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Reinforcement Systems


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Title: Reinforcement Systems

Reinforcement Systems
  • Becky Turner
  • 1/25/2001

Why are reinforcement systems important to have
in your repertoire of behavioral interventions?
  • Disruptive behavior within the classroom setting
    is predictive of less academic
  • engagement time, lower grades, and a poorer
    performance on standardized tests.
  • Students with behavior disorders have a high rate
    for school dropout, 65!
  • Many teachers report a lack of training in
    techniques to manage disruptive behavior (parents
    have the same difficulties).

Types of problems addressed (What a Tough Kid
looks like)?
  • Behavioral excesses Too much of a behavior
  • Noncompliance
  • Does not do what is requested
  • Breaks rules
  • Argues
  • Makes excuses
  • Delays
  • Does opposite of what is asked
  • Aggression
  • -Tantrums
  • -Fights
  • -Destroys property
  • -Vandalizes
  • -Sets fires
  • -Teases
  • -Verbally abuses
  • -Is revengeful
  • -Is cruel to others

Behavioral Deficits Inability to adequately
perform a behavior
  • Self-Management Skills
  • -Cannot delay rewards
  • -Acts before thinking-impulsive
  • -Shows little remorse or guilt
  • -Will not follow rules
  • -Cannot foresee consequences
  • Social Skills
  • -Has few friends
  • -Goes through friends fast
  • -Noncooperative-bossy
  • -Does not know how to reward others
  • -Lacks affection
  • -Has few problem-solving skills
  • -Constantly seeks attention

Behavioral Deficits
  • Academic Skills
  • -Generally behind in academics (particularly
  • -Off-task
  • -Fails to finish work
  • -Truant or frequently tardy
  • -Forgets acquired information easily

Positive Strategies
  • The Basics
  • Positive reinforcement
  • -The most powerful and effective method for
    increasing or maintaining appropriate behavior.
  • -Positive reinforcement always works. If a
    behavior does not increase when it is followed by
    a stimulus then by definition, that stimulus is
    not a positive reinforcer.
  • -A CQ follows every behavior in which we engage
    in. Those CQs can either serve to maintain,
    increase, or decrease the future probability of a
    behavior being performed (If it increases then
    the CQ is known as a positive reinforcer).

Common Complaints
  • Teacher Ive tried that positive reinforcement
    and it doesnt work
  • Reality oxymoron, if the CQ did not have an
    effect of increasing the behavior it was not a
    positive reinforcer (particularly for this
    student). There was no positive reinforcement!
  • Teacher Its bribery
  • Reality Bribery is giving a reward to a student
    to stop an inappropriate behavior or misbehavior.
    Positive reinforcement is given only after an
    appropriate behavior to increase or maintain it.

Common Complaints
  • Teacher Nothing reinforces my student!
  • There is always something that will reinforce a
    student (unless they are dead). The trick is to
    find the effective reinforcers.

Positive Reinforcers
  • -Reinforcement is individual!
  • -Must be something the student values or wants
    (not what we think they should value or want).
  • -Five ways of identifying reinforcers
  • preference scales
  • preference lists (e.g., reinforcer checklist,
    reinforcer menu)
  • interview with the child
  • interview with the parent or teacher
  • direct observation
  • Reinforcement system for program must have
    reinforcers that are desired by the student.
  • What do they want? What will they work for?

Types of Reinforcers
  • 1. Natural positive reinforcers
    (e.g., be team
    captain, help custodian, free time to use
    specific equipment/ supplies, sit next to a
  • 2. Edible Reinforcement
    (candy, ice
    cream, pop, pizza, Baha Chips) MMMMthese are
    so good!
  • Material reinforcement
    crayons, key chains, stuffed animals, wax lips
    teeth, yo-yos)
  • Social Reinforcement
    (e.g., smile, a
    comment on a job well done, ATTENTION!)
  • Good job Becky you are talking SLOW!!

Golden Rules for selecting reinforcers
  • -Inexpensive
  • -Do not take a lot of staff time
  • -Should be natural whenever possible

Why should the reinforcers be natural whenever
How to make reinforcers more effective
  • Deprivation
  • Magnitude
  • Immediate (RF student immediately)
  • Frequently (Frequently RF a student, the living
  • Enthusiasm (Enthusiasm in delivery of the
  • Eye Contact (eye contact suggests that the
    student is special and has the teachers
    undivided attention)
  • Describe the Behavior (the student may not know
    why reinforcement is being delivered or think it
    is for some other behavior)
  • Anticipation (building excitement and
    anticipation for the earning of the reinforcer
    can motivate student to try their very best)
  • Variety (avoid satiation of a reinforcer)

Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Continuous RF
  • Intermittent RF
    Fixed schedule of RF
    2. Variable
    schedule of RF
  • Why are the schedules of RF important in
    reinforcement systems?

Delivery Systems for Positive Reinforcement
  • Name some ways to deliver positive reinforcement
    (reinforcement systems). Which are your personal
    favorites and why?

Delivery Systems for Positive Reinforcement
  • Wandering Reinforcers
  • Mystery Motivators
  • Chart moves
  • Magic Pens
  • Spinners
  • Grab-bags
  • Lottery/raffle tickets
  • These can also be combined together to create a
    variety of different reinforcement systems!

Wandering Reinforcers
  • Wandering reinforcers.what could teachers learn
    from waitstaff? Why does this work?

Wandering Reinforcers
  • The Wandering Teacher
  • -One of the most effective, but underused
    delivery systems for RF
  • -Wandering randomly while students are working
    the teachers proximity serves to help prevent
    problems from occurring in the first place.
  • -Teachers can provide Social RF!!! (e.g., a
    smile, nod, wink, pat on the back, etc.)
    Especially for on-task behavior
  • -Allows quick checks of academic work

Mystery Motivators
  • The name of a reinforcer is written on a slip of
    paper, sealed inside an envelope, and displayed
    in a prominent position somewhere in the
    classroom (e.g., middle of the chalkboard,
    clothespinned on a wire running across the
    ceiling of the room).
  • .Monthly calendar in which the teacher has
    randomly marked reinforcement days with a small
    colored X. Each day on the calendar is covered
    with a self-sticking dot or masking tape
    (including days designated with an X). For each
    day the student earns the RF, they are allowed to
    peel off one dot. If there is and X under the
    dot the student is given an envelope with a
    mystery motivator. If there is no X the student
    must wait till the next day to peel off the next
  • -Can use magic invisible pens to make
    marks on the chart and the student earns the
    right to color the box on the chart for that day
    (surprise!its the hidden X).
  • Hype is critical to making Mystery Motivators
  • -Teachers must be tough marketers!!!!!

Chart Moves
  • (Examples)
  • -utilizes a teacher-constructed dot-to-dot
    picture which is posted so that the student can
    track his/her own progress.
  • -Each time reinforcement is earned, the student
    is allowed to connect another dot on the chart.
  • -The student earns the prespecified reward each
    time the special reward dot is reached.
  • -The reward dots are colored or circled to
    indicate that the student will receive the RF
    when they have earned enough chart moves to reach
    the special dot.
  • The 1st or last chart moves may be dated each
    day , so that the students daily progress is
    automatically recorded as the chart is used.
  • -The distance between the reward dots will vary
    according to the frequency the teacher believes
    the students behavior needs to be reinforced
    (e.g., new behaviors closer spacing of reward
    dots, as student s behavior improves further
    spacing of reward dots.Fading).

Variations of Chart Moves
  • Dot-to-dot chart is an actual picture of what the
    student wishes to earn (e.g., ice cream cone)
  • Tower/Thermometer (e.g., student earns the
    privilege of coloring in blocks on the graphed
  • Puzzles student may earn a puzzle piece each
    time they land on a reward dot. When completed
    the puzzle forms a picture of the earned item
    itself, which the student receives when the
    puzzle is complete.
  • Great for a variety of behaviors such as
    tantrums, talk-outs, and peer interactions

Magic Pens
  • Can combine the Chart Moves System with the use
    of a magic marker decoding pens.
  • -The reward dots are not circled or colored, but
    rather are marked with an invisible ink magic
  • -This unpredictable reinforcement usually result
    in high performance rates

  • Divided into 5 or more sections with each section
    representing a different positive reinforcer.
  • Bigger reinforcers are given the smallest slice
    on the spinner
  • Can be used in combination with chart moves,
    whereby the student earns a spin on the spinner
    when they reach one of the colored reward dots.
  • Remember to periodically change the RFs on the
    spinner so that students dont get bored or
    satiated with a particular reinforcer resulting
    in the spinners loss of effectiveness

  • Same concept as Mystery Motivators
  • The reinforcer is placed in a bag and is earned
    when the student uncovers an X on the chart.
  • The bag is earned when the spinner lands on the
    grab-bag section
  • Student can reach into the grab-bag and choose a
    wrapped reinforcer without looking in the bag.

Lottery/Raffle Tickets
  • -Teachers can reinforce on a daily basis
  • -Students write their names on earned tickets and
    deposit them in designated container in the
  • -Drawings can be held once-twice a day, weekly,
    or monthly depending on the prize and the level
    of reinforcement the class requires.
  • -for the weekly or monthly drawings, all coupons
    earned for the week or month, including those
    which have already been drawn for prizes, are
    place din a container for the future drawing.
  • -Students know that if they did not win in the
    daily drawing that they still have a chance in
    the weekly or monthly drawing.
  • -COST or FINE SYSTEM if a student has to be sent
    to the office or some other discipline action for
    more severe behavior, the student can be
    disqualified from collecting a prize if their
    name is drawn.

Guidelines for using Lottery/Raffle Tickets
  • 1. Select specific target behaviors (academic
    and/or social).
  • 2. Design or select tickets.
  • 3. Determine how often initial drawings must be
    held so that students will be motivated to work
    for tickets.
  • 4. Explain the program to the students. Which
    behaviors will result in their earning tickets.
    Role-play if necessary.
  • 5. Implement the program.
  • 6. When giving out ticket, praise and
    specifically describe the behavior that merited a
  • 7. Make sure to reward tickets to students who
    have not exhibited the targeted behaviors
    previously, but are doing so now.
  • 8. Make sure to reward tickets to students who
    have exhibited the target behaviors in the past
    and continue to do so.
  • 9. Evaluate the program within 2 weeks when
    implemented daily or 4 weeks when implemented
    weekly. Make any necessary adjustments.

Reductive Techniques
  • Differential Reinforcement
  • As important as it is to reward good behavior, it
    is equally important to fail to reward bad
    behavior (Active Ignoring).
  • (Ex. DRODifferential Reinforcement of Other

What principles influence the effectiveness of
reductive techniques?
  • -Reward rate should be high.
  • -Reward an appropriate behavior that interferes
    with the misbehavior.
  • -Do not adapt the student to the reductive
    technique (e.g., start off with a less intense
    form of the reductive techniques and gradually
    work it up).
  • -Start early in the students behavior chain of
    misbehavior (identify the trigger misbehaviors in
    the chain).
  • -Maintain peer attention to your advantage (use
    peer attention to reward appropriate behaviors
    through the use of group contingencies.

How do you use active ignoring?
  • Active Ignoring is briefly removing all attention
    from the misbehaving child.
  • Guidelines to follow
  • 1. Briefly remove all attention from your child.
  • 2. Refuse to argue, scold, or talk.
  • 3. Turn your head and avoid eye contact. (clinic
  • 4. Dont show your anger in your manner or
  • 5. Pretend to be absorbed in some other
    activity-or leave the room.
  • 6. Be sure the childs bad behavior doesnt get
    him a material reward (e.g., candy bar)
  • 7. Give your child lots of attention when his
    bad behavior stops.
  • (These steps are a mild form of Time-out)
  • (Ex. Downs Syndrome child)

What behaviors would you use active ignoring to
  • Whining and fussing
  • -Pouting and sulking
  • -Loud crying intended to punish parents
  • -Loud complaining
  • -Continuous begging and demanding
  • -Breath holding and mild tantrums
  • -SPITTING!!!!!

Rewarding good alternative behavior
  • Target behavior Good Behavior
  • To be decreased to be increased
  • (active ignoring) (use praise
  • 1. Whining 1. Talking in
    a normal

  • tone of voice
  • 2. Toy grabbing 2. Toy sharing
    toy trading
  • 3. Hostile teasing 3. Playing

What is Grandmas rule?
  • The Premack Principle!! you can watch TV after
    you finish your homework . After you do your
    chore you get to play.

  • Money
  • -Money is a conditioned reinforcer, it is used to
    trade for things that we want or find desirable
    (e.g., food, car, clothes).
  • The child is reinforced for positive behaviors
    by earning tokens or points. They can lose tokens
    or points for inappropriate behaviors. The child
    can periodically turn in the tokens or points for
    certain rewards (reinforcer) such as free time,
    candy, etc.

  • Thus, the token economy is comprised of three
  • .Behaviors to be reinforced are identified and
  • .A medium of exchange is selected. A medium of
    exchange refers to some symbol or token that a
    child receives after successfully completing a
    target behavior.
  • .Back-up reinforcers are provided that can be
    purchased with the tokens.
  • Token economies have been successfully
    implemented for a wide variety of individual s
    and settings, such as residential settings for
    juvenile delinquents, psychiatric wards,
    classrooms for individuals with developmental
    disabilities, general classroom, the military,
    and normal family homes.

What are some advantages of a token economy?
  • 1. Tokens can be administered immediately after
    the target behavior occurs.
  • 2. It is easier for teachers to dispense tokens
    than verbal Reinforcement when dealing
  • with student within age group.
  • 3. Unlike edible and activity reinforcers,
    tokens can be used to reinforce a students
    behavior at any time without interrupting the
    lesson or having satiation occur.
  • 4. Tokens maintain a students behavior over
    long periods of time.
  • 5. Tokens allow use of the same reinforcer for
    students that favor different reinforcers since
    they can be exchanged for items each finds
  • (Reinforcer Stores)

Rules for establishing a Token Economy
  • .Develop rules
  • .Select an appropriate token (be careful of
  • .Establish reinforcers for which tokens can be
  • .Establish Select a target behavior
  • .a ration of exchanges
  • .Develop a reward menu and post it in the
  • .Designate a time when children can exchange
  • .Implement the token economy
  • .Provide immediate token reinforcement for
    acceptable behavior
  • .Gradually change from a continuous to a variable
    schedule of reinforcement
  • .Provide a time for the child to exchange tokens
    for back-up reinforcers
  • Revise the menu frequently

Multipurpose Point sheet (token economy)
  • Designed to focus on five general classes of
    behaviors those teachers find particularly
    troublesome for certain students. This system is
    designed to encourage students to perform
    specified behaviors throughout the day regardless
    of the teacher or content area.
  • .New sheet can be attached every day, or can be
  • .Operational definitions of the behavioral
    categories and the number of points students can
    earn for each behavior
  • .A reinforcement menu to choose reinforcer they
    are earning pints towards.
  • .A schedule for exchanging points for back-up
    reinforcers should also be included

Multipurpose Point sheet (token economy)
  • Success depends upon cooperation of all
  • Main reasons teachers balk on using this
  • .they may think it is too time consuming
  • .Some teachers may resent having to reinforce
    students when they expect them to be good.

  • Mark is an 11-year-old 6th grader at Boondock
    Middle School. Mark had been diagnosed with
    ADHD, but is currently not receiving any meds.
    Parental report indicates that the family is of
    low SES and that they have difficulties
    controlling Marks behavior. Teacher report
    indicates that Mark is, to put it frankly,
    driving them batty. According to the teachers,
    He has difficulty staying in his seat, verbal
    outbursts (not raising hand), coming to class
    prepared (paper, books, pencils, etc.), bad
    attitude (arguing with teacher), stealing, lying,
    and poor social skills with his peers.

  • Based upon the above information, what type of
    behavior plan would you create to address some of
    Marks difficulties? Which sort of reinforcement
    system would you use and why? Would you
    incorporate only positive forms of RF, negative
    forms of RF, or both and WHY? (Why? Why? Why?)
  • What was actually implemented at the site..

What are some common errors that adults can make
that contribute to causing behavior problems? (4
common errors).
  • .Failure to reward good behavior
  • Jessie a 5th grader, walks up to her father to
    show him her report card. Father, sitting in his
    easy chair is busy reading the paper. Jessie
    says I made pretty good grades Dad. Would you
    like to see my report card? Dad? Father
    replies, yes, but let me finish reading the
    paper first.Would you go and ask you mother is
    she picked up the dry cleaning today

Adults accidentally punish good behavior
  • Jarred 8-year-old wants to surprise mother by
    washing the lunch dishes.
  • Jarred I washed the dishes all by myself mom!
  • Mom Its about time you did them on your own.
    Now what about the pans on the stove? Did you
    forget about them?.

.Adults accidentally reward bad behavior
  • 5 year-old Tommy and his mother are in the
    grocery store. Tommy spies a candy bar he wants.
  • Tommy I want a candy bar! Mom, I want it,
  • Mom No Tommy, its too close to supper for you
    to have a snack.
  • Tommy (Tantrumming) I WANT THE CANDY BAR,
  • Mom fine have the darn candy bar and quit
    screaming about it, its embarrassing.

Adults fail to punish bad behavior (when mild
punishment is indicated)
  • Jim is a 5 year-old with Downs Syndrome who is
    sitting in the playroom with his caregiver. When
    the caregiver begins to talk to another adult in
    the room, Bob throws his baseball at the
    caregiver. The caregiver looks at Bob, then says
    to the other adult, boys will be boys.
  • Main points to remember
  • 1. Both good and bad behaviors are strengthened
    when rewarded.
  • 2. Reward the childs behavior quickly and
  • 3. Avoid rewarding the childs bad behavior.
  • 4. Use some mild punishment to decrease or
    eliminate some behaviors

  • Clark, L. (1996). SOS Help for Parents A
    practical guide for handling everyday behavior
    problems. Bowling Green Parents Press.
  • Jenson, W. R., Rhode, G., Reavis, H. K.
    (1994). The Tough Kid Toolbox. Longmont Sporis
  • Maag, J. W. (1999). Behavior Management
    From theoretical implications to practical
    applications. San Diego Singular Publishing
  • Rhode, G., Jenson, W. R., Reavis, H. K.
    (1992). The Tough Kid Book Practical classroom
    management strategies. Longmont Sopris West.
  • Sheridan, S. M., Kratochwill, T. R., Bergan,
    J. R. (1996). Conjoint Behavioral Consultation
    A procedural manual. New York Plenum Press
  • Stage, S. A. Quiroz, D. R. (1997). A
    Meta-analysis of interventions to decrease
    disruptive behavior in public education settings.
    School Psychology Review, 26, 333-368.

Practical Considerations within the CBC context
  • When parents are involved in their childrens
    education, their children do better in school and
    go to better schools.
  • Parental participation is related to increased
    student achievement, better school attendance,
    better study habits, fewer discipline habits,
    more positive attitudes toward school, more
    regulate work habits,and greater similarity
    between the school and family.
  • Parental involvement is considered to be
    essential variable in improving the likelihood
    that interventions to solve school problems will
    be maximally effective

Practical Considerations within the CBC context
  • Behavioral theory is founded on the assumption
    that behaviors are learned as a function of their
    interaction with the environment.
  • .Ecological theory considers that the child is an
    inseparable part of of systems (their
    environment) from which they cannot separated.
  • Home and school are the largest and most
    impactful systems that a child is part,.
  • Thus, both ecological and behavioral theorists
    believe that an intervention must take place
    within the home setting and major social
    institution such as the school
  • Further, interventions that are in concordance
    with the childs settings (home and school ) are
    more likely to produce last change

How to maximize on the advantages of utilizing
both Home school with reinforcement systems
  • The parents could provide the renforcers at
    home. They might have a better control of
    reinforcers that a child really desires such as
    going to the movies, watching TV, getting a new
    video game, etc.
  • Home based contingencies earn your points in
    school and receive your reifnrcer at home.
  • The 3 things that parents can control greatly can
    influence the childs academic performance
  • 1. absenteeism
  • 2. reading materials in the home
  • 3. TV viewing

Practical Considerations
  • What are some other practical considerations for
    implementation within the CBC context?