The psychological-behavioral climate of the classroom : distributions of rewards and punishers



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Many studies have been conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of behavior modification, but most have occurred in the form of laboratory research or intervention studies with special populations. Since few of the studies have taken place in ordinary classrooms, little is known about the frequency and distribution of the reinforcers teachers are using. The rates of reinforcement, their effectiveness, and their contingency, are not known. To address this issue in the present study, teachers in a public elementary school were observed for two 15-minute intervals each over a period of three weeks. Teacher behaviors were categorized every 15 seconds as being positive contingent, negative contingent, neutral contingent, positive noncontingent, negative noncontingent, or neutral noncontingent. Teachers interacted with students at a very high rate, and this rate was due largely to the high frequency of neutral behaviors. Although positive and negative teacher behaviors occurred infrequently, they were much more contingent on student behaviors than the high-rate neutral behaviors. Fourth grade teachers' behaviors were more contingent on student behaviors than were third grade teachers' behaviors. Changes in time of day and activity produced changes in teacher behavior supporting the notion that teacher behavior was somewhat situation dependent.



Behavior modification, Classroom management