Action Research Project
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...