What can Ms. Rollison do to encourage initial compliance to her requests?
Page 4: Choice Making
The academic and social requirements of classrooms can be a challenging environment for students who exhibit elevated levels of problem behavior. When such students are unable to meet the academic and social requirements, inappropriate behavior may result.
High Probability Requests
Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO)
Differential reinforcement of low rates of behavior (DRL)
Differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors (DRI)
Techniques for making the demands of the school environment more learner-friendly can help to decrease inappropriate behavior. One strategy that has shown promise in this area is choice making.
Listen as Kathleen Lane explains choice making in more detail (time: 2:03).
Kathleen Lane, PhD Professor of Special Education University of Kansas
Oftentimes, I think school to a lot of children is just this largely didactic experience where “I come in and somebody with a big desk is telling me what to do all day long.” A lot of kids just want to push back so that “Maybe I would have done that normally, but I don’t want to do it because you just told me I had to do it” kind of a thing. So choice is a way of, again, gaining momentum, getting kids to participate instructionally by allowing them, like it says, an opportunity to choose. Now, the choice is not, “I don’t feel like working today, so I’ll be in, you know, maybe tomorrow.” It’s, “Here are these three assignments that we’ve got to do.” The teacher will give the directions, check for understanding to make sure that everybody has it and say “Now. Go ahead and pick which one you’d like to start with. Would you like to do your partner work first, or would you prefer to do your independent seatwork?” And then you let the kids choose, and then they can go do whatever it is. Sometimes I’ve seen group choice where the teacher allows the class to vote on which one they want to do. The downside of that is that some kids are not going to get their choice, because that’s not what the class decided on. Another method of using choice is the medium, so “I need to write this essay,” but if this child has a fine motor deficit or just simply doesn’t like to write, perhaps for some of those assignments, the child could have a choice of how to do it. So maybe they could use a computer, or you could compromise by saying, “Go ahead and do your first draft with a paper and pencil, and then after I check it and I give you feedback, then you can type in your final draft. So it’s a choice of how to present it. Some kids, similarly, will have huge test anxiety, and they don’t know how to get what they know onto paper, so perhaps they would do better if you allowed them the choice of, “Would you like to do half this test on paper and the other half you can come and just tell me your answers?” So it’s, again, a respectful way of giving the kids a feeling of control and independence, but it doesn’t allow them to escape the instructional task. You can oftentimes get kids to do more of what you need them to do if you give them an option of how it’s going to get done or an option of when it’s going to get done, but not if it’s going to get done.
The purpose of choice making is not to allow students to avoid tasks, but rather to give them more control over their own learning, as opposed to merely complying with teacher-led activities. Research shows that choice making seems to lend itself to independent work activities or to one-on-one instructional situations.
Tameka’s compliance with writing tasks has improved since Ms. Rollison began implementing high-p requests. She now begins the assignment without complaining. However, she works for only a few minutes before stopping and refusing to continue. Because this seems to be related to an independent work activity, Ms. Thibodeaux suggests that choice making might be helpful.
This week, Ms. Rollison’s class will write a book report. Ms. Rollison decides to give Tameka the following choices:
Monday: Develop a story map or a story outline Work with the teacher or independently
Tuesday: Use her story map or outline to write her draft or type her draft on the computer
Wednesday: Edit her draft alone or with a partner
Thursday: Write her final report or type her final report on the computer
Activity: Choice making for Tameka Ms. Thibodeaux’s feedback
You’ve really done a nice job of developing options for Tameka. I like that you’ve given her options on both Monday and Wednesday to either work alone or with you or a partner. That way, if she is experiencing some frustration – like with spelling or punctuation – she can get help. And if it’s just an intimidation factor, that she’s afraid to try, then she knows she’s got some help. You might want to consider giving her a partner or teacher option on Tuesday as well. Writing the draft might be difficult for her, or just intimidating, and knowing she’s got support could help you avoid another work refusal. I would tweak this approach just a little to look something like this:
Develop a story map or a story outline
Work with the teacher or independently
Use her map or outline to write her draft or type her draft on the computer
Work with the teacher or with a partner or independently
Edit her draft alone or with a partner
Write her final report or type her final report on the computer