IDENTIFYING REINFORCERS A behavior modification intervention is only as effective as its reinforcer.

Regardless of the intervention applied in a behavior change program, if the exhibition of the behavior is not reinforced, the behavior probably will not change. In a behavior change program, all factors may be carefully planned and the intervention precisely implemented, but if the child is not reinforced by the result of his or her behavior, little probability exists for a permanent behavior change. EXAMPLE Jean's third-grade teacher, Ms. Wildler, developed what she considered to be a foolproof intervention to reduce Jean's off-task behavior. She decided that for each five-minute period that Jean was on-task during language arts period, she would receive a small piece of fruit. Ms. Wildler implemented and monitored the intervention for one week. Jean's behavior did not change. During her observation, Ms. Wildler noted that each time jean received a piece of fruit she either gave it to another student or dropped it in the wastebasket. Jean did not like the pieces of apple and orange that Ms. Wildler was using as a reinforcer. Remember: a reinforcer is not necessarily a desirable or undesirable consequence for a child merely because the child's teacher or parent believes it should be (Hall & Hall, 1980; Shea & Bauer, 1987; Downing, 1990; Downing et al., 1991; Smith & Rivera, 1993). EXAMPLE Mr. Jackson, the ninth-grade teacher at Edville Junior High School, was having difficulty getting his third-period social studies class to concentrate on their studies. He decided that he would begin to systematically reinforce their efforts by sending weekly praise notes to their parents. Mr. Jackson knew that every student liked to have notes of praise sent home. Rod, a class leader, became very agitated when he learned of Mr. Jackson's plan. Jack did not want his parents to know that he enjoyed school. His parents thought he should drop out of school and get a job. A reinforcer is not necessarily desirable to John simply because it is desirable to Mary, Herm, or Lucinda. EXAMPLE Mrs. Karaker, an experienced practitioner of behavior modification, maintains a reinforcement menu of at least ten items for her fifth-grade students. She knows the students have individual preferences and become bored with the same old reinforcer day after day. The only true test of the effectiveness of a specific reinforcer with a specific child is implementation-that is, to try it. How can the teacher or parent identify potential reinforcers for the child whose behavior is to be modified? There are several procedures recommended for identifying reinforcers having a high probability of changing behavior in the desired

1977) is a reinforcement preference scale. With these materials. new reinforcers can be added to the list as the teacher or parent becomes aware of them." "like. the teacher or parent presents the child with a variety of objects and activities. By means of pictures and questions. Form C consists of 75 items scored as in Forms A and B and 5 open-ended questions concerning other possible reinforcers. (4) interview with the parent or teacher about the child. or activity. (3) interview with the child. The child selects from these potential reinforcers. The list may be used in a manner similar to the reinforcement preference scale discussed previously." Form B consists of 25 similar items scored in the same manner. are frequently helpful to the teacher or parent who is having difficulty thinking of potential reinforcers. organism (animal. and (5) direct observation. however. such as the one presented in Supplement Two (also at the end of this chapter).direction. . The practitioner can easily develop a preference scale or survey specifically responsive to the individual or group whose behavior is to be modified. comparing." and "like very much. and ranking the reinforcers. both tangible and social. the possibility exists that the child will not respond to the selected reinforcers during the behavior change process. The CRSS includes three parts or forms. Among the available procedures are (1) preference scales. The choice categories are "dislike. The Children's Reinforcement Survey Schedule (CRSS) (Cautela & Meisels. Preference Lists Preference or reinforcement lists. The teacher or parent systematically guides the child through the process of selecting. Form C is applied with children in grades four through six. The disadvantages of the reward list are similar to those of the preference scale. Of course. Form A consists of 25 items. The three forms of the CRSS are presented in Supplement One at the end of this chapter. Preference Scales Commercially available reinforcement preference scales are designed to assist the practitioner in eliciting and ranking the child's preferences. the possibility always exists that the child does not know or simply cannot articulate what is desirable to him or her. the individual is asked to indicate how much he or she likes a certain material object. Forms A and B are parallel short forms for application with children in kindergarten through third grade. It is also possible that the reinforcers suggested in the scale are not desirable to the child or are not appropriate for the child's age. The child's interpersonal skills may prohibit communication of his or her real desires to the teacher. (2) preference lists. person). The preference list's greatest practical value to the practitioner is that it stimulates consideration of a broad spectrum of potential reinforcers.

In the interview situation the following steps should be used as guidelines (Shea et al. 1974b): 1. Many children initially have difficulty making reasonable selections because of a lack of experience in decision making. 1979). and the preference list or scale may be used to stimulate discussion. the interviewer has the opportunity to thoroughly explain the behavior change program and answer the child's questions. The disadvantage of the technique is that it is time-consuming. 4. The reinforcers must be selected in consultation with and by observation of the child whose behavior is to be changed. Define and explain the meaning of individual and/or group reinforcers. the overall quality and rate of the program are enhanced (Raschke. and (2) the adult's skill as an interviewer. Interview with Child Interviewing a child to determine what he or she finds reinforcing is frequently : ductive. The use of the interview technique provides the child with an opportunity to learn to select reasonable and positive reinforcers. 2. Each child has unique personal likes and dislikes.The reinforcers listed in Supplement Two are suggestions for classroom use. and its success is dependent on (1) the child's . Establish rapport with the child or group. 1974a. he or she is asked questions such as "What kinds of things do you like to do?" "What are your favorite toys?" "What do you like to do more than anything else?" The child's responses will be of great help in attempting to pinpoint those items and activities to be used as reinforcers. Also. Explain the purpose of the meeting. The interview technique can be used with small groups as well as individuals. Elicit suggestions for individual and/or group rewards. Thus involving the child in the selection of reinforcers enhances the probability that the intervention will be successful. The child is encouraged to express and discuss desires. The interview should be structured. . In this situation the interview is in itself a learning experience for the child.or group's ability to communicate with the interviewing adult.. 3. There is evidence to indicate that when a child is involved in decision making concerning important elements of his or her program.

administer the inventory. . The administration of the survey includes very specific instructions that empha the confidentiality of responses and the fact that there are no right or wrong ansu From the information obtained. If working with a group.. and summarize the results. The special jobs I like to help the teacher with the most in this class are . Record these suggestions. determine the group's ranking of the rewards. d) Make arrangements for another meeting at which the child or group may choose to add to or change the reinforcers..a) Ask the child or group which rewards could be used as individual reinforcers... • 5. a mult choice format. To assist in the selection of the survey's content. My favorite seating arrangement in this class is . Raschke (1981) published a procedure for designing reinforcement surveys that permit a child to choose personal reinforcers.. c) Request that the child or each member of the group choose three rewards and rank them according to their desirability. b) Give the child or group an opportunity to add to the list of rewards. Have the members vote to decide on the reward. If working with a group. It is useful to record the reinforcers suggested by the child or group on the chalkboard. 2. or a rank-order format.. ask the individuals which suggested rewards could be used as group rewards. an open-ended format. My favorite place to sit in this class is .... the rule I would ch would be . Examples of the open-ended format and mi pie choice format are presented on the following pages.. the teacher is encouraged to consult the list of potential reinforcers presented in Chapter Supplement Two.. .. design a survey inventory. 6. The favorite type of activity that I wish we would do more often in this class is . My favorite way to learn new information in this class is . If I could change one class rule for one hour in this class. The content of the inventory reflects not only the child's likes and dislikes but what is practical and possible in the specific instructional setting. The survey itself may take one of several forms. the teacher develops individual and group pre ence lists. 3. . To develop a survey. My favorite instructional equipment to use in this class is . 8.. the teacher follows four steps: select content items. If I had ten minutes free time during this class. 7. 4.. I would most like to . Reinforcement Assessment: Open-Ended Format 1. The procedure is responsive to the needs and interests of the child and teacher in a specific instructional setting.

Colored chalk 3.. If I were to choose two students in this classroom to do a fun activity with.. Study carrels randomly scattered . Pamphlets d. Lecture b. 14. 10. Language master g..9. . select. Guest speakers 2. I would buy 11. Chairs at tables c. Books c. The person in this school I like most to praise me when I do good work is. Films e. My favorite seating arrangement in this class is a. Felt pens c. I feel proudest of myself when . 13. Reinforcement Assessment: Multiple Choice Format 1. . The way I best like to learn about something new in this class is a. The thing that motivates me the most to do well in this classroom is. . Desks in b. Colored pencils d.. Desks randomly scattered d. In this class. 15. The very best reward in this class that the teacher could give me for good work is . . 12. If I went to the store and had 50 cents to spend on whatever I wanted. My favorite writing tool to use in this class is a. I v. The nicest thing that has ever happened to me in this class for doing good work is . Magic Markers b.. Small-group work h. Tapes f.

Decorating a bulletin board d. Help the teacher grade papers . Put an assignment on the chalkboard d. I like it most when the teacher a. Straightening up cupboards and bookcases 5. When I do well in this class. Good work displayed on a bulletin board 8. The special job I like to help the teacher with the most in this class is a. A favorite activity with a friend d. Sit anywhere I want in the class b. I would most like to earn a. Handing out papers b. Pick a partner to work with 6. The best privilege I could earn in this class for good work would be to a. Playing checkers or a card game b. A favorite activity with a teacher e. Puts my good work on the bulletin board 7. Praise from the teacher c. Informs the class of my good work c. Writes a note on my paper d. When I do good work in this class. Visiting with a friend . My favorite free-time activity in this class is a. Running the filmstrip projector e. Tells me privately in words e. Writing the assignment on the chalkboard f. Working a puzzle or doing a craft d. Listening to radio or playing records c. Draws a big happy face on my paper f. Putting away supplies c. Free time b. c. Smiles at me b.4. Give the class announcements e.

The best tangible reward I could earn in this class would be a a. A monster tattoo c. A Frisbee c. Playing a computer game 9. Ayo-yo b. Certificate of achievement e. A creepy spider e. Happygram c. If I had 50 cents to buy anything I wanted. Receiving an award in front of the class b. A phone call to my parents describing my good work d. Gold star b. Spacemen stamp 11. Some monster teeth . Good work badge d. A comic book 12. Some space dust d. The nicest thing that could happen to me for doing good work in this class would be a. I would buy a. Reading a favorite book f. Receiving an A+ on a project c. Having my work displayed in the hallway e. A poster d. Earning free time for the whole class 10. Scratch-n-sniff sticker f. A warm fuzzy b. Something really different I would work hard for in this class would be a.e. Some Silly Putty e.

A squirt ring 'From "Designing Reinforcement Surveys-Let the Students Choose the Reward" by D. frequently it can sensitize them to the importance of meaningful reinforcers for children. obsen^ the individual doing something he or she enjoys. Direct Observation The most productive strategy for identifying effective reinforcers is direct observarJQR According to an old saying. 93. The obvious disadvantage In applying this technique is that the paren: teacher's level of sophistication as an objective observer is unknown. Direct observation requires the teacher to observe the child's self-selected acti« ties in a variety of situations. 191 Teaching Exceptional Children. It may also be used to c mine the range of successful reinforcers within the child's response repertoire. Although less desirable than a direct interview with the . "If you want to see a person do something well. and during free time. such as on the playground. the parent or teacher interview can be helpful in determining which reinforcers been applied successfully and unsuccessfully by others. the use of the technique can be an excellent learning experience fo ents and teachers. EXAMPLE . Raschke. Interview with Parent or Teacher An interview with a parent or teacher can also be used in an effort to obtain and the child's reinforcers. A vampire fingernail g. dunJ structured time. 74. p. in the classroom. and to list those activities the child chooaJ These self-selected activities and items can be used during the intervention as rn forcers. The parent or teacher interview is especially valuable to the consultant who r ing to determine the level of understanding and acceptance of behavior change niques by the individual who works directly with the child.f. Copyright 1981 by The Council for Exceptional Childn Reprinted by permission. It should bognized that the parent or teacher may not be of real assistance in the selecti potent rewards because of a distorted perception of the child's likes and di? However.

Dee knew that all eight-year-old boys like to play baseball. A few additional suggestions for the selection and use of reinforcers may be useful. thought to be highly potent. prove to be most powerful in changing behavior. Mr. he could play baseball for 20 minutes on the playground. The teacher should provide a variety of reinforcers. After 30 minutes the boys who had finished the assignment could go to a special area of the room and quietly trade cards. In the end. The longer Marvin took to complete the lesson. He told Jamie that each day that he got 80 percent of his. the potency of a reinforcer selected as a result of using any technique can only be determined by implementation. spelling words correct. Dee's fundamental error was that he did not include Jamie in the reinforcer selection process. Many reinforcers. 2. 1. discovered only on a teacher's hunch. the less time he had to trade cards. Many teachers provide a "menu of reinforcers" for their children. whereas some reinforcers. Maron observed that Marvin liked to congregate with this friends during recess to trade baseball cards. She decided to allow the boys to have an additional trading time after they finished their arithmetic lesson. Except for a few basic items such as food and water. Jamie had not only a visual-perception disability but also a gross motor disability. On any given day a variety of items or activities are available to satisfy the diverse needs and interests of the children. Dee was astonished when Jamie did not respond to this reward. . fail to be effective with some children. and these problems interfered with his skill in large muscle activities. Different children value different consequences. It was far more difficult to play baseball than to flunk spelling. There were several reasons why Jamie did not respond. What is highly reinforcing for one child may not be for another. Mr. and Mr. They are permitted to select from this menu. even the most powerful reinforcer will lose strength and must be replaced. Mr. not only to prevent overexposure but also to satisfy the individual and his or her everchanging preferences. Mr. Dee wished to improve Jamie's performance in spelling. no item or activity can be identified with certitude as an effective reinforcer before it has been demonstrated to be effective for a specific child. With overexposure. The total arithmetic period was 40 minutes.Ms. Dee had failed to take them into consideration. It is nearly impossible to identify any event or item that will serve as a positive reinforcer for all children.

the social reinforcer used alone should be adequate. Both have proved effective for identifying reinforcers (Karraker. if tangible rewards are used. The fact that Lisa correctly completed 25 addition problems on Monday to play with a puzzle. With proficiency gained through practice in the technique^ changing behavior. This statement assumes that tangible reinforcers are needed initially in the particular situation. Phasing Out Reinforcers As stated previously. Although several methods for identifying reinforcers are discussed in this seethe two procedures most recommended are direct observation and a direct inter with the child. 4. Consequently it is necessary that the behavior modification practitioner focus particular attention to phasing out the reinforcers over a period of time. 27 problems Tuesday to play with a puzzle. The r allows the practitioner to systematically vary the rewards a child can work for or ferent occasions. In the stages of the behavior change process. Frequently teachers use a tangible reinforcer (with a social reinforcer) initially during the behavior change program. A good reinforcement system is an everchanging blend of established and potential reinforcers.3. a reward menu. The fact that a child is motivated by a specific reinforcer today does not necessarily mean the child will respond to that particular reinforcer next week. Later they change the reward from the tangible reinforcer special activity or privilege (always keeping the social reinforcer). the practitioner can predict when it is time to change reinforcers. is recommended. A change in formance may be the signal to initiate a new reward. This is not the situation in all case . This task is accomplished primarily changing from a fixed interval or ratio reinforcement schedule to a variable interval or ratio reinforcement schedule and by the systematic attenuating or lessening of the average frequency of reinforcer presentation. 1977). Procedures applied to phasing out reinforcers are as follows: Step 1: Social and tangible reinforcers are presented simultaneously to the individual on a fixed reinforcement schedule. It must be remembered that a social reinforcer is always presented concurrently with a tangible reinforcer. as discussed in Chapter 5. To avoid situation. There are many activities and privileges that are potent reinforcers. The task of observing the effects of existing reinforcers and searching for new reinforcers is a continuous process. and 28 problems on Wednesday for the same privilege does not mean she will respond in a similar fashion on Thursday. Reinforcers should not be thought of only in terms of tangible items. a goal of the behavior change process is to train an individt respond to appropriate and occasional social reinforcers only.

On average. paint. Barea phased out the free time reinforcer completely and systematically lessened the social praise Darlene received to approximate that of the other students in the class. Darlene's teacher. paper. comics. Mr. and tangible reinfoare presented on a variable schedule. Barea. They are attenuated over time and are finally extinguished as the formal behavior change program is terminated. During the first phase of the program. Barea implemented the next phase of the behavior change program. In an effort to help her.Step 2: Social reinforcers are continued on a fixed schedule. each time that Darlene improved her score from the day before. magazines) Art materials (clay. Mr. implemented a behavior modification intervention. she was correctly spelling four of ten words on the daily tests. she was verbally praised each time she correctly spelled eight of ten words. During this phase. Barea and a token worth five minutes of free time. However. Darlene was reinforced with free time less and less frequently. crayons) . Tangible reinforcers are attenuated time and are finally extinguished. When Darlene was consistently and correctly spelling eight out of ten words. This area should be selected before a behavior change program is implemented and should contain those items needed to provide reinforcers. In the final phase. Mr. Reinforcement Area A special area may be set aside in the classroom and home to serve as a reinforcement area. Step 3: Social reinforcers are presented on a variable schedule. EXAMPLE Darlene was having considerable difficulty with her spelling assignments. Among the items may be the following: A table and chairs A rug Reading material (books. Social reinforcers are presented simultanec with tangible reinforcers during this step. she received verbal praise from Mr. She was never reinforced for attaining a score lower than her previous highest score.

nor should the reinforcement area be used as a work area. However. The area should never be used or associated with punishment. this increase might also have been a result of the initial ineffciency of either the reinforcer or the practitioner. the initial increase in behavior. This procedure provides the . interventior data provide a yardstick for comparing baseline behavior with new behavior. checkers. the furnishings.8 is an illustration of a classroom with a reinforcement area. the teacher can determine the changes that have occurred as a result of the intervention. ' Intervention data involve information collected on the effects of the intervention during the implementation phase. Figure 4.I tion and collecting and recording intervention data. and interests of the students using the area. By coirparing baseline data with intervention data.9 presents a comparison of Joshua's hitting behavior before and during the intervention. In this graph the target behavior shows an increase during the initial two days of intervention. It is recommended that the reinforcement area be a separate or special area of the classroom or home that is used exclusively for reinforcement. is normal and should be anticipated during the beginning days of the intervention. The practitioner does not want the child to confuse positive reinforcement with punishment. The initial increase in the behavior (days six and seven) was probably a result of Joshua's testing of the teacher's response to his original behavior. Of course. Chapters 5 and 6 are devoted to a] detailed description of interventions applied to increase and decrease target behaviors. cards) Listening equipment (record player. as discussed in Chapter 3. Equally as important as baseline data. tape deck) Viewing equipment (television. chess. Figure 4.Games (bingo. In all probability Joshua was confused by the fact that his previously effective response was no longe' effective. slide or filmstrip projector) Obviously. The importance of continuing to count and chart the target behavior during the intervention can be readily seen on Joshua's graph. The behavior then decreases to zero over the remaining days of the program. developmental levels. and equipment in a reinforcement area must be selected in response to the age. IMPLEMENTING THE INTERVENTION AND COLLECTING AND RECORDING INTERVENTION DATA The next step in the behavior change process is selecting and implementing the interverv. physical size. materials.

verbal assistance. was enrolled in a motor therapy program in an effort to remediate her physical coordination problems. . providing a verbal model for imitation. Wolery. Prompting Some children need assistance during the behavior change process.practitioner with a visual image to be used in comparing the baseline and intervention behaviors." Prompts may include such activities as guiding a child's hand or foot in the completion of a task. prompts are "supplemental stimuli that control the desired behavior but that are not a part of the desired final stimulus. moving the child's head to gain his or her attention. 1986). they must eventually be eliminated. It was decided that during the initial stages of motor therapy Marie would be manually guided by a therapist. and providing printed or three-dimensional material that structures a task (Schloss. and physical prompts (physically guiding the student to the desired response). These include: verbal prompts (hints or cues). a six-year-old child. The data alerts the teacher to the child's response to the intervention and thus to the overall effectiveness of the program at a particular point in time. taking. One of the objectives of her program was walking a ten foot balance beam without assistance. gestural prompts (motions made without touching the student to facilitate response). During the therapy program's assessment phase. EXAMPLE Marie." There are various kinds of prompts that a parent or teacher may wish to apply during the behavior change intervention. Prompting is applicable with several behavior change interventions discussed in Chapters 5 and 6. Although prompts of various kinds may be a necessary component of the behavior change intervention initially. It is important that the practitioner consider the procedures be used to fade the prompt before it is implemented. Marie fell off the balance beam se times in her effort to walk its length unaided. and printed or three-dimensional material used to structure an activity. According to Martin and Pear (1992). He would hold her right hand as she walked the beam. Ault. The gradual elimination of prompts is called fading (Panyan. Prompts are used to increase the probabilities of success in a task. This assistance may be manual or verbal and is called prompting. the child must learn to complete the task independently. and Doyle (1992) define prompts as "any teacher behaviors that cause students to know how to do a behavior correctly. 1980). environmental prompts (the environment is altered to evoke the desired response). Fading includes the reduction of the amount and quality of manual guidance.a child through a task by repeated precise verbal instruction.

Because of the decrease in Shirley's hand-raising behavior. as demonstrated in Figure 4.With manual guidance Marie learned to walk the ten-foot beam with efficiency with few days. 9. this technique may assure new students of behavior modification that their efforts are effective in changing behaviors. . To check the potency of the reinforcer. Establishing and then extinguishing a behavior is not a standard procedure applied in the behavior change process. there is a procedure to test the effectiveness of the intervention. 3) The therapist positioned his hand in progressive steps approximately 6. that is. the practitioner may question whether the observed changes were a result of the intervention or or unknown intervening variable. If a behavior has been firmly habituated into the child's behavioral repertoire. or of reestablishing the baseline (Baseline 2). and 12 inchesfrom Marie's right hand. Curtain had established Shirley's hand-raising behavior at an acceptable level. He had evaluated the effect of reinforcement on the behavior. He then wondered if the reinforcer applied in the intervention phase was the factor that had resulted in her change behavior.10. EVALUATING THE EFFECTS OF INTERVENTION J Once the new behavior has been established at the acceptable level. This is: process of extinction. This query cannot be responded to with exactitu However. 4) The therapist walked beside Marie with his hands at his side. it will not respond to extinction. The process reestablishing the baseline in this situation is as follows: If a behavior is thought to maintained at a specific level by a reinforcer. EXAMPLE Mr. Curtain withdrew it. the practitioner can evaluate the efftiveness of the reinforcer by withdrawing it. Mr. Reestablishing the baseline is not always an effective means of evaluating the potency of a reinforcer. Mr. Shirley's hand-raising response began to be extinguished. However. Curtain could assume that the reinforcer (smiles and verbal praise) was instrumental in increasing the hand-raising behavior. The therapist decided to fade the prompt (manual guidance) and applied the folk ing schedule during the fading process: 1) The therapist reduced the firmness of his grasp on Marie's right hand. Within a few days. he ceased smiling at Shirley and praising her when she raised her hand in class. 2) The therapist grasped only one finger of Marie's hand. 5) The therapist withdrew to the position he normally assumed to observe a person's efficiency on the balance beam. The reinforcer was a smile and verbal praise each time Shirley raised her hand in class.

. . . However. . . it would be a disservice to the child not to reinstate it or not to return to the-intervention state. . . .The use of Baseline 2 in an intervention is at the discretion of the practitioner. Meyer and Janney (1989) call for more practical measures of data collecting and thus the evaluation of the outcome of behavioral interventions in the classroom and school setting. . . . I S R K J ___Baseline data 1___ . J Kekerapan . . and (d) alternative skill acquisition and excess behavior records. Their "user-friendly" measures include (a) the student's schedule of activities. .10 Frequency of Shirley's hand-raising behavior before and during the intervention and as a result of reestablishing the baseline (Baseline 2) . . . These same procedures can be used to supplement the baseline and intervention data collection strategies recommended in this chapter. (c) incident reports. 3 0 2 5 2 0 1 5 1 0 5 0 . once a teacher or parent has determined that the reinforcer was instrumental in the behavior change program. which is evaluated periodically throughout the day. (b) a daily log of student behavior. I S R K J I S R K J I S . R Ha ri K ______________Intervensi_____________ ____Baseline data 2____ (Fasa Pra Intervensi) (Fasa Intervensi) (Fasa Selepas Intervensi) Figure 4. These measures of behavior change are suggested by Meyer and Janney because data collection is less arduous and less intrusive into the ongoing teachinglearning process. .

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