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Alliance for the

Study of School Climate

California State University, Los Angeles


“Transform Your School” (TYS) School-Wide Student Discipline, Motivation, Character-Building and Conflict Resolution Program


In addition to school climate assessment products, research and services, the Alliance for the Study of School Climate offers a school-wide behavioral improvement program. The program is entitled “Transform Your School” or TYS. It is aligned with the ASSC school climate assessment and improvement framework and the SCAI. It provides a comprehensive program for behavioral improvement that includes discipline, motivation, character development and conflict resolution. It is designed for schools at the K-8 level and uses the principles from the book Transformative Classroom Management, by John Shindler of CSULA (coming December 2008).


Features of the Program

·         Combines student behavior, character-building and conflict resolution into one comprehensive school-wide program

·         Promotes long-term motivational and behavioral improvement

·         Promotes school pride, positive climate and community

·         Encourages whole staff coherence and school-wide continuity of behavioral expectations

·         Integrates expectations across the classroom, PE, special subjects, playground and other school functions

·         Builds students’ internal locus of control and “Success Psychology” (see TCM Ch. 8)

·         Contributes to student academic achievement and social growth


Contrast to other School-wide Discipline Programs

·         No use of bribes and limited extrinsic rewards

·         No use of public shame or comparisons (see TCM Ch. 20).

·         Minimal cost to maintain

·         Shifts focus from the negative to the positive


System Themes

The key to the program is its positive approach to building a concrete, specific and personal understanding of quality behavior. It features a few key behavioral themes. These themes can be modified to suit the needs of a particular school but typically include most of the following concepts:

o        Cooperation

o        Effort/Trying

o        Respect/Sportsmanship

o        Attention/Listening

o        Responsibility

o        Positive Attitude

Within the TYS program these themes are taught, modeled, assessed, and reinforced throughout the students’ experience across the school.  Recommended applications of the themes include the following:

·         Incorporated school-wide as part of a “theme of the month” focus

·         Incorporated within the class to promote higher levels of performance and improved behavior quality

·         Positive recognition of high quality behavior is recognized with the use of cards (e.g., “cougar cards” or the nickname/mascot of your school) as well as with other forms of positive recognition

·         Reinforced on the playground to encourage high quality behavior and related concepts across different school environments

·         Incorporated in PE and other special subjects to reinforce both character and behavioral expectation and provide continuity

·         Conflict resolution is facilitated by trained student peer CRLs (conflict resolution leaders)

·         Integrated into In School Suspension Programs (if applicable).


Classroom-Level Features:

·         System with rubric for assessing behavior and/or participation (see TCM Ch. 21)

·         Lesson plans for different character areas and conflict resolution

·         Build concepts into lessons and discussions by monthly theme

·         Facilitative-Teacher role (positive recognitions and reinforce or concepts rather than giver of punishment or shame)


Playground Level:

·         Playground staff gives positive recognition and cards (e.g., “cougar cards”)

·         Use loss of time as a negative consequence

·         No shame, negative use of the system, or public recognition of undesirable behavior


PE, Specials, and Out-of-Classroom Interactions:

·         Participation rubric becomes the primary focus of assessment

·         Use of themes in projects games and activities

·         “Catch a student being good” capacity for all adults on campus


Conflict Resolution:

·         Incorporates principles of nationally recognized CRETE program

·         Student peer conflict resolution leaders on-duty at recess

·         Conflict resolution lessons taught in classes

·         School-wide expectation that students possess the capacity to solve their own problems and learn from their conflict (see Ch. 14 in TCM).


Three Levels of Program Application


The TYS Program is designed to meet the needs of schools at all levels of functioning.

1.      Stage 1 – schools see student behavior as a weakness and have a need for a coherent system to improve it.

2.      Stage 2 – schools want to become more consistent with their expectations across domains of the school.

3.      Stage 3 – schools want to move toward 1-Style classrooms and students who think more self-responsibly and who want to shift toward a more community-type school climate (see TCM Ch. 16)


Resources from ASSC to support the TYS Program:

·        Workshops and Readings

o        Transformative Classroom Management (TCM)

o        Conflict Resolution Training for Students and Teachers

o        How to Create Classroom Behavioral Assessment Systems including Sound Rubrics

o        Healthy Use of Rewards (see TCM Ch. 7) and how to use Cards Effectively

o        The Fundamentals of Building a Success Psychology in the School (see TCM Ch. 8).




What training is needed to implement the TYS program?

·        Whole School Development and Decision-making Related to Essential Terms and Elements of the System

·        Support Staff Use of Recognition Cards

·        Teacher Workshops Related to:

o       Basics of TCM

o       Use of Behavioral Rubrics in the Classroom

o       (Additional workshops are available)

·        Peer Mediator Training in Conflict resolution


·        Additional advanced training is available in the following areas:

o       Building School-Wide Community

o       Creating a Success Psychology in the Classroom

o       Working with Challenging Students


·                    ASSC also provides the School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI) which provides a mechanism for school-wide improvement
Rationale for the Use of the Transform Your School (TYS) School-Wide Behavioral Improvement Program


The goal of the Transform Your School (TYS) Program is meaningful behavior change and sustainability. Can we really say a behavioral improvement system has been successful, if it simply bribes and shames students into acting in a way we prefer in the short term? For a system to be truly effective it must work in the long term to change the behavioral culture at the school in and out of the classroom. Therefore, an effective system must work to teach new skills and make high quality behavior more desirable and satisfying for students. Moreover, it must make teacher’s lives easier. The TYS program endeavors to do this.


To better make sense of why the TYS system is different from others, it is useful to examine it more closely in a few key areas--motivation, core concepts, change in undesirable behavior, and long-term effects.



Motivation within the TYS Program

The goals of the TYS system are increasing motivation to behave in positive healthy ways and to have more of that motivation coming from intrinsic sources. The means for doing this include the use of strategies for meeting students’ basic needs and recognizing them for displaying high quality behavior. Each student, as we know, has five basic needs (see Appendix A from TCM): power, freedom, belonging/love, competence and fun. The system promotes the satisfaction of these basic needs as well as promoting the behavior that will help students gain what it takes to continue to meet them throughout their lives.


In contrast to other systems of behavior, the TYS system uses the distinctive idea of positive recognition to support behavior change and growth in contrast to bribes for desirable behavior. While the TYS system uses cards to symbolically recognize high quality behavior, the use of the cards varies dramatically from other systems. In many behavioral systems students are given cards as extrinsic rewards to be later turned in for prizes relative to the number of cards obtained. The TYS system simply uses the recognition of the behavior as the reward. So what is the motivator for the student? It depends on the way that the school wants to utilize the reward portion, but in sum it includes the satisfaction of being recognized, the ability to tell parents and teachers of the recognition, and a concrete and material reminder of a behavior that was valuable in and of itself. In Appendix B from TCM the healthy use of extrinsic rewards is contrasted to the less healthy form defined by bribes and tokens.


In the long term, using this TYS motivational philosophy, behavior changes in a sustained way because it is driven by intrinsic sources--it is meeting basic needs. The problem with the way many systems approach motivation is that their basis on getting students excited about turning in their tokens for a prize; as a result, over time the prize inevitably becomes the purpose for the action. And as time goes on the prizes lose their impact and the familiar conditioned behavioral patterns return. And eventually the students demand more prizes because the system has addicted them to being extrinsically rewarded for doing something intrinsically healthy. In the students’ minds, systems built on bribes send the message that “You would only want to make a high quality effort, treat others well, or act responsibly because adults will give you something for an act that you would never want to do otherwise.”


The Core Concepts of the TYS System

At the heart of the TYS system are core principles. These principles are agreed to by the faculty and staff and can range from five to twelve core concepts. These concepts typically include such core values as effort, positive attitude, respect, responsibility, listening, and being prepared.  Successful character building efforts make these abstract concepts both concrete and personally meaningful. In the TYS system, the school’s core concepts are taught and reinforced across the various aspects of the students’ school day and even into the home. When these concepts are made concrete and meaningful students recognize that they are the pathway to a more satisfying experience at school. When they are recognized for their demonstration, students learn that the school genuinely values them when they are doing their best and that the school is not simply concerned about test scores and focused on students who misbehave.


Chapter 21 in Transformative Classroom Management helps outline these core concepts.



Creating Rubrics and Making the Core Concepts Clear

·         The core concepts in TCM should be very clear and consistently applied across the school. A useful practice for doing this is to create very detailed rubrics for behavior. As outlined in Chapter 21 of TCM.  These rubrics can be used in the regular classroom, PE, art, music, assemblies, fieldtrips, and on the playground. They provide a language for reinforcing behavior and a clear set of criteria for assessing it. In contrast to behavioral systems that are based on recognizing negative behavior, the TYS focuses on what is desired, not on what is not desired. (For a detailed explanation regarding why not to use colored card systems and tokens see TCM Ch. 20.)



In a conceptual sense the TYS “flips the rubric” when compared to the colored card systems, as shown in Figure 20.C from TCM.


Figure 20.C: Descending Levels Model Rubric Structure--Used in Public Shame-based Behavioral Systems.

OK/Acceptable Behavior - Green
Warning/First Level Misbavior
Yellow,Problem/Second level
Red,Big Big Problems












Ascending Levels of Behavior Rubric – Used in Behavioral Quality Assessment Systems such as the TYS School Wide Behavioral System


OK behavior - Level 1,Good Behavior - Level 2,Excellent Behavior - Level 3








Unacceptable Behavior - 
Consequence Implied                                            




So what difference does it make which direction the rubric faces? It makes a great deal of difference. One of the defining characteristics of a rubric is that it encourages behavior to develop toward its open end. Therefore, when we use the Ascending Levels of Behavior Rubric to assess student performance, we find that the quality of work improves over time as it increasingly moves to the most clearly defined end (Shindler, 2002). In the ascending levels rubric, the open and most clearly defined level is at the top, whereas the open and most clearly defined end of the descending levels conceptual design used in public behavioral assessment systems is at the bottom. In each case, we find a great deal of practical and psychological incentive to exhibit behavior that is defined by the level at the open end of the rubric.


Dealing with Misbehavior

In the TYS system, there is no use of public recognition for behavior that is unhealthy or undesirable. If a student’s behavior violates classroom, school, or playground rules, the student deserves to be given a consequence. We recommend the use of withdrawal of privileges or opportunities to participate as the primary form of consequence in most cases. School beautification, helping the teachers, doing tasks for the office, and other service-related activities should be left for students who have earned the right to contribute as a reward. Opportunity is what one gets when one makes the effort to act responsibly, and inactivity is the consequence students get when they show that they are not ready to handle the responsibility that was given them.


We also encourage behavioral contracts and individualized support for students who are struggling to make healthy behavioral choices.

Contracts are outlined in Chapter 14 of TCM.

Working with Challenging Students is outlined in Chapter 15 of TCM.


Appendix A: Meeting Students’ Basic Needs (from TCM Chapter 7)


Intrinsic motivational techniques cannot be as easily explained as separate techniques or strategies when compared to the extrinsic techniques. Like any successful methodology, they must be developed intentionally, but a holistic approach is most effective. Much of the process of promoting intrinsic motivation involves the removal of barriers to the students’ abilities to access their inner motives and satisfiers. Rewards, pain-based motivators, meaningless tasks, learning in isolation, and a lack of support all act to block intrinsic sources of motivation. For one’s intrinsic sources of motivation to grow, the learning context must support them.


It may be most instructive and practical to examine many intrinsic motivational ideas within a single structure--that of basic needs. Inquiry and Problem-Based Learning, Increased Responsibility, and Achieving Personal Growth all make much more sense when we examine them within the context of how they meet basic needs. Unlike extrinsic forms of motivation, intrinsic forms are less about adding something. For instance, basic needs simply exist, and we all have them. During the school day they are either met within the context of the learning environment or students will be forced to meet them in alternative ways. In some cases, the alternate means students use to meet their needs manifest as disruptive behavior and problems for the teacher or unhealthy habits for the student.


Basic Needs

Each of us has fundamental basic needs that we must find a way to satisfy (Glasser 1980). If we are unable to satisfy them, we will experience some type of dissonance. While theorists vary slightly when identifying the core areas, the basic human needs for love and belonging, power, competence, freedom, and fun seem to be inherent and universal.


These basic needs exist continuously both in and outside of the classroom. The evidence that a student comes from a home in which their basic needs have been met is usually quite apparent. Most likely, they act more confident, centered, and trusting. The time spent at school can often have an even more determining effect on students’ ability to meet their basic needs than their time away from school. The activities in which they are engaged are more structured, limiting their ability to meet their needs more naturally, and in many cases, meeting one’s need is more challenging at school. As a result, we discover that students find numerous creative ways to get their needs met during the school day. Quite often these means lead to what is labeled “inappropriate behavior.”


As teachers we have no choice but to recognize that students have basic needs, and that those needs will manifest themselves one way or another. Most students have the ability to deny their needs for a short period of time, but to do this day after day would be intolerable. And more importantly, student should not have to endure a school environment that denies their basic needs. For some teachers it may require a paradigm shift, while for others it may help clarify their perspective. But a critical ingredient to successful classroom management is to view all problems though the lens of basic needs initially. For example, if we look out at our class and see faces wrought with frustration, a common but highly ineffective response will be to view that reaction as inconvenient to us and what we had planned. A more effective reaction, one that will lead to a solution, is to ask ourselves, “What basic need is lacking right now?” When we view student misbehavior within the lens of “I need them to know that their behavior is inadequate,” it will lead us down a management solution dead end. While we are not obliged to meet every student’s basic need, when we examine the behavior and/or emotional climate in our class through the lens of basic needs, problems become illuminated, diagnosis gains coherence, and solutions become more evident.


When basic needs are not being met, the reaction by the student (i.e., the coping mechanisms) can take the form of either an internal or an external reaction. As each basic need is examined more closely, these reactions become more evident, as well as how each basic need can be met in the classroom.


Love and Belonging

Each of us needs to feel that we are loved and that we are a wanted part of a group. The desire to be accepted by the group is considered by many theorists as the fundamental human drive (Driekurs, 1974). Moreover, our sense of self acceptance is greatly influenced by factors within our environment. If we feel perpetually unloved, alienated or isolated, common internal reactions include a sense of guilt, worthlessness, loneliness, lowered self-esteem, while common external reactions include acting out, over-achievement, clowning, and pleasing. Teachers can give students a greater sense of love and belonging by recognizing unique qualities and talents, creating an emotionally safe community environment, and showing genuine care and respect.



Each of us needs to feel that we have some control over our destiny. If we do not experience a sense of “agency” in our lives we feel helpless. And as we will discuss in the next chapter, a sense of power is fundamentally related to the development of an internal locus of control. If we feel we do not have any power, common internal reactions include becoming withdrawn and passive-aggressive, while common external reactions include rebellion and hostility. Teachers can give students a sense of power by giving students choices, giving responsibility and opportunities for leadership, giving ownership for the development of class procedures and the social contract, and refraining from 4-Style management strategies.



Each of us wants to feel a sense of self-efficacy. We need to feel that we are capable and have something valuable to contribute. Much of our identity is connected to what we can do, and how well we can do it. If we feel useless, unvalued, incompetent or unappreciated, common internal reactions include losing motivation and/or a sense of inadequacy, while common external reactions include bragging, acting overly competent, attention-getting, and excuse-making. Teachers can give students a greater sense of competence by focusing on progress and not products, removing conditions in which comparisons among students are used, recognizing incremental achievement and original ideas, expressing high expectations, and helping students achieve the goals they have set for themselves.



Chapter Reflection 7-l: Recall a situation in which you felt very competent. How did you act? How would you describe your level of motivation? Conversely, recall a situation in which you felt little if any sense of competence. How did you act? How would you describe your level of motivation?




Each of us needs to feel that we are autonomous and have freedom of choice. We must feel a sense of liberation to be able to express our individuality. If we feel too restricted or imprisoned, common internal reactions are becoming withdrawn or resentful, while common external reactions include fighting back, active resistance and/or seeking paths around authority. Teachers can help students experience freedom through supporting autonomy and creativity, avoiding personal praise and disappointment, validating differing viewpoints within the class, and fostering the attitude that the teacher does not have nor must have all the answers, and the idea that everyone makes mistakes.



Each of us needs to be able to have fun and experience wonder and joy. Fun may be difficult to define. What is fun for one person may not be fun for another. Yet we all feel the need to experience enjoyment and whimsy.  If we are put in a repressive and/or tedious environment, common internal reactions include boredom, frustration and daydreaming, while common external reactions include making one’s own fun, engaging the teacher in (off-task) games, and hostility. Teachers can promote students’ sense of fun by the use of humor, providing opportunities for creative play, making learning engaging and interesting and a thoughtful use of healthy competition.





Chapter Reflection 7-m: The word “fun” draws different reactions from those in different positions. Sometimes the idea that learning needs to be fun can feel oppressive and fill us with guilt or disdain for those who tell us to make things more fun (such as our students). But take a closer look at the idea of fun. What makes you happy? What feels like fun? When do you see a look of joy on the face of your students? Fun need not involve big laughs and a party. How could you meet your students need for fun, without betraying your values as a teacher?



As we examine the conditions that meet basic needs we find that they have the effect of promoting intrinsic motivation and vice versa. When we assist students on a path of personal growth, we inevitably meet the needs of power and competence. When we give increased responsibility, we are not so much adding something or giving something to the student, we are allowing the basic needs for power, contribution, and belonging to be fulfilled and the student therefore to bloom. And as we examine the effect of instruction on motivation in Chapter 13, it will be evident that creating a learning context in which basic needs are met is a more effective means to achieving student motivation than bribing students to do work they find meaningless and unsatisfying.


Appendix B: A Thoughtful Use of Extrinsic Motivation


From TCM Chapter 7: Adopting a More Intentional and Effective Approach to the Use of Extrinsic Behavioral Reinforcement

It is a well-established reality that human behavior can be conditioned by environmental stimuli. While we can debate the extent to which one’s behavior is externally conditioned or has its source in more internal drives, as educators we need to recognize the power of environmental conditioning. If we examine an effectively managed classroom, we will see a teacher who understands behavioral principles. That does not mean the teacher will overuse extrinsic conditioning or even rely on it as a motivational strategy, but will understand that the forces of behavioral conditioning are operating continuously.


The starting point to making sense of behavioral conditioning is to understand that in a conditioning situation there will be something that acts as a focal event/action/operant and then there is something that happens afterward to reinforce it. For example if we wished the family dog to consistently fetch a stick that we throw, we might give the dog a treat each time he/she brought back the stick, and only if he/she brought back the stick. In this case the dog learns that when they do the desired behavior (bringing the stick back), they will be reinforced (obtaining the doggy treat). Yet, it is important to remember that in one’s efforts toward behavioral conditioning, especially when it relates to humans, little or none of the actual conditioning/learning that actually occurs will necessarily resemble the conditioning/learning that was intended. For example if we examine most punishments, the intention is to create a disincentive related to the unwanted action. But what is actually learned is much more complex and typically takes the form of a disincentive to interact with the source of the punishment or the creation of a new set of skills to get around the punishment in the future (we will examine punishments in more detail in Chapter 10).


When we examine the use of extrinsic rewards in practice, it is understandable why they are so popular, as well as why some would view their byproducts as undesirable. In most cases, they work in the short-term to motivate behavior. But there are several questions that should be asked if one is to use extrinsic reinforcements for an extended period. They include the following:


  1. Is the motivation to perform the behavior increasing, or just the motivation to obtain the reward?
  2. Will the schedule of reinforcements be sustainable? Or will a greater amount of reinforcement be needed in the future (see discussion on weed pulling later in the chapter).
  3. What is ultimately being learned?
  4. Like the children in the story above, are we replacing an internal source of motivation with an external one, and as a result extinguishing our students’ intrinsic motivation?


If you are attempting to develop a student-centered 1-Style classroom, the frequent and/or sustained use of extrinsic rewards will be inherently counterproductive. They will work against the development of such outcomes as self-responsibility and the inclination to reflect on what will lead to one’s personal growth and/or the common good of the group--dispositions that are essential to the 1-Style classroom. On the other hand, they can be part of a very effective teacher-centered classroom and assist the teacher attempting a 2-Style approach in his/her effort to promote more efficient student behavior.


For those who feel compelled to include extrinsic forms of reinforcement among their motivational strategies, it may be helpful to consider the following guiding principles for how to use them effectively.

  • Relate the reinforcement to a clearly identified desired behavior. The primary focus should be on the accomplishing the desired behavior rather attaining the reward.
  • The more closely in time the attainment of the reward is to the desired behavior the stronger the effect of the reinforcement will be.
  • Intermittent and/or random schedules of reinforcement will be more powerful than regular and predictable schedules of reinforcement.
  • Reinforcements that are given after the display of an “expected” behavior will be more effective than arrangements and “deals” made before the desired behavior is performed.
  • Avoid putting students in situations in which they are competing for rewards, especially meaningful rewards. Only use competition in cases where all students are in an equal position to display the behavior if they so choose. Rewarding effort, good choices, cooperation and other things that students can control can be effective at attaining more of those behaviors. But competition that includes rewarding winners for ability, personality, parental support, and/or academic performance will undermine the level of motivation in the class and can even backfire with many students when it comes to the desired behavior change.


Following these guidelines will not lead to higher levels of intrinsic motivation, but they will likely be effective in changing behavior in the short-term. Moreover, they will help reduce the dependency of students on rewards and make it easier to remove them over time. When we do gradually remove the reinforcements, we should be left with a substantial amount of new “learned behavior” and only a minimal amount of “withdrawal” from the students who have developed a dependency on the reinforcement.


Below are three examples of typical but problematic uses of extrinsic rewards followed by a more effective strategy in the same situation:


Typical but Problematic:

“If you all do your work, I will give the class a prize on Friday.”  Problems include: the reward is too far removed in time; the probability that a reward is going to be needed for every desirable behavior; and when Friday comes, you will likely be in a difficult spot. It is a certainty that some students will have met their end of the bargain and others will have not. Do you see the potential problem?


Better Idea:

You have just spent the entire period focused on a task, that is the first time you have all been able to do that, I am going to give you all ___ (extrinsic reward or removal of a negative reinforcer).”  This is better because it was random, immediate, and will cause behavior change. The students know what they did, so they will likely repeat it. They will not expect it, but will exhibit behavior that they understand may be reinforced. A lesson was learned, when we ___  (e.g., do our jobs), the teacher will reward us (recall social frame development in Chapter 2).


Typical but Problematic:

“The group that does the best job of ___ at the end of the day will get a prize.”  Problems include: this is competitive and there will be some resentful people eventually; the work is done in anticipation of the prize – the prize is primary and the purpose of the behavior is secondary; and the reinforcement is not well connected any particular repeatable behavior (good reinforcement promotes the repetition of desired behavior).


Better Idea:

“I asked you to put away ____ and take out ______, this table did it right away without being asked again, so they will get (thing, time, being first, first choice, etc).”  This is better because: it will change behavior, as the other tables will be much quicker in the future anticipating that something similar might happen again; it reinforces your expectations – real learning took place in a very concrete example; it was immediate and clearly related both in time and causality; and the focus is on the “expected” behavior first and the reward second.


Typical but Problematic:

A “token economy” or arrangements where students get points for certain behaviors and the points are added up for some reward at the end of a certain period. Problems include: behavior done primarily for extrinsic rewards. This is essentially paying students to do what they should be doing and what we want them to love to do for its own sake. We are destroying both of those goals. The schedule of reinforcement is continuous. Continuous reinforcement leads to a gradual decrease of motivation. It ends up creating a lose-lose decision, “Do I increase the reward to maintain the motivation level, or do I slowly watch my students begin to demand an extrinsic reward for everything and increasingly avoid behaviors that are not rewarded (including just about everything that we want them to care about in our class)?”


Better Idea:

If you are committed to the use of a point system:

  1. Use it for a short duration at the start of the year (three weeks or less).
  2. Use it to clarify your expectations. Relate your reward system to the critical expectations that are necessary for the class to function, such as listening, cooperation, efficient procedures. This process may be useful when attempting to shift from a 2-Style to a 1-Syle classroom.
  3. Use only random and/or intermittent reinforcement schedules. Random is the best. That is, students realize what the desired behavior is supposed to be (working cooperatively, listening, being on task, raising hands, etc.) but they do not know when the reinforcement will occur (If you compare the level of the desired behavior in a random reinforcement condition vs. a fixed condition, you will be amazed at the difference).
  4. Give points and take points away without warning. Warnings always weaken reinforcements.
  5. Do not give a large amount of attention to the points. Attach your emotion to the accomplishment of the behavior rather than the attainment of the points.
  6. The ultimate reward cannot be meaningful or substantive. It cannot relate to grades, your affection, or something of real material worth. In fact, simply achieving the most points can be enough of a reward in and of itself, and may be a preferable reward in our effort to emphasize that the process was the point, not who won or lost.
  7. Make it a game for fun and mutual entertainment, and focus on how it is leading to behavior change. Again the extrinsic is always presented as a material reminder of something of real and intrinsic value such as learning or becoming a better class.



Incentives can take many forms such as prizes at the end of the week for successfully performing a task or refraining from an undesirable task, or group privileges for being first or best, or rewarding students who do well on one task the chance to opt out of a further task. They concretize the non-verbal bargain: “If you (the student) do something that the teacher has determined is good, you will get something that you should like.” In this way, incentives can be helpful in clarifying what is desirable behavior. At their best they can help promote good habits and shape more functional patterns of action. For example, if a mother provides a child an incentive to make the bed every day, the child may become comfortable with that behavior and continue it throughout their lifetime, even after the incentive is not longer present. In the case of healthy behaviors that become intrinsically satisfying once they become habits, this can lead to positive long-term benefits. However, with any extrinsic reward, we must question whether the incentive has contributed to the development of good behavioral patterns, or has just bribed students to do something that they would not have done without the bribe, and will not do once the bribe has been removed. And if over time the students do not experience any internal satisfaction from the behavior being induced, the incentive will eventually lose its power.



Chapter Reflection 7-d: Recall situations in which you were given rewards for doing a task others wanted you to do, or to do better. Were you motivated? What is your association with that task today?



One popular incentive strategy is that of Preferred Activity Time (PAT) (Jones, 2000). PAT sets up the bargain that if you (in this case, the student) apply yourself acceptably to an academic task now, you will be given the opportunity to do something that you really like to do later. On the surface, this strategy “works.” That is, it motivates the student to do what it takes to attain their “preferred activity.” However, as we examine this strategy closer, we discover that when put into practice, it has two undesirable by-products. First, while it may work in the short run, like other bribes it will lose its effect over time. Students will eventually return to their previous level of motivation for the academic activity. Moreover, they will become accustomed to the bribe and likely demand it. Second, it will reinforce the principle that the work that is being done in the academic time is something that is undesirable. If we bribe students with a preferred activity, we actually generate the previously-unconsidered question, “preferred to what?” What is the association that we are creating? Is it that academics are inherently un-enjoyable? While this strategy is attractive, consider its costs and long-term effects. And if you feel you need to bribe your students to engage in learning, you may want to consider the alternative of making the learning activities in your class engaging and inherently motivating (Chapter 13 will offer ideas on how to do this).



Chapter Reflection 7–e: Reflect on the following parable:


There was once an old man who lived by a park and worked the night shift at the factory. During the day he liked it to be quiet so that he could get some sleep. He lived alone and did not like children very much. So when the children began to play ball at the park and make lots of noise, it made him very angry. He tried to ignore the noise, but it did not work. As he reflected on his dilemma, he was struck by a cunning plan. The next day, he went to the field and addressed the children. He told them that he loved the sound of their play, and that he once had children and it reminded him of them (neither was true, by the way). Then he told them that if they came to play faithfully, he would pay them each a quarter. The children were pleased, to say the least, and thought the old man was the greatest. The next day the old man arrived and paid each child a quarter. He did the same thing the next day. The children were very happy. The next day he arrived right on time, but gave the children some bad news. He told them how much he loved to hear their voices as they played and how it made him so happy (which was a lie), but he did not have much money and could only pay them a quarter each. The children were a little disappointed, but agreed to come back and play for the smaller amount. As promised, he paid them a dime for the next 3 days, but on the next day he again had some bad news. He told the children that he really hoped that they would come out and play, but that he was out of money and could no longer pay them. At this the children were very upset. After a quick conference, the children decided that they could not play if they were not going to be paid, and they left, never to return. The old man went home and was able to sleep in peace and quiet that afternoon.


Do you think the story represents a valid reality? Can you think of an example of this same principle in your own experience?



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