When I pointed out that I could not fix something I was never informed about, I was told to take my child to a physician for a dx of 'something' because there was nothing the school could do.

I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I actually had to INSIST they employ some strategies and/or consequences in the classroom before I would even consider my son needing to see an outside professional. Of course, I insisted from that point forward that I be made aware immediately of behavior problems, not months later!

Low and behold, it worked! The rest of the school year went smoothly! WTH?
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:32 AM
 
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We do a combination of both. We try hard as a staff to "catch" kids doing the right thing and those kids are given rewards not only in the classroom but in school-wide mini-rewards throughout the year. Or turning in homework consistently for X number of assignments can get you excused from the following assignment, etc.

One thing you have to remember is that kids are not created equal. My brain does not necessarily tick the same way as yours. Consequences do need to be in place so that kids can make good cause/effect associations and so that the ones who don't buy into the reward system don't just go feral, but I absolutely agree that a reward system works for many kids and should be implemented whenever possible.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hey teach View Post
Has anyone here taught in a program for middle school where there are no consequences for poor behavior, but instead there are great incentives for good behavior.

Example: no restrictions for being tardy for class, but students who have no tardies over a specific period of time are rewarded.

The thought process is that students who do not preform up to standards will want to because they want the incentives.

I would like to hear experiences good or bad. Also, parent thoughts on this method.
I teach in a setting that applies to the principles of applied behavior analysis, which is more commonly used with extreme behavioral issues due to disability than it is the with the general student population. It's typically part of therapies used in working with children with autism.

ABA is totally based around reinforcing the behavior you want to increase, versus punishing the behavior you don't want to increase. You don't punish the behavior you're trying to eradicate, you simply do not attend to it, given that the reaction is very often at least in part the reason for the behavior. At the same time that you're extinguishing the unwanted behavior, you make sure the result being obtained by the wanted behavior is much more attractive. Part of the theory behind ABA is that by attending to unwanted behavior (i.e. paying it any attention whatsoever, including the reaction inherent in issuing punishment, you may be inadvertently reinforcing it, if the kid's primary motivator is attention-seeking).

Although this approach is not devoid of consequences, it doesn't use punishment, per se (really, there are inherent consequences to everything...in your example, the students who are tardy DO face a consequence...that being that they don't get the reinforcement that the students who are always on time get, even if they don't receive a specific punishment).

The thing with straight-up ABA is that it's exhaustive, very intensive, and to be applied consistently, almost has to be done in a one-on-one basis, or with a team of people who are able to very consistently apply the principles. You can't do it just sometimes.

That said, there is quite a bit of truth in the theory that the most successful and lasting attempts at changing behavior are accomplished through reinforcing the preferred behavior, versus punishing the non-preferred. It's not always an option available, but it's very effective IF (and this IF is huge) the reinforcement is something that is meaningful specifically to the person receiving it, of large enough size to be valuable to the person receiving it, delivered with enough immediacy that the person makes the connection as to what behavior is being reinforced, and (another biggie) it's contingent upon them demonstrating the preferred behavior and CANNOT be accessed any other way. A kid (or anybody, really) is not going to go out of his or her way to work for something he or she can get easily some other way. You also have to vary the reinforcement, or it can lose its teeth...I may love movie theatre popcorn with butter, but if I get it every night for two weeks, I'm going to OD on it. The same is true of reinforcement...you can wear it out if you don't keep it varied. There are also different schedules of delivery that can be played with.

To the person who said that this type of behavioral approach works for dogs, not children, I couldn't disagree more. Kids and dogs (and adults, for that matter), typically will repeat behavior that pays off for them. The trick lies in paying off the positive behavior, and not the negative, which also requires doing some examining of what the possible motivation behind the behavior is. Not doing so is a mistake that people frequently make, with both dogs and people. If the dog or kid's behavior is attention-seeking, and they get your attention (even if it's by you yelling at them), they've succeeded. You need to be very careful of the behavior you're paying off, even inadvertently. Whatever behavior (wanted or unwanted) that's getting paid off is the one that's going to increase. That's behavioral psych 101.

To those who say that you shouldn't need to reward/reinforce behavior that is generally considered to be a given in society, that's true...depending on your learner. Positive reinforcement only works on a contingency basis...it has to be earned, not given away as a freebie. When people start getting stuff for free, they cease to want to earn it.

In my case, as a special education teacher who works exclusively with children with severe cognitive, emotional, and behavioral deficits, you have to consider where the student is at. These are kids who you WILL want to positively reinforce for seemingly small things, because, for example, to a kid with autism and major sensory integration problems, getting through a lunch period in a cafeteria without having a sensory overload meltdown complete with aggression or self-injurious behavior, and using other, learned coping mechanisms instead with success can be a HUGE milestone. So you may heap on the positive reinforcement for this major hurdle in a way you wouldn't with, say a neurotypical 16-year old for whom it is totally developmentally appropriate to be able to manage his or her emotions well in a crowded, loud lunchroom. You have to individualize your approach to the learner, and carefully plan what the target behavior to be reinforced is. You definitely don't want to be overly reinforcing of things that the learner is fully capable of doing with ease, or your reinforcement will lose all meaning. You typically scale back the reinforcement and/or its delivery once the positive behavioral pattern is learned and becomes set. Fading it out is part of the process.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:53 AM
 
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Neither rewards nor punishments are likely to increase intrinsic motivation toward learning.

http://home.ubalt.edu/tmitch/642/Art...0bull%2099.pdf

Quote:
Careful consideration of reward effects reported in 128 experiments leads to the conclusion that tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation, with the limiting conditions we have specified. Even when tangible rewards are offered as indicators of good performance, they typically decrease intrinsic motivation for interesting activities.

Although rewards can control people's behavior—indeed, that is presumably why they are so widely advocated—the primary negative effect of rewards is that they tend to forestall self-regulation.
In other words, reward contingencies undermine people's taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves. When institutions—families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for
example—focus on the short term and opt for controlling people's behavior, they may be having a substantially negative long-term effect. Furthermore, as noted by Kohn (1993), when organizations
opt for the use of rewards to control behavior, the rewards are likely to be accompanied by greater surveillance, evaluation, and competition, all of which have also been found to undermine
intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

Research has shown the value of being intrinsically motivated in many applied settings such as education, sports, and work environments. In addition, research on intrinsic motivation has focused
attention on the more general benefits of supports for autonomy and competence for motivated persistence, performance, and well being. Many social institutions face problems including alienation,
detachment, and disengagement that could be at least partially ameliorated by promoting higher levels of intrinsic motivation and self-determination. Strategies focused on optimizing the psychological
need satisfactions associated with active engagement of various tasks within specific performance settings thus offer important alternatives to the use of rewards and other social controls to motivate behavior. As research has shown, there are conditions under which tangible rewards do not necessarily undermine intrinsic motivation, but the evidence indicates clearly that strategies that focus primarily on the use of extrinsic rewards do, indeed, run a serious risk of diminishing rather than promoting intrinsic
motivation.
So, what do we need to do. We must focus on the long term rather than the short term. Obedience does not promote learning. This has to begin in elementary school. It should be school wide, not just a single classroom. It should also be district wide in that it should continue from year to year in the same district. Individual teachers and classrooms *can* do some of this, but it would be really helpful to have a strategy for entire schools.

1. Discuss motivation with your students. Acknowledge the importance of grades, but discuss why learning in and of itself is important. Use of non-graded pre- and post- tests to be a useful strategy for obtaining such information. In addition, giving a post-test and showing students how much they have learned (the difference in their pre- and post-test scores) is, even without a grade, rewarding to many students.
2. Set kids up for success. It is important to give specific and detailed feedback on assignments rather than just a grade. Show both what they did wrong and what they did right, but with emphasis on the things they did correctly.
3. Offer opportunities for the students to reflect on their best method of learning as well as on the actual learning that takes place.
4. Teachers must develop relationships with their students *and* develop a classroom community that is conducive to learning. Teach by example. Use local examples. Use what interests your students.
5. Give students some control and choice. Incorporate different assignments they can choose from that meet the same learning objectives whenever possible. Give them your grading rubric so they can be informed about how you will grade their assignments.
6. Don't assign grades to everything you do. This can be encouraged using computer technology. Ask the students to find out something just for the discovery.
7. Talk about how you learn and how much value learning things has to you.

In my math classroom, I used various parts of Sheila Tobias' book Overcoming Math Anxiety. The time spent on these short excerpts made a big difference to the students figuring out what they needed to do to actually learn the math.

Amazon.com: Overcoming Math Anxiety (9780393313079): Sheila Tobias: Books
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nana053 View Post
Neither rewards nor punishments are likely to increase intrinsic motivation toward learning.
True, but the OP was asking about behavior, not learning...and positive reinforcement absolutely is useful for shaping behavior that will be conducive to setting up an environment where learning can more effectively occur. It's all a piece of the pie, as effective learning cannot occur when behavioral issues stand in the way.

Your listed strategies ARE great for academic motivation, though, no arguing there. Because if your instruction is ineffective, you're more likely to wind up with behavioral issues that hinder the learning process. All tied together.
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
True, but the OP was asking about behavior, not learning...and positive reinforcement absolutely is useful for shaping behavior that will be conducive to setting up an environment where learning can more effectively occur. It's all a piece of the pie, as effective learning cannot occur when behavioral issues stand in the way.

Your listed strategies ARE great for academic motivation, though, no arguing there. Because if your instruction is ineffective, you're more likely to wind up with behavioral issues that hinder the learning process. All tied together.
You need to increase motivation toward good behavior not just academics. I believe that students certainly *want* to behave well, but get bogged down in other behavior.

That's why I also suggest Harry Wong's The First Days of School.

If you teach procedures, practice them and the students understand the need for them, the behavioral issues *mostly* go away.
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