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Catch Me (Being Good) if You Can, LSUA psych professor conducts study of classroom behavior intervention

Released: 07/13/2012

For decades an important piece of advice for teachers who wanted to encourage well-mannered behavior on the part of students was “Catch them being good.” Numerous studies show that pointing out when students are well-behaved and somehow rewarding them improves the likelihood that children will respond in a positive way. The problem over time is that given the many demands on a teacher, it is more likely that good behavior will be overlooked and only when a student becomes a problem will the teacher focus on something other than academics. To address this difficulty, a number of different programs have been designed to help teachers focus on both academics as well as student behavior.

In a study published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Robert Wright (Louisiana State University at Alexandria) and Barry McCurdy (Devereux Center for Effective schools, King of Prussia, PA) designed and evaluated a version of one of these approaches – a program they call the “Caught Being Good Game” (CBGG). Essentially, this is a group game where the teacher – at various times unknown to the students – scans the room and points out if the class is being well-behaved. If they are then the class earns points that can be used to earn rewards such as pencils, candy, etc. The researchers compared this approach to one that involved students losing points for misbehavior. They found improvements in student behavior for both programs across two classrooms.

First author Robert Wright reported that “To change classroom cultures of largely ignoring appropriate behavior and acknowledging disruption is a major undertaking. The development of an intervention (CBGG) that is focused on the instruction and reinforcement of children’s appropriate behavior while yielding  decreases in disruptive behaviors was a major outcome of this project and a step in the right direction.”

About the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions The Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions is the premier journal publishing research-based strategies for improving the lives of persons with severe behavior challenges. These approaches are used in homes, communities and in schools throughout the world. Regular features include empirical research; discussion, literature reviews, and conceptual papers; and programs, practices, and innovations. It is available electronically on SAGE Journals Online at http://jpbi.sagepub.com