Last Updated 28 May 2020

Reflection Essay on Behavior Modification

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In spite of many and long-standing research to indicate that behavioral procedures can produce large achieve in academic skill development, the techniques are hardly ever used in regular education. This can be a main problem when a consultant believes a behavioral intervention is required. Main reviews on programs that work in education have omitted reference to behavioral technology and potential regular education teachers seldom experience in-depth courses on behavioral procedures although the procedures have become more and more practical.

Probable reasons for this situation comprise bias on the part of journal editors, the pervasive influence of psychodynamic psychology, and the association of the behavioral approach with nonhuman research and back wards of hospitals. So as to overcome this situation, behavioral consultants should (a) make greater use of their technology, (b) increase the scope of their research, as well as (c) scavenge in unexplored fields. Education in the United States at present is facing a great challenge.

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Technological advances and the increasing complexity of modern society denote that students have to leave school with the academic skills to meet the rising demands of an ever-changing world. Teachers are faced with the complicated task of providing instruction that will give students the capability to meet these demands. Therefore, educational and psychological consultants require to help teachers identify and use the most effective strategies available to resolve and prevent student learning problems. In some cases, this needs instruction based on behavioral principles.

Unluckily, regular classroom teachers hardly ever base instruction on such principles in spite of a well-developed and established system of effective classroom instruction derived from behavioral principles. If educational and psychological consultants are to make use of behavioral interventions efficiently, they require understanding why such interventions have been ignored. The absence of systematic use of behavioral principles in regular education exists despite many well-documented examples of its efficiency.

An early review of token reinforcement programs by Axelrod (1971), for instance, signified that large gains in academic skills and major reductions in troublesome behaviors could be attained with systems of secondary reinforcers. Studies published over twenty years ago revealed a 1. 5 year gain in achievement test scores in one year, a 1. 3 year gain in 0. 2 year, a gain of greater than 2. 0 years in hundred days, and gains of up to 4. 0 years during a five month period. It is probable that token systems are unnatural and unwieldy to employ.

So far, Lew, Mesch, and Lates (1982) explained a program using more naturally occurring reinforcers in a study involving one hundred and forty three students in Massachusetts public schools. The average academic skill acquisition gain was 3. 4 years in a one year period. In addition, Van Houten (1980) described many instances of easily applied feedback procedures that ensued in huge gains in various academic behaviors. Lastly, a major evaluation of the Follow Through Program examined 9 approaches to teaching academic skills.

Across several measures, including academics and self-concept, the merely two programs to demonstrate favorable results were the behaviorally based ones-direct instruction and behavior analysis. The area of generalization of gains across settings (i. e. , stimulus generalization) as well as time (i. e. , maintenance) has been an area of concern in the behavioral literature. Progress in this domain is as well obvious in recent research. Flourishing implementation of programs managing self-instructional has given rise to specific learner centered methods that can stand up to tests of generalization over settings and time.

Graham and Harris (1989), for instance, reported a modeling and self-teaching package for improving essay writing skills by means of the learner as an active collaborator in planning and evaluating intervention. The outcomes, which generalized across settings and time, match up well with the objectives of education for the reason that schools are to teach and students are supposed to learn useful, socially valid, generalized behaviors as indicators of educational success.

The evidence directs to a conclusion that behavior modification procedures can be an effectual part of an individually developed instructional plan for students displaying wide variations in learning ability. Such findings can be critically significant to consultants working with teachers to improve student performance. Despite the impressive results exposed in the aforesaid studies, behavioral techniques do not come into view to be used in classrooms for nonhandicapped children.

Also, literature reviews concerning school and teacher efficiency do not comprise references to behavior modification studies in the text or in the reference list. In the same way, a complete issue of the American Psychologist devoted exclusively to psychological science and education failed to mention the extensive contributions of behaviorally oriented policies to the field of education. Reasons for such omissions differ, including innocence or misinformation regarding behavioral research, lack of skills for successful implementation, and a negligible regard, diminished stress, or actual bias against behavior modification.

Greer (1982) stated that the American Educational Research Association (AERA) presents barriers to the publication of behavior modification articles. Though others disprove these arguments, a review of famous regular education journals presents an interesting viewpoint. The years 1985 to 1989 were examined for the following journals: The Review of Educational Research, American Education Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Journal of Educational Psychology, Phi Delta Kappan, as well as The Journal of Education Research.

A review of this literature exposed a few articles relating to topics that share similar themes and components common to behavioral techniques and principles. Few of these articles, though, revealed the words behavior analysis, behavior modification, or behavior management. Though a complete ban on behavioral literature is not obvious, clearly none of the examined journals concentrate in the areas central to behavior modification, or even specific teaching strategies. To a certain extent, these journals appear to cover a large and varied array of topics.

Consequently, the little space that is devoted to teaching strategies as well as techniques is shared among various orientations. This leaves little room for reader exposure to the field of behavior modification, mainly as it pertains to education. An argument could be made that specific behavioral strategies and teaching techniques are tackled in preservice teacher training curricula. unluckily, though several special education programs need a course in behavior management techniques, regular education teacher training programs appear not to require any at all (Pumroy, 1984).

Pumroy stated that even though student teachers are receiving some exposure to behavioral principles, it is at a level also negligible to affect later classroom programming. Without receiving sufficient training in behavioral techniques in preparation for teaching, and without supportive evidence presented in regular education journals, it is easy to see why behavior modification principles are not experienced in regular education. As indicated earlier, Greer (1982) cited AERA as having made a victorious effort to exclude behavioral research from its journals.

He further stated that education, unlike medicine and aviation, is unique in its tendency to exclude beneficial findings that force people to abandon their usual practices. Therefore, behavioral procedures that have proved effective are often disregarded by an educational establishment which does not substitute procedures of alike effectiveness. This makes the consultant's job far more hard when the classroom situation calls for a behavioral intervention. Factors outside education have as well had a great impact on the extent to which behavior modification practices have been used within classrooms.

Finally, schools are not situated in isolation however occupy a significant place within society and are has an effect on to a large degree by their environment. Much of our twentieth century thinking and practices have been influenced by the psychodynamic tenets of Freud in which behavior is seen as something manifested from within the individual (Pumroy, 1984). This psychodynamic view infiltrates education in order that individual problems and the learning needs of students are viewed as convenient by manipulating something within the mind or spirit of the student.

Behaviorism as well has an image problem that is difficult to shed. A negative association of behavior modification has occurred with the rats and pigeons of the initial animal research and with the back wards of hospitals that typified early studies. Numerous educational leaders and classroom practitioners may have difficulty generalizing the effectiveness of behavioral techniques from these images to more regularized learning applications in classrooms.

In spite of current examples of effective practices and special attention to socially valid uses for behavior analysis, several critics focus on outdated historic events that were a part of the field's beginnings however are not reflective of modern, practical applications. Negative associations with the language of behavior modification might as well generate resistance to examining behavioral methodology and might guide to a misunderstanding of the practical application of the procedures.

Terms for instance punishment, extinction, consequence, and negative reinforcement might summon frightening images before direct experience with or clear understanding of the procedures occurs. A concluding reaction from the outside that may impose on practice and distribution is the issue of control of their own destinies. Behaviorism is premised on a system of control to change behavior. There appears to be a "big brother" association with behavior management that difficult to understand the fact of reciprocal control of behavior that is at the core of successful implementation.

That is, a practitioner's behavior of delivering consequences is as well under the control of the learner's response. For pupil praise to be effectual, for example, successful student response is dependent on the teacher delivering praise. There is, though, a mutual interdependency in this and all successful learning situations. The teacher will stop using admire if the learner does not perform in an enviable manner. If long-term success is the objective, control must be bidirectional.

This was demonstrated by Graham and Harris (1989) who found that giving control to the student in a carefully planned manner improved learning and maintenance of educational gains. By definition, behavior modifiers are in the business of modifying human behavior. Problems from the outside notwithstanding, if behaviorists have not had the extensive impact on schooling practices they would have liked; they have to examine their own system and its applications to find out where they have failed. One basis of difficulty is the process by which the most usually used behavioral principle constructive reinforcement operates.

Consider a situation in which a student is often disruptive. A common recommendation is for the teacher to admire the student when he or she is behaving suitably. Following this recommendation, the best a teacher can do in the short run, is to break even. If the student carries on behaving appropriately, the teacher has made no immediate gains (for the reason that the student was already behaving appropriately). However, the teacher might come out worse in the short run because some students turn out to be disruptive when praised. Therefore, many teachers are unwilling to use this operation.

Conversely, teachers who do no praise students when they are appropriate but shout at them when they are inappropriate are frequently unenthusiastically reinforced by the reduction in undesirable behavior. As a result, short-term consequences shape numerous teachers into being screamers rather than praisers. There are as well problems in the manner in which behavioral principles are taught. First, behaviorists have not always used their own technology adequately. Generally behaviorists do what other people have conventionally done. In order to change teacher behavior, they write articles and books and give lectures and workshops.

That is, behaviorists have a technology that is a lot based on the effects of consequences; so far they try to modify behavior through the use of relatively weak antecedents. Even their choice of antecedents sometimes involves the weaker of alternatives. Hence, a vocal lecture on how to perform a procedure often supercedes a hands-on demonstration. One more problem has been the focus of behavioral research. Much of the research is a modification of existing principles and procedures. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with learning how to use praise or feedback more efficiently.

Although such research cannot be the main concern when teachers are not using the procedures at all. That is, behaviorists are doing too much research on what we already know a lot about and too little on what do not. Areas that we know too little about are treatment adherence how to get people to do it right and treatment dissemination -- how to get people to do it, at all. An additional difficulty is that the focus of behavioral research has not always been sensitive to teacher needs. The majority interventions handle behaviors that occur several times each day.

Such behaviors permit for the clear evaluation of effects. If, for instance, an undesirable behavior occurs between ten and fifteen times daily for ten days, the effects of an intervention that lessens the behavior to one or two times a day can be clearly evaluated. However some serious misbehavior, occurs hardly ever, yet must be solved on the spot. Consequently, behavioral research has not given enough attention to crisis management or behavior modification on the spot. Lastly, it is probable that too much research has focused on the effects of consequences on human behavior.

Certainly, twenty-five years of behavioral research has recognized the fact that consequences have an extraordinary effect on the occurrence of behavior. Thus far, what is most influential may not be the most easy to apply. Lots of teachers may find it hard to apply consequences indefinitely. It may be more effective to build up easily applied antecedents. For instance, rearranging the seats in a classroom possibly less influential than a token system but is more likely to be applied for the reason that it is easy to do and seldom has to be done.

Consequently the failure of behaviorists to (a) make greater use of their own technology, (b) give greater attention to the problems of treatment adherence and dissemination, and (c) devise functional alternatives to behavioral consequences, possibly factors preventing general adoption of behavioral principles by educators. In brief, twenty five years ago educators did not have a body of literature on which to base teaching practices. Such literature at this time exists, however it is not being used very much and sometimes not very well.

If behavior modification is to become a technology that consultants can efficiently use to produce complete improvement in the quality of education, at least two things have to happen. First, behaviorists will have to work hard in areas they have previously avoided. Second, there will have to be sufficient people around who are prepared to do the hard work. Reference: Axelrod, S. (1971). "Token reinforcement programs in special classes". Exceptional Children, 37 Graham, S. , & Harris, K. (1989). "Improving learning disabled students skills at composing essays: Self instructional strategy training". Exceptional Children, 56, 201-214.

Greer, R. D. (1982). "Countercontrols for the American Educational Research Association". The Behavior Analyst, 5 Lew, M. B. , Mesch, D. J. , & Lates, B. J. (1982). "The Simmons College generic consulting teacher program: A program description and data based application". Teacher Education and Special Education, 5 Pumroy, D. K. (1984). Why is it taking so long for behavior modification to be used in the schools/or am I being too impatient? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, Philadelphia. Van R. Houten (1980). Learning through feedback. New York: Human Sciences Press

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