Action Research Project

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Laurel McCartney

EDUC 648

Action Research Project

Research Question

This is my first year teaching a gifted class. I have three classes of Math
students. I was distressed to find that one of the classes had students who were
very critical and often made unkind comments to each other. I wanted to find a
strategy to implement in the classroom that would help to build a team building

approach that would result in a more positive atmosphere in the classroom.

Recently, our parish has adopted the Positive Behavior Support program that

is part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Our school has just completed In-service

on this program which also includes the Fish Philosophy and CHAMPS program.

I had already designed a program to implement in my class which I call Celebrate

Success. Therefore, I will be combining all of these in my team-building program

for my class.

The question that my action research project will attempt to answer will be

“Does positive reinforcement of group behavior influence the learning

atmosphere of the classroom?” This will not only be important for the academic

reasons and classroom management, but also for the social/emotional attitudes of

the individual students.


Students need to control their own behaviors and become decision

makers. They need to learn meaningful ways to shape their behavior. There is

usually success when rules and structure are put together. The school-wide

rules give a clear layout of the expected behaviors. I also have expectations

for my classroom routines. I have found through research that a token

system can be used to address some of these issues. There are different forms of

token systems that have been designed as strategies for the classroom. Often these

are used in classrooms with emotional and social problems. In a token system, an

object or token is given to the student as an immediate reward for certain

behavioral responses. The tokens have no value of their own, but they are

exchanged for back-up rewards, such as, tangible products, activities, and/ or

privileges. (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 2006). The use of back-up reinforcers

ensures that the system will be more effective for most students since the student

will likely be interested in at least one of the reinforcers.

Some of the behaviors that I want to address are also academic. I also

want to motivate the students to be interested in doing math. One article I found

addressed the effect of rewards on the motivation for doing math. This was a

small study involving only two students who earned stars for the completion of

math pages. They found that performance increased during the reward phase.

(McGinnis, Friman & Carlyon, 1999).

Since I will be combining a positive reinforcement with a penalty system

because of the school-wide rules and the Positive Behavior Support program, I am

anticipating that the behaviors of the group assessment and the points earned by

the group’s responding to those behavior goals will be a more effective behavior

strategy. A five-fold process in implementing a token system was outlined in

(Carbone, 2001). The problem should be first discussed with the students.

Secondly, both teacher and students should mutually agree on the reinforcer. The

teacher should have an idea of the activities or privileges that will interest the

students and are also feasible for the teacher. Thirdly, a clearly defined and stated

fine should be in place. The...
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