I have yet to indulge in a pumpkin spice latte this season. I can’t decide if I should do a reinforcement sampling technique and have one BEFORE my exam or make it contingent on completing the exam and have one AFTER.
My husband suggested I could do both.
- Eric (via text): Damn right skippy
- Me (via text): Hippie
- I do not even know the origin of this phrase. Every time someone says, "Skippy" I reply, "Hippie". It makes me smile.
It’s just a small change …they thought
We decided he/she no longer needs that much [reinforcer] anymore.
We’re taking away that [reinforcer] and they do.
And now there are problems; problem behaviours have emerged or are increasing either at school or at home. What has happened is a phenomena known as behavioural contrast.
Behavioural contrast is a change in the rate of a behaviour in one setting when changes are made in another setting; these changes are often restrictions or limits placed on the behaviour and/or access to the reinforcer. This occurs because many of our behaviours are on a multiple schedule of reinforcement. Each schedule (i.e., how often/when the reinforcer is accessed) is different depending on such variables as where we are and who is present. For example, eating at home and access to food occurs occurs quite freely so rates of eating may be higher there. At school or work, eating is only permitted at certain times of the day and there may be limits as to what someone can eat (e.g., you may not have access to a stove to cook fresh Kraft Dinner). Restrictions or changes in one environment can increase food-accessing behaviours in the other.
A common reinforcer to try and plan for in classroom settings is access to technology (e.g, computer, iPad, video games). These are typically items students also have access to at home. When planning on their use as a reinforcer in the classroom it is important to have communication with home to get a sense of how often those items are accessed and under what conditions (and vice versa - i.e., it would be a good idea for the home to know how often a reinforcer is accessed at school). Are they freely accessed? Are they earned? And if so, for how long? Have they been recently taken away as “punishment”? Has their use been scaled back because the thought was the person is spending too much time on these devices?
Behavioural contrast tells us that changes to reinforcement in one environment will effect rates of behaviour in the other. Ideally both home and school have a similar/consistent approach to the use of reinforcers to avoid a large contrast. Concerns typically arise when one setting suddenly makes changes and does not notify the other setting. Reinforcers may become ineffective in one setting because of increased/free access in the other OR because of limits and restrictions in one setting, the student is now engaging in more behaviours that access that reinforcer in the other setting.
Reinforcement is a delicate thing. Behaviour can be fickle as a result. The message here: treat even the smallest changes as though they will have a large impact on others. Discuss changes as a team. Involve all parties (including the student). Plan and prepare to avoid large behavioural contrasts.
Hi Tricia-Lee, I came upon your site while looking for information on implementing ABA strategies in general education classrooms for behavior management. Any articles that you can suggest would be greatly appreciated, as most everything I find is about inclusion of students with autism or special education classrooms.
- Antecedent: My nephew is sitting beside me. I am looking at a menu with lots of pages in it. Nephew has a crayon in his hand and had been previously colouring on his kids menu.
- Behaviour: Reaches over to my menu with his crayon and attempts to mark the page with it.
- Consequence: I say "no" and take my menu away.
- There are times when you just have to say "no". The restaurant probably wouldn't appreciate having their professionally done menus marked up with crayon. The paper kids menu is the discriminative stimulus (SD) for colouring; thus, as soon as my menu was out of reach I placed his menu closer to his hand with the crayon and said he could colour there (which he did). I resumed glancing through my menu in my nephew's presence and there were no further attempts to mark it up (i.e., behaviour decreased). Therefore, my "no" was punishment for colouring on the "adult" menu.