Hendrickson praise

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Hendrickson praise

  1. 1. EDUCATION AND TREATMENT OF CHILDREN Vol. 32, No. 4, 2009 Forty Years Later — The Value of Praise, Ignoring, and Rules for Preschoolers at Risk for Behavior Disorders Peggy P. Hester Old Dominion University Jo M. Hendrickson University of Iowa Robert A. Gable Old Dominion University AbstractThe pivotal role of teachers in establishing positive, supportive, inclusivelearning environments based on the implementation of empirically-supportedteaching strategies (IDEA, 1997, 2004: NCLB, 2002) is uncontestable.Nonetheless, it is not uncommon to find classrooms characterized by teacherreprimands for inappropriate behavior, coercive interchanges betweenteachers and children, and limited use of positive teacher feedback. Thissuggests a need for teachers to implement scientifically supported strategiesfor promoting positive social and academic growth of young children at riskfor behavioral disorders. In the context of a multi-tiered approach to positivebehavior supports, we decided to revisit three classroom-level interventionsstrategies for which there is longitudinal evidence regarding their efficacy —namely, praise, planned ignoring, and classroom rules. Each is discussed,along with guidelines for use by classroom teachers with the goal to improveteacher-child relationships, build positive learning communities, and managedifficult behaviors.A mong public school teachers who abandon the profession due to dissatisfaction with teaching as a career, the primary reason is• classroom behavior problems (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002). Unfortunately, discipline problems are commonplace in many schools, and the majority of these problems emanate from behavior patterns established during the early childhood years (Webster- Stratton, 2000). Although estimates vary, approximately 3-6% of the school-age population is in need of special education services because of emotional/behavioral problems (Kaufïman & Landrum, 2009).Peggy Hester, PhD, Child Study Center, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529;e-mail: phester@odu.edu. Pages 513-535
  2. 2. 514 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLE Research further indicates that between 7 to 25% of young children demonstrate externalizing behavior disorders (Loeber, Burke, Lahey, Winters, & Zera, 2000). According to Webster-Stratton (1997), 50% of preschoolers with behavior problems are later identified for special education services. In general, poor social-emotional adjustment is associated with later academic problems (Loeber, 1990; Markowitzet al., 2006). Children with challenging behavior receive less support,nurturing, and positive feedback than other children (Raver & Knitzer,2002; Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993). Finally, both teachers and students tend to reject children who exhibit challenging behavior (Kendziora,2004). Children who begin their schooling with a repertoire of behav-iors that are appropriate to the classroom are more likely to be success-ful learners (Conroy, Hendrickson, & Hester, 2004; Sugai & Horner,2006). Yet, despite empirical evidence of successful early interventionsfor young children at risk for or with behavior problems (e.g., McEvoy& Welker, 2000; Strain & Timm, 2001, Webster-Stratton, 2000), it is notuncommon to find classrooms characterized by teacher reprimandsfor inappropriate behavior (Van Acker, 2004), coercive interchangesbetween teachers and children (Kern, White, & Gresham, 2007; Shoreset al., 1993), and limited use of positive teacher feedback (Sugai &Horner, 2006). This underscores the need for teachers to have the skillsnecessary to promote positive pupil classroom behavior (Kenziora,2004). Researchers (e.g.. Dodge; 1993; Kaiser & Hester, 1997) have longemphasized the importance of quality early childhood education thatis determined, to a large extent, by the nature of teacher-pupil interac-tions (DeKruif, McWilliam,. Ridley, & Wakely, 2000). That is, qualityinstruction stems not only from the content of the curriculum, but alsothe process of teaching, that is, how teachers teach a curriculum andhow they interact with children (DeKruif et al., 2000; Pianta, 2006).This conceptualization highlights the pivotal role of teachers of youngchildren with challenging behaviors and the goal of establishingpositive, supportive, inclusive learning environments that stem fromempirically-supported teaching strategies (IDEA, 1997, 2004: NCLB,2002). With the current emphasis on a multi-tiered approach to posi-tive behavior supports (Sugai & Horner, 2006), we decided to revisitclassroom-level interventions strategies for which there is longitudi-nal evidence regarding their efficacy—namely, praise, planned ignoring,and classroom rules. Three of the most widely researched strategies for supportingpositive, adaptive behavior of young children are praise, planned ig-noring, and classroom rules. These strategies were first researched and
  3. 3. FORTY YEARS LATER 515recommended over forty years ago (e.g., Becker, Madsen, Arnold, &Thomas; 1967; Madsen, Becker, & Thomas; 1968; Zimmerman & Zim-merman, 1962). Notwithstanding empirical support, not all teachersmake regular use of these strategies. Arguably, establishing positivelearning communities, fostering childrens academic and social learn-ing, and managing the difficult behaviors of young children are morecritical today than forty years ago. With the great range of diversitythat characterizes present day classrooms, these goals remain elusivewithout teacher understanding of how to competently implement thebasic strategies of praise, planned ignoring, and classroom rules. Inthe following discussion, we examine and highlight the circumstancesunder which praise, planned ignoring, and classroom rules are mostlikely to have a positive influence on the classroom community andindividual children, discuss factors that can negatively impact out-comes, and provide examples related to implementation. To be suc-cessful, it is essential that preschool teachers of children at risk foremotional and behavioral disorders be well versed on the proper useand potential pitfalls of these three basic strategies. Praise Simply put, praise is a verbal statement that follows (and some-time temporally overlaps) a target behavior. The general intent is toprovide positive feedback, encourage, and support the occurrence ofthe target behavior (e.g., sharing, accurate performance, sticking to atask). T^hus, when praise is well-timed and appropriate to the child,the task, and the situation, the target behavior is likely to be strength-ened and occur again at a future time. Beginning with empirical stud-ies by Zimmerman and Zimmerman (1962), Becker, Madsen, Arnold,and Thomas (1967), and Madsen, Becker, and Thomas (1967), the useof teacher praise has been associated with increases in childrens cor-rect responses, level of task engagement, and frequency of appropri-ate behavior. The effectiveness of praise is grounded in the appliedbehavior analysis principle of positive reinforcement which states thata consequence (in this case, praise) that immediately follows a behav-ior results in the strengthening of that behavior and that the person(e.g., the child) is more likely to engage in that behavior again in thefuture (Alberto & Troutman, 2009; Kerr & Nelson, 2010). Conversely,if the target behavior decreases, the variables associated with praisemay need to be reexamined and/or altered to increase its effective-ness. As noted, over the years praise continues to be identified as akey strategy in promoting positive teacher-child relationships andestablishing supportive learning environments (Gable, Hester, Rock,& Hughes, 2009; Stormont, Smith, & Lewis, 2007; Walker, Colvin, &
  4. 4. 516 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLERamsey, 1999). To be effective, there are a number of guidelines formaking the most of this time-honored strategy. In the following sec-tion we discuss critical factors that impact the effectiveness of praise.These include (a) contingency, (b) immediacy, (c) consistency, (d) ef-fect on the behavior, (e) proximity, (f ) specificity, (g) opportunities torespond, and (h) characteristics of the consequence. In addition, wediscuss collateral effects that can result when implementing the useof praise.Contingency The relationship between a target behavior and a praise state- ment is known as the contingency. When the target behavior occurs, it should predictably be followed by teacher praise. The use of con- tingent praise has strong empirical support (Stormont et al., 2007; Strain & Joseph, 2004). By way of example, if the teacher praises the child each time the child is behaving appropriately (e.g., answering a question correctly, attending to a task, or positively interacting with apeer), she is praising contingent on the target behavior. The temporalrelationship between the behavior and the praise statement (reinforc-er) is the contingency. Praise that is delivered contingent on the occurrence of a targetbehavior can also have collateral effects. For example, Jennifer is noto-riously possessive, and developing her cooperative behavior (specifi-cally sharing) is a priority goal identified by both her mother and herteacher. One afternoon Jennifer is playing at a table with play dough,and although she rarely allows other children the use of materials inher possession, Jennifer hands the oval cookie cutter to Scott. Jenni-fers teacher takes advantage of the moment to use supportive praise."Jennifer, its very nice of you to share the cookie cutter with Scott."After which, Jennifer smiles broadly, her eyes twinkle, and she handsanother cookie cutter to Scott. In turn, the teacher is reinforced forher alertness, for observing the sharing behavior, for briefiy stoppingwhat she was doing, and for praising Jennifer. The teacher then makesa mental note to email Jennifers mom, and says, "Jennifer, I knowyour mom will be very proud that you shared today! I cant wait totell her." The simple act of contingently applying praise not only ap-pears to reinforce Jennifer because she shared a second cookie cutterwith Scott, but also has the collateral benefit of reinforcing an array ofother positive behavior support strategies (e.g., positive communica-tion with family).Immediacy For praise to be effective, it should occur immediately after thebehavior occurs, especially if the praise is delivered for a behavior
  5. 5. FORTY YEARS LATER 517that the child has not yet mastered. Immediate praise that emphasizesthe correctness of a task (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) helps to keep thefocus on the target behavior. If praise is delayed, there is the potentialfor unexpected collateral effects. For example, Mr. Johnson is care-ful to say, "Good job," each time after Devon raises his hand, but hebegins to notice that Devon has stopped raising his hand. When Mr.Johnson talks to the paraprofessional about this, he is surprised whenthe paraprofessional says that she actually thought Mr. Johnson hadbeen praising "coloring," not "hand-raising." Although the Mr. John-son is glad Devon was not disruptive, he realizes that his praise wasdelayed and he was reinforcing "work" behavior and not the targetbehavior of "hand-raising." The teacher recognizes that he needs topraise Devon immediately after raising his hand or while Devon hashis hand raised.Co7isistency Children are more successful when behavior supports are con-sistently applied (Sugai & Horner, 2006). Systematically deliveredpraise is one of the important positive behavior support strategiesat the teachers disposal, especially when teaching a new skill or be-havior (Alberto & Troutman, 2009). If praise is unpredictable, that is,sometimes a behavior is praiseworthy and sometimes it is not, confu-sion can arise. It is not uncommon for teachers to overestimate their use ofpraise. Teachers may believe that they use praise appropriately andoften, yet in spite of their eftorts, the same students continue to misbe-have. These kinds of teacher statements are supported by the empiri-cal literature (see Anderson & Hendrickson, 2007; Shores et al., 1993)which documents a discrepancy between teacher perceptions of theiruse of a variety of teaching strategies and their actual classroom useof those strategies. For example, rates of praise in classrooms for stu-dents with behavioral disorders reportedly range from 1.2 to 4.5 perhour for each student, while the ratio of reprimands to praise state-ments is 3:1 (Sutherland, « Wehby, 2001). It is unlikely that the teach- &ers in this study would believe that they were providing three timesthe rate of reprimands to praise, but perception and classroom realityoften do not coincide. In fact, use of reprimands is highly predict-able in teacher interactions with low performing students (Van Acker,Grant, & Henry 1996). The principles of applied behavior analysis are clear—consis-tent praise (reinforcement) each time the appropriate behavior occursis best when teaching a new behavior (Alberto & Troutman, 2009).Therefore, it is vital for teachers to be aware of the fact that there may
  6. 6. 518 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEbe a disconnect between what they intend to do in classrooms andwhat they actually do. Self-check procedures for intervention fidel-ity (e.g., via occasional video tapings, peer coaching) can improve thelikelihood that teachers will consistently engage in supportive teach-ing behaviors such as praise (Gable et al, 2009). Once a behavior isestablished (or learned), that behavior can be maintained by the judi-cious use of intermittent praise (Alberto & Troutman, 2009; Kerr &Nelson, 2010) and new behaviors can be identified for more frequentpraise. Though it is irrational to expect a teacher with a classroom full ofchildren to praise a single child each and every time a target behavioroccurs during the entire day, consistent praise remains a key elementin teaching a new behavior. The solution is simple. It begins by iden-tifying a critical skill or behavior for a child that needs to be increasedand the activity or time period that will provide the greatest oppor-tunity for success. Once a childs target behavior increases and main-tains during this shorted time period, the teacher can maintain thetarget behavior during this time period with intermittent praise, andselect another time period or activity in which to praise consistently.Ejfed on the Behavior Despite empirical evidence on the effectiveness of praise in in-creasing positive student behavior, praise certainly is not a positivereinforcer for every student or a given student every time (Brophy,1981). To determine the utility of praise, the teacher must observe itseffect on the childs behavior (Brophy, 1981). The observant teacherwill note that praise is positive for one student but negative for another(Ollendick & Shapiro, 1984). If the child continues the task for whichhe is praised, smiles, and looks pleased, it is likely that praise is beingapplied effectively. On the other hand, if a child stops engaging in thetarget behavior, initiates inappropriate behavior, and scowls and talksback, it is likely that praise is not the preferred intervention. The effect of praise on a childs behavior also is related to thechilds developmental level (Spiker, Hebbeler, & Mallik, 2005) andstage of learning (Pianta, La Paro, Payne, Cox, & Bradley, 2002) withregard to the behavior or skill of interest. If a child is very competent ina particular skill, praise may actually worsen the childs performance(Kast & Connor, 1988). Moreover, praising children in front of theirpeers can be counterproductive if those children view teacher praiseas embarrassing (Brophy, 1998; Long & Morse, 1996) or do not want tobe singled out for recognition by the teacher (Feldman, 2003). In addi-tion, praise can have a contradictory effect because some children donot have the desire to please their teachers. To enhance the reinforcing
  7. 7. FORTY YEARS LATER 519value of teacher praise with these children, it is advisable to deliverpraise in situations in which the child is engaged in highly preferredactivities. In any case, it is essential for teachers to monitor the effectof praise statements on childrens performance. As we have empha-sized, effective praise statements are those statements that maintainor increase a childs positive involvement in the learning community.Finally, it is important to note that the use of praise does not negatethe importance of direct instruction of academic skill deficits and theuse of positive and/or corrective feedback on specific aspects of taskperformance.Proximity Generally speaking, close proximity is especially advantageouswhen praising a child (Feldman, 2003; Shores et al., 1993). First, closeproximity enables the teacher to be sure that he or she has the stu-dents attention and that the teacher can observe any immediate sub-tle responses that the child might make (e.g., smile, physical tension).Second, the teacher can somewhat block competing environmentalstimuli (e.g., noise level, visual distractions) and ensure the studentrecognizes the positive intent of the praise statement. Third, the teach-er can establish proximity by joining in an ongoing activity, moving tothe childs location or by asking the child to come to him for a privateconversation. On the other hand, close proximity to the child may not alwaysbe possible, and generally speaking, it is better to praise than to missan opportunity. Group praise is an option in such situations, andthe teacher can identify two or more children by name as part of thegroup praise (e.g., "This team is doing a great job of taking turns. Jer-emy, Dakota, and Alison, thanks for throwing the ball to others!"). Ifthe teacher wants to praise a small or large group of children (e.g.,"Gators, you are all doing a good job picking up the toys!"), she willnecessarily be closer to some children than others. For children forwhom teacher praise is not yet reinforcing, group praise can be a firststep strategy the teacher uses to establish his praise as rewarding tothe child. Praise may be made even more salient and take on reinforcingproperties by pairing it repeatedly with a primary reinforcer (e.g.,pairing praise with access to a favorite toy or activity). Moreover, theuse of group contingencies can foster increased peer interactions andinterdependence others (McCarty, Griffin, Apolloni, & Shores, 1977).Specificity Early researchers (Becker et al., 1967; Zimmerman & Zimmer-man, 1962) advocated the use of praise statements following positive
  8. 8. 520 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEbehaviors and correct responding, and early childhood programsimplementing best practices were filled with teacher echoes of "Goodboy" and "Good girl." Although this basic approach may be effec-tive in increasing the frequency of child behavior, its overall utility asa positive behavior support strategy is limited. Excessive, redundantuse of any praise statement can potentially render it non-reinforcing(Alberto & Troutman, 2009). In fact, the unexpected consequencemay be that such utterances begin to trigger inappropriate behaviorin some children as the statements themselves become aversive tothe listener. The collateral chain of events might include the teachersperception that she tried praise and it did not work, that difficult-to-manage children do not belong in her classroom, or that it is better tonot interact with certain children in order to avoid any escalation ofnegative behavior. Praise that specifically describes the behavior that the teacher istrying to develop is less likely to become redundant or aversive to thechild and more likely to be effective than statements such as "goodjob" (Feldman, 2003). Statements that contain specific task-related in-.formation are more effective than general praise (Hattie & Timperley,2007; Stormont et al., 2007). Specific praise includes such statementsas "Megan, thanks for walking to the pencil sharpener," "Lu, you areplaying quietly with your friend, Kena," and "You paint beautifully,Ricco. I love all of those colors." These types of statements are espe-cially beneficial for the child learning a new skill or a student whomay be anxious about performing a skill or particular behavior. Final-ly, precise praise has the potential collateral impact of allowing otherchildren to understand teacher and classroom expectations that maybe unclear to them (Gable et al, 2009).Opportunities to Respond Sutherland, Wehby, and Yoder (2002) found there was a sig-nificant correlation between teacher praise and opportunities to re-spond to academic requests in a sample of students with emotionaland behavioral disorders. Teachers with high rates of praise providedstudents with many opportunities to respond. Conversely, teacherswith low rates of praise gave students fewer response opportunities,thereby decreasing the overall learning rate and the overall rate ofpositive teacher-child interactions. An effective way for teachers toimprove their rate of praise to children is to design instructional se-quences that allow students frequent opportunities to respond (and torespond correctly). Proactively increasing the number of response op-portunities creates more chances for successful student performance,and more instances for teacher praise (Sutherland et al., 2002), as well
  9. 9. FORTY YEARS LATER 521as the likelihood of enhancing a teachers sense of self-efficacy. More-over, a higher rate of positive teacher-child interaction is likely to im-prove the teachers view of a students learning potential and his orher place in the classroom learning community.Characteristics of the Consequence According to behavioral theory, for a reinforcer (e.g., praise) tobe effective, the child whose behavior is to be sustained or changedmust be in a relative state of deprivation in relation to that reinforcer(Alberto & Troutman, 2009). Therefore, the effectiveness of praise isdiminished if the same statement is used repeatedly (Brophy, 1981;Kast & Connor, 1988). When a child perceives teacher praise as insin-cere (Boggiano, Main, & Katz, 1988; Brophy, 1998) and intended tomanipulate the child into behaving in a certain way, praise can actu-ally undermine the childs intrinsic motivation (Kast & Connor) andenjoyment of the task or activity. Once a child has acquired a skill, forexample, and the teacher continues to praise him every time he sits upstraight, waits in line appropriately, or listens attentively, praise maybecome irrelevant (Brophy, 1988). Intuitively and empirically, we know that praise that is enthu-siastic is more likely to retain its reinforcing value (Filcheck, McNeil,& Herschell, 2001). Furthermore, praise must be matched to the in-dividual childs behavior and performance level (Hattie, 1993; Sugai& Horner, 2006). Praise statements become more effective if they arenovel and vary. They should be appropriate to a childs age, specific tothe target behavior, and take into account a childs likes, dislikes, andpast performance. What works for one child will not necessarily beappropriate for another child. Although many praise statements arelikely to be similar across settings for young children at risk for behav-ior disorders, it is especially important that teachers get to know eachchild, build a positive relationship, and identify praise statements thatbest suit that child. To summarize, teachers and childcare workers of young chil-dren at risk for behavior disorders have a powerful tool in the formof teacher praise. Teacher praise is a well-documented strategy whichcan enhance childrens behavior, positively impact teacher-child rela-tionships, and promote teachers sense of self-efficacy. To be effective,however, praise must be delivered with attention to its immediate im-pact on the childs behavior. Strategies for maintaining the reinforcingquality of praise include applying praise contingently, immediately,and consistently. It is also advisable to use specific praise and be inclose proximity to the child when using praise. Finally, by planninglessons that provide multiple opportunities for children to respond.
  10. 10. 522 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEteachers give themselves increased opportunities to praise and chil-dren have increased opportunities to practice and acquire importantskills. Teacher Use of Planned Ignoring According to Spira and Fischel (2005), around age four, there isa substantial increase in a childs ability to direct his or her attentionand to function in more formal, structured settings. In addition, chil-dren are developing more self-regulatory behavior. Planned ignor-ing, used correctly, can assist the child in discriminating between ap-propriate and inappropriate behavior. To employ planned ignoring asa means of reducing minor disruptive or inappropriate behaviors, theteacher must first confirm the assumption that teacher/adult attentionis reinforcing to the child. Planned ignoring basically is an extinctionprocedure designed to weaken, decrease, or eliminate a behavior byabruptly withdrawing or terminating the reinforcer that is maintain-ing the behavior (Sheuermann & Hall, 2008). For example, when theteacher does not aftend to the "whining" behavior of a child, it signalsto the child that whining will not gain the teachers attention (Alberto& Troutman, 2009; Kerr & Nelson, 2010). If the teacher says, "Remem-ber, use your words," prior to turning away from the whining child,the teacher will have modeled an appropriate alternative for the child.Thereafter, combining attention for the appropriate tone of voice anduse of words, paired with systematic planned ignoring should resultin the weakening or cessation of the target behavior (Ryan, Sanders,Katsiyannis, & Yell, 2007). One must be ever mindful, however, thatextinction means removing the reinforcer that is maintaining the be-havior. Ignoring a target behavior will only decrease behavior if at-tention is the reinforcer (Alberto & Troutman). To illustrate, if a childtakes a toy out of the classroom and the teacher ignores this behavior,ignoring is unlikely to cause the behavior of taking toys to weakenbecause, in this case, the function of the behavior is to obtain the toy,not to gain teacher attention. As in our discussion of eftective use of praise, we will examinefactors that are as critical in the eftective implementation of plannedignoring. These factors parallel the principles needed to successfullyuse praise, including (a) pairing planned ignoring with reinforcementstrategies, (b) contingency, (c) immediacy, (d) consistency, (e) specific-ity, (f) characteristics of planned ignoring, and (g) the eftect on thebehavior.Pairing Planned Ignoring with Reinforcement Strategies Any time a procedure is implemented.to reduce an inappro-priate behavior, the empirical literature supports the simultaneous
  11. 11. FORTY YEARS LATER 523implementation of a procedure for reinforcing an appropriate incom-patible or alternative positive behavior to replace the undesirablebehavior (Ryan et al., 2007). As noted earlier, this dualistic approachshould be helpful to the young child who is developing self-regula-tory abilities. Walker, Ramsey, and Gresham (2003) also contend thatwithout instruction on how to behave, childrens behavior problemswill persist. This is especially true when using an extinction proce-dure. For instance, in the whining example, ignoring whining in apreschool classroom generally means not talking to, looking at, or in-teracting with the child while the child is whining. Then, contingenton the cessation of whining for a predetermined amount of time (e.g.,3-5 seconds), the teacher attends to the alternative quiet, non-whiningbehavior by looking at, talking to, and praising the child (e.g., "I likethat quiet, quiet sound") or by attending to the child when he uses anappropriate tone of voice (e.g., "You are using your words! How canI help you?").Contingency As in the use of praise, contingency, immediacy, and consistencyare essential elements when using planned ignoring. Specifically, ig-noring an inappropriate behavior means that the teacher ignores thetarget behavior whenever the child first begins to exhibit that behavior.Then, contingent on the cessation of the behavior, the teacher praisesthe child for an appropriate behavior that replaces the behavior beingignored. For example, when Katie calls out saying, "Ask me! Ask me!"the teacher turns away from Katie and calls on another child who issitting quietly with his hand raised. Later, when the teacher asks an-other question, she notices Katie raises her hand without calling outto be recognized and she immediately calls on her and praises her forwaiting quietly.Immediacy To insure that the connection between the negative target be-havior and teacher ignoring is clear to the child, planned ignoringshould occur immediately upon the occurrence of the behavior thatthe teacher plans to ignore. Thus, a general rule for the teacher is to bequick to ignore inappropriate behavior and quick to praise the desiredreplacement behavior.Consistency Teachers often complain that ignoring does not work, when inactuality teachers are implementing planned ignoring inappropriate-ly. Teachers may believe they are being consistent, yet from time to
  12. 12. 524 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEtime they may attend, inadvertently, to the target behavior. This inter-mittent attention, even a glance or facial expression, may reinforce thevery behavior the teacher is trying to eliminate. Unfortunately, theseintermittent slips translate into intermittent reinforcement of the childsbehavior, and intermittently reinforced behavior is the most difficultto decrease (Witt, VanDerHeyden, & Gilbertson, 2006). Moreover, ifteachers attend to an inappropriate behavior occasionally, children arelikely to continue to engage in that behavior, even if teacher attentionis negative (e.g., "Stop talking, JJ."). Consistency and immediacy arecritical to successful implementation of planned ignoring procedures(Sugai & Horner, 2006). Teachers who chose to use planned ignoringmust be cognizant of the possible unanticipated strengthening of atarget behavior if they do not carefully and consistently ignore.Specificity We know that when teachers increase their use of specific andcontingent praise, improvement occurs in student behavior and aca-demic skills (Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000). This is especiallytrue when teachers are reinforcing children for appropriate behaviorsas alternatives to the behavior being ignored. To reiterate, specificallydescribing the desirable and undesirable behavior can help the childdistinguish between what is unacceptable and what is expected be-havior. For example, teachers need to tell children exactly what theyare praising and which inappropriate behaviors they will not pay at-tention to (e.g., "Jerome, if you talk out in class today, I will not pay at-tention or call on you. When you raise your hand and sit quietly, I willcall on you."). Specifically describing the desirable and undesirablebehavior can help the child distinguish between what is unacceptableand what is expected behavior.Characteristics of the Consequence In an extinction procedure, there is the assumption that by with-holding reinforcement, the inappropriate behavior of the child willweaken or cease. However, there are times that the inappropriatebehavior of a child is being reinforced in other ways—by the childsclassroom peers, the pleasure the student gets from the behavior it-self, or the opportunity to escape from an undesirable activity or task(Brunhill, 2005; Gable et al., 2009). Thus, teachers must be observantand attempt to determine the function of the childs behavior (Craw-ford, Brockel, Schauss, & Mittenberger, 1992). In other words, whatis the purpose of the childs behavior? Does the behavior function togain social attention? Is the behavior self-reinforcing? Does the be-havior enable the child to avoid or escape an undesirable situation?
  13. 13. FORTY YEARS LATER 525Does the child gain access to a desired object through the behavior?If the teacher consistently, immediately, and contingently ignores theinappropriate behavior, and likewise, praises all instances of an alter-native appropriate replacement behavior and the inappropriate be-havior continues, it is likely that attention from the teacher is not thereinforcer in effect. In these instances, the teacher could continue toignore, but the childs behavior would not decrease.Effect on the Behavior Extinction is a procedure that reduces behavior by abruptly with- drawing or terminating the maintaining reinforcer for that behavior (Zimmerman & Zimmerman, 1962). There are, however, a number of side effects to extinction that must be understood if one uses planned ignoring as a strategy to reduce or eliminate a behavior maintainedby teacher attention. In an extinction strategy, when a teacher begins to systematically ignore an inappropriate behavior by withholding reinforcement (again, assuming that teacher praise and attention arethe reinforcers maintaining the inappropriate behavior), then, basedon behavioral theory, the inappropriate behavior often increases be-fore it begins to weaken (OLeary, Becker Evans, « i Saudargas, 1969). SThis increase in inappropriate behavior is expected. The child is nowtrying harder than before to get the teachers attention. If the teachercontinues to immediately and consistently ignore the childs behavior,the inappropriate behavior will ultimately subside. However, manyteachers find it difficult to continue to ignore when the childs behav-ior escalates. It is reassuring to know that an escalation in the childsbehavior confirms the likelihood that teacher attention is the motiva-tion behind the behavior. On the other hand, if a teacher cannot toler-ate an increase in the problem behavior, even on a temporary basis,then planned ignoring is not an appropriate strategy. If the teacher isuncomfortable with the possible trajectory of the childs behavior, it islikely that he will be less consistent in the implementation of plannedignoring. As we have discussed, inconsistent ignoring may result inintermittent reinforcement of the behavior and make the behavioreven more resistant to intervention (Witt et al., 2006). Planned ignoring is an effective strategy with young preschoolchildren with challenging behavior provided the teacher adheres tothe basic principles of contingency, immediacy, consistency, and speci-ficity, and employs planned ignoring with behaviors that are main-tained by teacher attention. Equally important, the teacher shouldreinforce appropriate replacement behaviors in conjunction with theuse of planned ignoring.
  14. 14. 526 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLE Classroom Rules Over the years, classroom rules have established standards forstudent safety, classroom order, and decorum (Kerr & Nelson, 2010;Van Acker, 2007). The general consensus is that classroom rules shouldbe few, easy to understand, positively stated, and enforceable (Hem-meter, 2007; Gable et al., 2009; Kerr & Nelson, 2010). In addition, posi-tive social and self-regulatory behaviors that are associated with aca-demic success (Spira & Fischel, 2005) can be promoted and sustainedwith systematic application of classroom rules. Classroom rules that cover multiple situations and address rou-tine classroom activities are most parsimonious. Examples of simplerules that can be generalized across preschool settings and activitiesare rules such as "Be safe. Be responsible. Be respectful." These kindsof rules are suited to many teaching-learning contexts. Most educa-tors recognize that rules ofi^er predictability in the classroom environ-ment (Van Acker, 2007), and are, therefore, an important element ofany behavior management plan. Furthermore, rules can, and shouldbe, used to encourage students to accept increased responsibility fortheir own behavior. Each set of formal expectations (i.e., classroomand school-wide rules) should be carefully taught to children and,thereafter, publicly posted, reviewed, and practiced on a regular ba-sis. Some educators (Burden, 2006; Maag, 2004) advocate hav-ing children help to develop the rules. Children can be creative andknowledgeable in their ideas regarding rule development and conse-quences for rule violation. When children participate, they are morelikely to be vested in the rules; however, the teacher will need to guidestudents in discussing potential rules and the consequences for infrac-tions as children tend to suggest consequences that are too harsh orcannot be enforced (Gable et al., 2009). Teachers frequently mistake the development, discussion, andposting of rules as sufficient for effectively implementing them. Also, it is a mistake to assume that young children know and will remember what the each rule means from day to day. Children need to be system- atically taught how to comply with each classroom rule. Appropriate, rule-following behavior needs to be modeled and the consequences of misbehavior demonstrated (e.g.. Burden, 2006; Kerr & Nelson, 2006) until it is clear that the children truly understand the meaning of each rule. Paine and colleagues (Paine, Radicchi, Rosellini, Deutchman, & Darch, 1983) suggest that rules should be reviewed daily, using no more than 3-5 minutes. Graphic organizers and scaftolding strategies may be helpful in clarifying expected behavior and establishing class- room routines (Bear, 2005; Rock, 2004). By reviewing the rules daily.
  15. 15. FORTY YEARS LATER . 527the rules will be fresh in the childrens minds and teachers will bemore likely to implement them consistently. Though evidence suggests that increased compliance usuallyleads to a reduction in the incidence of problem behavior (Parrish,1986), establishing rules does not guarantee positive outcomes. Aswith praise and planned ignoring, contingency, immediacy, consis-tency, specificity, characteristics of the consequence, and eftect on thebehavior are all factors that can contribute to rule compliance and asafe and productive learning environment.Contingency, Immediacy, and Consistency When a child complies with a classroom rule, the teacher shouldreinforce that child for adhering to a classroom rule. It can be a simplepraise statement (e.g., "Susan, you are sitting up straight. I can tell youare ready to leai-n."). Likewise, upon the occurrence of a rule infrac-tion, the teacher must follow through with the consequence for break-ing that rule (Kerr & Nelson, 2010). It may be appropriate to ignorea minor infraction and praise a child who is exhibiting compliance;then, contingent on the child exhibiting the appropriate behavior, thechild should be reinforced for compliance. The negative consequenceof an infraction may be the removal of one of the tokens the child wasearning for extra computer time. What is important is that there arepredetermined consequences for rule compliance and rule infractionsand these are delivered contingent on the child exhibiting the identi-fied behaviors. Coupled with contingency is the need for consequenc-es to be delivered immediately after the occurrence of the behavior.There are two aspects to eftective use of rules, that is, teachers mustbe careful to provide positive consequences immediately upon the oc-currence of the appropriate behavior, as well as quickly implementingthe planned consequence for rule infractions. As with any classroom-level intervention, teachers have to beconsistent in the imposition of a previously identified consequence,for every violation. Failure to do so renders rules ineftective (Madseinet al, 1968). Inconsistent enforcement of classroom rules representsa major source of teacher-pupil confiict (Gable et al, 2009). This sug-gests that teachers should monitor students rule abiding behavior, re-inforce appropriate rule-following, and address (repeated) violationsas they occur (Grossman, 2004).Specificity Rhode, Jensen, and Reavis (1992) suggest the use of precision re-quests to increase student compliance. Precision requests consist of thestudents name; a precise description of the required behavior; use of
  16. 16. 528 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEa polite and unemotional tone; and a wait time of at least five secondsfor the student to comply (Rhode et al.). Children need to know exact-ly what they are being praised for and/or need to do more appropri-ately. For example, to praise specific rule compliance, a teacher mightsay, "Olivia, I like the way you listened while Michael was talking.You were being respectful of others." Likewise, if Olivia talks out, theteacher could give a reminder, "Olivia, remember to be respectful bylistening to Michael when he is talking." This provides the appropri-ate strategy for compliance. When Olivia remains quiet, she should bepraised, even if she was prompted to comply.Characteristics ofthe Consequence When there is a rule infraction, the teacher might initially pro-vide a reminder of the rule, "Remember to Be safe." If the child im-mediately begins to walk instead of run, the teacher should praisecompliance—"You remembered to walk instead of run. It shows youare being safe." However, after a second reminder, the teacher mightneed to model the appropriate behavior and have the child imitatethat behavior, praising compliance (as well as implementing a strat-egy for rule infraction). The consequence for rule compliance has to beas strong as, if not more powerful, than the consequence of noncom-pliance (Lewis & Sugai, 1996). Remember, too, that if a rule infractionis reinforced by teacher attention, a verbal redirection or reprimandwould not be effective; rather it would serve to increase the very be-havior the teacher is seeking to eliminate. This will be discussed ingreater detail in the following section.Effect on the Behavior Students are more likely to follow classroom rules if they be-lieve that teachers are cognizant of compliant versus non-compliantbehavior (Kounin, 1970). Researchers suggest that teachers introducestrategies designed with a two-fold purpose: (a) to decrease the likelyfuture occurrence of the behavior and (b) to increase the probabili-ty that a more acceptable behavior will occur (www.pbis.org, 2005).School personnel need to adhere to the "fair-pair" rule (White & Har-ing, 1980) and introduce ohe strategy to decrease problem behaviorand another strategy to teach an appropriate substitute behavior. Forexample, praise for compliance (e.g., "Devon and Shanieka, the two ofyou have really worked hard to build that tower.-Give me a high fivefor being respectful.") is more likely to increase respectful play thanwaiting until the teacher sees misbehavior and comments on it (e.g.,"Devon and Shanieka, stop grabbing blocks from one another."). The effect on the childs behavior determines whether or not the
  17. 17. FORTY YEARS LATER 529intervention strategy is effective. The reason for a childs failure tocomply may be a fianction of (a) a skill deficit (the child does not pos-sess the skill); (b) a performance deficit (the child possesses the skill,but does not engage in it); or (c) a self-control performance deficit (thechild possesses the skill, but is unable to overcome competing forc-es—anger, frustration, fatigue) (e.g., Gresham, Van, & Cook, 2006; VanAcker, 2007). If rule compliance is not increasing, then it is impera-tive for the teacher to ascertain, "What can I do differently to increaserule compliance?" There are a number of questions to consider: Whyis the child not complying? Does the child understand what the rulemeans and know how to comply with the rule? Does the child knowthe rule, but refuses to comply? Do I need to implement an interven-tion designed to teach the child ways to exercise self-control over hisbehavior? Am I, as the teacher, being consistent in my consequencesto compliance and non-compliance? Do I have an appropriate rein-forcer for compliance? Are there other factors that are maintainingnon-compliance (e.g., children in the classroom laughing at the childfor rule infractions)? While it may not always be necessary to identifya students motivation to misbehave (cf. Grossman, 2004; Lane, Gresh-am, & OShaughnessy, 2002), it probably is important to do so for anystudent who violates a rule three or more times (Gable et al., 2009). Concluding Remarks Programs for young children have changed significantly overthe past forty years. Today, the typical preschool and elementary class-room serves an increasingly more heterogeneous group of children.The rapid growth in cultural and linguistic diversity of the school agepopulation, coupled with recent legislative mandates (IDEA, 1997,2004; NCLB, 2001) impact dramatically the demands upon and re-sponsibilities of classroom teachers (Bagby Rudd, & Woods, 2005).Youngsters enrolled in a given classroom today have a range of abili-ties and present a range of challenges unseen a few decades ago. Theserealities, along with increased behavioral challenges in the classroom,contribute to the high attrition rate among teachers and negative long-term outcomes for many children. Although there is no simple solu-tion to resolving childrens behavioral disorders, we do know teachersplay a pivotal role in the young childs social emotional developmentand educational achievement. In light of the current emphasis onevidenced-based practices (NCLB), we reviewed critically three ba-sic, readily available strategies that have withstood the test of time interms of empirical support. Each the strategies we discussed reflectclassroom-level interventions that can be an integral part of school-wide positive behavioral supports (Scheuermann & Hall, 2008). There
  18. 18. 530 HESTER, HENDRICKSON and GABLEis compelling evidence that these strategies can have a positive effecton child behavior and skill acquisition, contribute to enhancing therelationship between the child and the teacher, and collaterally mayimpact the teachers sense of self-efficacy. Used appropriately and ju-diciously, praise, planned ignoring, and classroom rules can form thebasis of a safe, predictable learning community in which children ofvarying backgrounds, abilities, and needs can be successful learners. Notwithstanding the efficacy of praise, planned ignoring, andclassroom rules when implemented effectively in the classroom, thereremain a number of variables that require increased examination. Forinstance, researchers need to delineate and verify the precise attri-butes of these strategies that are the most essential in increasing andsupporting positive teacher-child interactions. Moreover, researchersneed to identify the types of supports that teachers need to effectivelyuse these strategies. In addition, there is a need for professional devel-opment programs to include these support strategies in their teachertraining programs by providing future teachers with not only with the theoretical foundation, but also the skills required for successful implementation in the classroom. Child learning and behavior are im-bedded in the teacher-child interaction and only when we begin to focus on both the supports that children need to enhance learning and positive behavior and the supports that teachers need to learn, im- plement, and sustain the effective implementation of evidence based strategies will we begin to see on a daily basis the types of high quality teacher interactions that we advocate. ReferencesAlberto, P., & Troutman, A. (2009). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill.Anderson, L. F., & Hendrickson, J. M. (2007). Early-career EBD teacher knowledge, ratings of competency importance, and observed use of instruction and management competencies. Education and Treatment of Children, 30(4), 43-65.Bear, G. (2005). Developing self-discipline and preventing and correcting misbehavior. Boston. Pearson AUyn and Bacon.Becker, W. C, Madsen, C. H., Arnold, C. R., & Thomas, D. R. (1967). The contingent use of teacher attention and praise in reduc- ing classroom behavior problems. Journal of Special Education, 1, 287-307.Bagby, J. H., Rudd, L. D., & Woods, M. (2005). The effects of socio- economic diversity on the language, cognitive and social- emotional development of children from low-income back- grounds. Early Child Development and Care, 375(5), 395-405.
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