For many years the educational system has sought to find ways to improve academic engagement among students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Many educators have resorted to the use of token economies to encourage these students to display appropriate behavior in the classroom. The purpose of this discussion is to explore Academic Engagement and the effects of a token economy on students with emotional and behavioral disorders. This discourse will contain a literary review that will compare and contrast various studies that have been conducted pertaining to this topic.
According to Greenwood et al. (2002) academic engagement is defined as, a combination of classroom activities which include: asking and answering questions participation in tasks, writing, reading, and discussing academics. Several studies have suggested that successful academic engagement is dependent upon academic enablers. Academic enablers are "attitudes and behaviors that allow a student to participate in, and ultimately benefit from academic instruction in the classroom."(Diperna et al. 2002)
There are various enablers which include the following; interpersonal skills, stimulation, engagement, and study skills. (Diperna et al. 2002) study conducted by Bean et al. (1999) found that engagement in reading and writing improved overall academic engagement skills. Studies have also found that peer relationships impact academic engagement. Watkins and Wentzel (2002) found that peer acceptance motivates students to behave appropriately in academic settings. The authors found that academic environments in which peers were encouraging of academic success, students were more likely to experience successful academic engagement. (Watkins and Wentzel (2002) Greenwood et al. (2002) explains that behavior is a significant factor in determining the amount of academic engagement that can be achieved. The authors explain,
If a student is unruly and disruptive, he or she will be unable to respond to academic opportunities or manage subject matter tasks rapidly and accurately. These actions may "spillover," preventing the learning of others, and may alter or interfere with a teacher's plans for teaching. If many students are engaged in this behavior, subject matter teaching and learning may be stopped altogether. Alternately, if students are well-behaved, watching and listening to the teacher, waiting to receive materials and instructions on what to do, their rate of progress in learning a subject matter will advance. When students are well-behaved, know what they need to study, and are able to access the needed materials independently to read, compute, and perform other academic tasks, progress in learning a subject matter will be accelerated." (Greenwood et al. 2002)
Gable et al. (2002) explain that integrating academic and non-academic instruction for students with emotional/Behavioral disorders may improve academic engagement. The article discusses the "instructional variables that contribute to a positive classroom climate and that serve as setting events for more focused group-individual instructional programs." (Gable et al. 2002) The article also focuses on the challenges that teachers face and concludes that many emotional and behavioral disorders can be minimized through the use of academic and nonacademic instruction. (Gable et al. 2002)
Study published in Education and Treatment of children explains that academic engagement and behavioral cooperation is achieved when children with behavioral problems are given both positive and negative reinforcements. (Mccomas et al. 2002)
This claim is supported by various studies that have been conducted over the past seven years. For instance, Lalli and Casey (1996) discovered decreases in sustained destructive behaviors when students were presented with negative and positive reinforcement. Likewise, Golonka et al. (2000) found that academic engagement was increased when students with behavioral problems were presented with preferred activities (positive reinforcement) and negative reinforcement. ((Mccomas et al. 2002)
The authors of another study published in the Journal of Education and Treatment of Children reviewed the impact of self-monitoring of academic productivity and accuracy of academic performance and on-task behavior of three male students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. (Shimabukuro 1999) Several studies have shown that self-monitoring can decrease negative behavior and increase academic engagement. The article explains that,
Self-monitoring of academic performance is effective in increasing academic productivity (completion and/or rate of completion), accuracy, or use of strategies for students with learning disabilities, attentional difficulties, and behavioral disabilities The effects of self-monitoring of academic performance on-task behavior have also been investigated in several studies. The findings of these studies indicate that self-monitoring of academic performance is likely to result in improved on-task behavior for students with learning disabilities, attentional difficulties, and behavioral disorders." (Shimabukuro 1999)
An additional study published in the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders found that teacher praise could also have a large impact upon the academic engagement of children with emotional and behavioral disorders.
The journal reports that poor academic performance is prevalent in students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The article concedes that these disorders also make it extremely difficult for teachers. The study concluded that there was a positive correlation between teacher praise and academic engage with students that suffered from EBD. (Sutherland 2002)
Token Economy study published in School Psychology Review discusses the impact of a token economy on children with disruptive behavior and emotional disturbance. The article explains that token economy alone can be effective in minimizing adverse behavioral and emotional actions in the classroom. (Musser et al. 2001) However, the study suggests that the use of token economy is even more effective when used in collaboration with other tactics such as mystery motivators and response cost programs. The authors refer to this tactic as multi-component intervention. (Musser et al. 2001) study published in the Journal of Education and treatment of Children explains that the token economies have a significant impact upon students with behavioral disorders. (Metzler et al. 2001) In this particular study a middle school implemented an Effective Behavior Support program which encouraged school staff to instruct students on appropriate social behavior, increase positive reinforcement for positive behavior and give mild consequences for rule violation. (Metzler et al. 2001) The school used a token economy system to encourage students to behave appropriately. The school presented the students with tiger tickets which were provided to students as rewards for positive behaviors. This system was effective in minimizing the behavioral problems that some students were displaying. Students could turn the tickets in to receive prizes, which usually came in the form of snacks. (Metzler et al. 2001)
Fogt and Piripavel (2002) discuss the impact of a token economy at a school that serves students with emotional and behavioral disorders. The authors explain that this particular school uses restraints and exclusion to deal with children that have emotional and behavioral disorders. The Centennial school is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and provides an education for 76 students. The study sought to uncover alternative ways to change student behavior. There were three goals of the study which included; (1) the creation of engaging and stimulating curriculum; (2) creation of safe and civil learning environment; and (3) to collaborate with parents in their child's education. (Fogt and Piripavel 2002)
The Take Five Program incorporates the use of token economy as a part of its reinforcement plan. Students are taught the behaviors during the first couple of days at school through role-playing / skits and are visibly reinforced by staff with the use of Take Five Tickets. The tickets are like spending-money, can be used to purchase items at the school store, and can be placed in weekly and surprise raffles. The Take Five Program for elementary and middle school students differs slightly from that of the secondary population. The slogan for elementary and middle school students is "Take Five, Take Control." For the secondary level students, the slogan is "Take Five, Keep the Power" (Fogt and Piripavel 2002)
Another study published in the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral disorders reported on the positive outcomes that resulted from the use of a prevention program which served children with behavioral and emotional disturbance and children at risk for emotional disturbance in urban elementary schools. (Kamps 2000) This particular study utilized classroom management systems which included a token economy. Students at the schools earned tickets, points, and other positive reinforcements for behaviors that were appropriate and on-task. (Kamps 2000) The results of the study demonstrated that the token system along with other positive reinforcements aided in minimizing negative behaviors and increasing academic engagement. (Kamps 2000) study published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions describes a study that examined the impact of a functional assessment-based self-management strategy on the negative behavior of a seventh-grade student who has been diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders. (Smith and Sugai 2000) In this particular case, the student was presented with a self-management strategy that included self-instruction on controlling his temper, diminishing assignments and appropriate hand raising, and self-recruitment of adult attention. (Smith and Sugai 2000)
The strategy also contained a token economy in which the student was allowed to attend general education classes once he successfully advancement in the self-contained classroom's token economy system. Before the study was initiated a token economy system and counseling sessions were utilized to improve the social skills of…