Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills 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

Using games for good behaviour

Ever since I first said I wanted to be a teacher, people would always ask me how would you cope with difficult classes? In the past disruptive children would sadly be punished via caning. This is thankfully illegal today, and thus newer, more ethical methods of seeking obedience within a classroom are adopted. With classroom management being one of the hardest parts of teaching, much research has looked at how to reduce undesirable classroom behaviour whilst increasing desirable behaviour.

So how, as an aspiring teacher would I go about ensuring that my class behave, and are paying attention to what I say? Well, perhaps the best method would be to use some of the principles from Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA looks to solve behaviour problems by using consequences to influence behaviours, either by rewards for good behaviour or by giving negative consequences for undesirable behaviours.

One way as a teacher I could reduce these undesirable behaviours is through the use of the Good behaviour game. The good behaviour game was created by Muriel, Barrish and Wolfe (1967) in an attempt to use behaviour analysis to increase desirable behaviour whilst reducing disruptive ones. The method involved a game, in which the students would be divided into teams and compete for prizes.
This led to positive peer pressure, with teams of students having to work together to earn rewards. However, if one student acts disruptively by shouting out, or getting up and walking around then the whole team has a possibility of losing privileges. By having the disruptive behaviour of one child causing negative repercussion for the whole team, the amount of disruptive behaviour decreased. Within their study they found a drastic reduction of unwanted behaviour through the use of this method.

These results have been replicated today (Lannie & McCurdy, 2007) showing just how effective this method is. They looked specifically at a class that had high levels of disruptive behaviour. After applying the good behaviour game, they found notable positive changes; they found on-task behaviour increased, whilst disruptive behaviour decreased.

So, ABA would help my future career as a teacher, as the possibility of rewards given to students for behaving well has been shown to increase student on-task behaviour, and the threat of negative consequences for a disruptive behaviour not just for the student, but for their peers as well, has been shown to reduce disruptive behaviour, thus making teaching hopefully easier.

Aaron Chaloner

Barrish, H. H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. M. (1969). "Good behavior game: Effects of individual contingencies for group consequences on disruptive behavior in a classroom". Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 119–24.

Lannie, A. L. & McCurdy, B. L. (2007). "Preventing Disruptive Behavior in the Urban Classroom: Effects of the Good Behavior Game on Student and Teacher Behavior". Education and Treatment of Children, 30, 85–98

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