Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Good Behavior Game

With the knowledge that in September I will be put in front of a class in a Teach First school, which are by definition difficult, and be expected to be calm, in control and able to impart knowledge, behaviour issues fill my nightmares.

So what can Applied Behaviour Analysis propose that may lessen my worry? The method I’ve found includes the word ‘game’ in the title and I feel you can’t go far wrong with that: The Good Behavior Game. (Tingstrom, Sterling-Turner, & Wilczynski, 2006).

Let’s see what this looks like in my future classroom:

“Hello class, today you are going to be split into two teams and the rules are that you must not leave your seat, talk without permission or engage in disruptive behaviour.

According to your responses on the questionnaire you filled in earlier this week to choose your reward today’s prize is a 5 minute break at the end of the lesson if you win.

If anyone breaks a rule, their team will receive a mark on the board. If you do not get 4 or more marks on the board in this lesson your team will win. Yes, both teams can win today.

Don’t forget that if you win today it will be added to the weekly running total and the prize for the best team of the week that you chose is a cake for that team.”

(Based on the procedure in Kleinman & Saigh, 2011).

Making the reinforcement contingent on the whole team’s behaviour appeals to me as it is likely that there will be multiple pupils with behavioural issues in my classroom and it also encourages teamwork. The Good Behavior Game is more likely to be able to address multiple pupil’s behavioural issues simultaneously whilst ensuring time to teach the class as a whole which is the overarching goal.

What I didn’t tell you is that I will be teaching secondary school English…you may be thinking, “isn’t this game a bit childish?” Well I guess I’ll find out. To help you decide whether it is too childish I’ll leave you with this question: do you still like being rewarded for good behaviour?


Lydia Dyckhoff


Kleinman, K. E., & Saigh, P. A. (2011). The effects of the good behavior game on the conduct of regular education New York City high school students. Behavior modification, 35(1), 95-105.

Tingstrom, D. H., Sterling-Turner, H. E., & Wilczynski, S. M. (2006). The good behavior game: 1969-2002. Behavior modification, 30(2), 225-253.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Lydia, we have much experience with GBG with colleagues at Hopkins and several other universities where we are following the impact longitudinally. We've used the procedures from pre-k through grade/violent felony offender juveniles, and in after-school settings. You can learn more at www.GoodBehaviorGame.org. PAX GBG is the largest iteration of the science of this for the real world. You can read some of my paper on this at www.pubmed.gov. Our whole province study in Manitoba for virtually all grade one children is now releasing data on the early outcomes. Good luck to you.

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