Saturday, June 7, 2014

Token Reinforcement in the Classroom

In a previous semester I read an article about token economies being used in the classroom.  The article details what a token economy system is and gives an example of how it was implemented in a classroom and what the results were.  The name of the article is
The Token Economy: Reducing the Disruptive and Off-Task Behavior and it was someone's master thesis during college.  Check out a little synopsis of the article below and how Chevalier used token reinforcement in the classroom. 
The purpose of The Token Economy: Reducing the Disruptive and Off-Task Behavior is to examine the use of a token economy in a classroom setting in order to reduce behaviors that are considered to be off-task and disruptive.  Chevalier conducts an experiment using a token based reinforcement system with a raffle style drawing at the end of each week during a three week intervention.  The data was then analyzed and the results given.  In the study, the purpose of the token economy is to help correct off-task and disruptive behaviors in the classroom.  Providing the students with tokens and then having a raffle style drawing at the end of each week, entices the students to stay on take and behave according to classroom standards.  To have a beneficial impact on homework assignments completed outside of class, a different type of reward system should have been utilized.  Counting and adding tokens for homework completion was unnecessary to demonstrate the effect of the token economy in the classroom setting.  Chevalier’s study did in fact prove that the use of a token economy is very beneficial at curbing disruptive behaviors and helping to keep students on task.  In order to further test this hypothesis, extending the study to different grade levels and classroom situations, as well as holding the study during the whole day instead of only half day, would further indicate the success of this study. 
I have seen the concept of a token economy employed in the classroom when I was doing some observations and substituting in various classrooms.  I have seen the token economy system work and not work.  I do not believe that the token economy should be used to give students coupons to not do homework.  In my opinion, that's teaching students that homework is not valuable or beneficial to them in the growing and learning.  The token economy can be used to help increase on task behaviors and appropriate classroom behavior by providing students with either coupons or tokens which they can accumulate and then utilize to get "rewards".  These reward could, and should, be used to further their education.  For example if you were to use computer time as a reward for accumulating a certain amount of tokens, they students could use an education computer program.  Just remember to use your token economy system in a way that is not just bribing the students, but is used to encourage them to work better and achieve higher goals.
Check out the video that uses token reinforcement system in the classroom, but also used to token system to help students make choices, and even use decision making skill and math computation!  I must say, I think this could be a good idea.

 Works Cited
Chevalier, Nicole Taylor. (2012). The Token Economy: Reducing the Disruptive and Off-Task Behavior (Master’s Project).  Retrieved from Education Resources Information Center. (ED534397.)

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