Dependent Group-Oriented Contingency
We discussed interdependent and independent group-oriented contingencies in the previous chapter. The third type of group-oriented contingency is a dependent group-oriented contingency where the entire group earns a reinforcer based on one student's behavior. This is especially helpful if the function of the targeted student's behavior is attention because he or she becomes the hero for the group and the others will naturally root the student on and give praise and attention. The downside is that the student may be blamed if the reinforcer is not earned, so the possibility of that reaction will need to be taken into consideration.
Point and level systems are designed to be an organizational framework for managing student behavior where students earn more privileges and responsibilities as they demonstrate more control over their behavior. Point and level systems mirror real life due to the fact that in our society, privileges are given or removed based on our behavior. Take speeding, for example. If an adult is caught speeding, he or she might first receive a warning. If this person continues speeding and is caught again, he or she may be fined. If the speeding continues, this person may lose his or her license, and therefore the privilege of driving, but have the opportunity to earn it back for good behavior.
Point and level systems work in a similar way, with clearly defined behavioral expectations linked to rewards, privileges, and consequences. There are specific criteria for advancement to the next level, where the student enjoys more freedom and privileges. The intention is that students who proceed through the levels are better able to self-manage and capable of handling more responsibility, and therefore enjoy greater independence.
There are many examples of point and level systems that have been used to manage challenging student behavior in a variety of settings.2 We describe in detail several examples of systems that we have used with individual or small groups of students.
Structured Behavioral Skills Program: Daily Level System
We developed this point and level system in the program we taught in together and used it for over fifteen years in various elementary programs for students with behavioral challenges in the public school setting. We know from anecdotal reports that it has been used or adapted in several other school districts at all grade levels, with reported effectiveness.
Students have a daily target behavior sheet, and their performance on the sheet determines how their "reward" or "preferred activity" time is structured for the last twenty minutes of the school day. No student receives an undesirable consequence during reward time. Rather, the activities and privileges they have access to during that time are based on how much they demonstrated that day that they could be trusted to make good choices and get along with others.
Students who earn 90 percent of their daily points can choose from activities on level 1 during reward time. These activities are generally the most desirable (for example, computer games, playing with the class pet) and can be individualized based on student preference. Students who demonstrated that day that they could be trusted to get along with others are allowed to go to other areas of the school with supervision (playground, computer lab) and can interact with other students and adult staff. We sometimes used this time as an opportunity to invite a friend from another classroom to play to provide some appropriate peer modeling and practice various social skills that the student had been working on.
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