Term Paper: Academic Engagement

Pages: 10 (3516 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] (Smith and Sugai 2000) The improvement of social skills is a key component in creating an educational environment that is conducive with learning.

The study explains that prior to the implementation of the strategy the student was reprimanded a total of fifteen times in during a four-month period. (Smith and Sugai 2000) After the implementation of the strategy the study found that "a behavior support plan based on functional assessment data and use of self-management strategies was effective in increasing on-task behavior, while substantially reducing certain "other off-task" behaviors of a seventh-grade student with EBD." (Smith and Sugai 2000)

The Journal of Remedial and Special Education reports that many special education teachers are not equipped to use alternative treatments, such as token economies to modify behavior. (Snider 2003) The study revealed that only 42% of teachers with students with ADHD had attempted to implement token economies in the classroom. (Snider 2003) The study found that many of these teachers were more likely to treat behavioral disorders through medication and restraint.

Edwards et al. (2002) examines the effects of idiosyncratic variables on functional analysis outcomes. The functional analysis in this study was conducted in a public school with a student diagnosed as ADHD. The initial functional analysis designated high levels of target behavior in both demand and attention conditions. (Edwards et al. 2002) In this particular study students were familiar with the use of a token economy but they were asked to modify the existing system. The article explains,

The token economy was altered, asking all students to create a list of items, events, and activities that they would be willing to work to earn, which were then used as back-up reinforcers for tokens. Second, the behavior analyst employed modeling, prompting, and practice with feedback to train the teacher to deliver tokens immediately and contingently and to pair her delivery with praise and other forms of attention (e.g., going to Ben's desk and engaging in conversation with him; announcing to the entire class the specific behavior for which Ben had earned that token). Whereas, previously tokens were traded in once/month, the final change to this economy was to allow token exchange at the end of each school day. This frequent exchange schedule was gradually faded from daily to weekly over the intervention period. (Interestingly, for Ben the consequences most often selected during token trade-in included time in one-to-one uninterrupted conversation with either the school principal or the classroom teacher, or the opportunity to stand before the class and present material from a recent assignment.)" (Edwards 2002)


The purpose of this discussion is to explore Academic Engagement and the effects of a token economy on students with emotional and behavioral disorders. We determined that academic engagement involved the combination of classroom activities which include: asking and answering questions participation in tasks, writing, reading, and discussing academics. We found that academic engagement is essential to the academic success of any student.

We also found that successful academic engagement is dependent upon academic enablers. These enablers influence the manner in which students with and without EBD respond to their academic environment.

Our discussion then focused on the use of reading and writing to improve academic engagement. Additionally we found that peer relationships had an impact upon classroom behavior. Studies revealed that when peer groups revered academic performance students were more likely to perform well.

Our investigation also found that integrating academic and non-academic instruction for students with emotional/Behavioral disorders can improve academic engagement. We found that there are instructional variables that add to a positive educational climate and that also serve as setting events for individual instructional programs. Our investigation concluded that teachers face some specific challenge when handling students with EBD.

Our investigation also revealed that students with EBD can benefit greatly from positive and negative reinforcement. Our investigation contends that positive and negative reinforcement can increase academic engagement and decrease negative behaviors. Additionally, we found that self-monitoring and teacher praise can also influence academic engagement amongst those with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Our discussion then focused on the impact of token economy on those with emotional and behavioral disorders. We found that token economy alone can be effective in minimizing adverse behavioral and emotional actions in the classroom. We also discovered 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.

In one instance, we found that a middle school had 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. Our investigation found that the school used a token economy system to encourage students to behave appropriately. In this case the school presented the students with tiger tickets which were provided to students as rewards for positive behaviors. We found that this token economy was effective in minimizing the behavioral problems that some students were displaying.

We also reviewed the impact of a token economy at a school that uses restraints and exclusion to deal with children that have emotional and behavioral disorders. In this case we found that teachers were able to minimize the use of restraints and exclusions through a token economy. In this case the students could use the tickets they received as spending money to purchase snacks. This type of token system was prevalent throughout the studies that we reviewed.

One of the studies examined the effects of idiosyncratic variables on functional analysis outcome with a student diagnosed as ADHD. In this particular case students were asked to reform the existing token system and create rewards that they wanted to earn through appropriate behavior. We found that in each case token economy was effective in curbing negative student reactions that occurred as a result of emotional and behavioral disorders. We were able to determine that the use of token economy can prove to be an effective alternative to restraints, exclusion and other means of discipline. We also found that token economies have the ability to improve academic engagement.

Finally we found that many special education teachers do not use a token economy to control negative behavior. Our investigation revealed that only 42% of teachers with students with ADHD had attempted to implement token economies in the classroom. Additionally we found that many of these teachers were more likely to treat behavioral disorders through medication and restraint.



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