Academic journal article Education

The Behavior-Reward Contingency Plan: An Incentive Program for Education in the 90's

Academic journal article Education

The Behavior-Reward Contingency Plan: An Incentive Program for Education in the 90's

Article excerpt

The Behavior-Reward Contingency Plan is designed to assist educators and administrators in creating an environment that is conducive to learning, while ensuring appropriate student behavior. This innovative model is based on the concepts of response cost, time-out, student contracts, and reward/recognition, which are employed to shape behavior according to agreed upon expectations. In essence, the Behavior-Reward Contingency Plan is a program wherein students receive a reward at the end of each week, which is contingent upon the degree to which they have met the behavioral expectations stated in the student contract. This model addresses some of the typical hidden curriculum issues through which educators strive to impart the values of a democratic society. In addition, the proposed Behavior-Reward Contingency Plan is designed to allow teachers and administrators to adopt and modify the system to meet their particular school needs.

Considerable attention has been given to the status of our public schools, during the past decade. Whether an individual is an educator, politician, parent/guardian, news reporter, or a citizen within the general public, she has probably read, discussed, or observed the behavior of youngsters in one or more of the nation's public elementary or secondary schools. Unfortunately, much of the general public's exposure to behavior in schools is often generated in a negative light due to the occurrence of misbehavior of students. In addition, an emphasis on negativism associated with most individual's perceptions of students or the school environment exacerbates the actual condition. There is probably not a single individual who disagrees with the assertion that students misbehave in school and that this misconduct ranges from students talking when the teacher is explaining a concept at the chalkboard to very violent acts. On the other hand, the vast majority of students demonstrate very positive behavior and attend school with the intent to obtain an education so they can be productive citizens at school and in the future.

Factors Associated with Shaping Behavior

It has been well-documented that various factors related to reward and positive recognition are extremely important elements associated with influencing a youngster's behavior. Concomitantly, negative reinforcement and denial of privileges are also behavioral management strategies linked to shaping an individual's conduct. All of the aforementioned impact a student's behavior in school in a combined manner. Due to the complexity of factors that influence behavior, it becomes very difficult to flush out which particular factors influence a child's or adolescent's behavior at school and in the home environment. Most would agree, however, an educator, guidance counselor, school psychologist, or anyone else attempting to influence a youngster's behavior may never really know which element(s) in the school, home, or peer group are impacting students' behavior, whether it is positive or negative conduct.

This frame of reference is very important when one examines student behaviors from the perspective that a youngster's behavior, be it negative or positive, is a symptom of his/her inner being and/or some element within his/her environment. The problem in studying behavior is that an educator, parent/guardian, psychologist, or other change agent has extreme difficulty, if it is even possible, isolating the cause of the behavior. Coupled with this problem are the very serious issues of the time and energy needed to isolate the causal element(s) of the behavior, and the number of students in the school setting who require extra attention. Both of these issues impede well-intended teachers and administrators from delving beyond the obvious and into related social issues that merit further investigation.

A Model for Behavior Management and Student Motivation

A legitimate question arises, "What can educators do to create an environment conducive to learning and ensure appropriate student behavior? …

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