Abstract This paper explores the effect of using a Web 0 service to help curb the behavior in an elementary classroom setting. Students would follow sets of criteria set by the teacher in order to be rewarded with points, which could be redeemed for prizes.


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NameAbstract This paper explores the effect of using a Web 0 service to help curb the behavior in an elementary classroom setting. Students would follow sets of criteria set by the teacher in order to be rewarded with points, which could be redeemed for prizes.
A typeAbstract



Running head: THE EFFECTS OF USING TECHNOLOGY



The Effects of Using Technology to Modify Behavior
Adan Andres Chavez
Lamar University


Abstract
This paper explores the effect of using a Web 2.0 service to help curb the behavior in an elementary classroom setting. Students would follow sets of criteria set by the teacher in order to be rewarded with points, which could be redeemed for prizes. Students not on task would have points deducted, which resulted in no prize points earned and a possible conduct grade deduction. While the research on this specific type of experiment may be limited, the concept of positive reinforcement has been around for quite some time. This experiment shows that behavior modification is possible when consistently using a program that reinforces positive behavior.

Keywords: behavior, modification, reinforcement, technology

The Effects of Using Technology to Modify Behavior
Sheldon ISD is located in the northeastern part of Houston, Texas and is growing at a tremendous rate. Currently, we have ten campuses, in which the past four years, our district has added two elementary schools and will be opening an early college high school this upcoming school year. As of 2012, we have a student enrolment of 7148 and is only expected to grow due to more subdivisions and apartment complexes being built around the community. Since our district is located in an area that is lower in terms of socioeconomics, we are a Title 1 school in which 81% of our district is considered to be economically disadvantaged. (Statistics courtesy of Sheldon ISD.) This past year, our district had opened up a brand new campus in which I was selected to be the Technology Teacher. What was interesting was the fact that this school was opening during the middle of the State of Texas Budget Crisis of 2011 where funding to public education was getting cut. To staff that campus without having to hire additional staff, a few teachers from all campuses in the district were selected to staff the school. While most teachers were ready for the challenge of opening a new campus, we all knew this campus was in a part of our community that had very rough student population. We had also heard that we would be the campus that would be enrolling these students. One of the biggest challenges going to a new campus would be the fact that about 75% of the teachers going to this campus were coming from schools that had fewer discipline problems. This statistic includes myself where it would only be my second year in public education.

Immediately, one of the biggest problems that I encountered when the school year started was in fact student behavior. Keep in mind; this is an elementary school where grades first through fifth were being taught. It seemed as if week more and more students were getting sent to the office for various things such as fights, student conflict, and defying the class boundaries that were set by the classroom teacher. Having issues like these greatly impacted student learning and performance so much, parents started removing their children from the school and enrolling them in other schools. From the teacher’s point of view, issues like student discipline seemed like a big problem. The option of In School Suspension was always available for teachers, but that would not do any good since the student would be missing instruction time if out of the classroom. Parent contact was always encouraged, but from my point of view, there is only so many times you can call a student’s parents until they just become immune to how the student is acting in class. Upon talking to teachers about what concerned them the most, many of them had agreed that student behavior was near the top. From personal experience, the grade level that had the hardest problem with students was our fifth grade. Our fifth grade was composed of one ESL class and three regular classrooms. Classes rotated three times a day (Science, Math, English/Language Arts). While this may seem like a typical fifth grade class, due to a scheduling conflict, our fifth grade English / Language Arts teacher had roughly thirty to thirty five students in his classroom, which was perfectly acceptable due to the fact that there is no limit on how many students can be placed in a classroom grades fifth and higher.

As that teacher and I started talking, I noticed that he was interested in implementing technology in the classroom to make his class run smoother. I had let him use items such as a Mobi Interactive Tablet or an iPad, but never really gave any thought on how these devices may be used to improve the efficiency of student behavior. I was eager to find out if there were any Web 2.0 tools that could help him better modify the behavior of his E/LA classes, especially those students who were most challenging.

One day out of the blue, our campus Read 180 teacher had approached me telling me about a site that he had found online that he and his students were liked. This website kept a class roster where it was accessible to the teacher at anytime. He explained how that he could list criteria that he wanted his students to do. For instance, raising your hand when wanting to speak. Teachers could also list negative behaviors such as talking without permission. When a student was to do a positive criterion, the teacher would award that student with a point. When a student did something that he or she was not supposed to do, then the teacher would take away a point. The interesting thing was the fact that when he gave or took away a point, the website would make a sound over the classroom audio enhancement system which alerted students that the teacher was actively using the site. I thought to myself, “How could we implement this website in the fifth grade teacher’s classroom? Upon further looking into the difficulty of implementing this process would be, I realized that we had already had all of the components necessary to conduct the experiment. Upon talking to the fifth grade teacher, we concluded that by running this experiment, it might have the potential of impacting how students would behave in the classroom. I decided to conduct my action research based on studying if a technology integrated behavior based modification program would have any effect on overall student behavior.

Before moving on to exactly how the experiment was conducted, there are a few terms that should be clarified so that the reader can better understand what is being discussed in the action research paper. The first term is a “Web 2.0 tool.” A Web 2.0 tool is simply “…a next generation technology that make it easier to create online applications… They are highly social, encouraging users to manipulate and interact with content in new ways” (Wolcott, 2007). The second item that should be clarified is the term “tablet.” For the sake of the experiment, the term “iPad” and tablet are referring to the same device.

Literature Review

It is no surprise that in today’s society, public schools are getting more challenging to work in. While your average classroom teacher is not only responsible for completing their curriculum, but also meeting the demands of how a student learns. To add to this, today’s teacher also has to worry about students with issues such as opposition defiance and conduct disorders (Goldstein, 1995). Student behaviors such as out-of-seat and talking-out behaviors have been around for decades to the point where teachers can mentally label students as “problem children” (Barrish, Saunders and Wolf 1969). Fortunately we live in the 21st century where the cutting edge of technology is available at our fingertips. In the most recent years there has been a technology explosion in terms of integrating technology into our schools. A principal in Chicago quotes, “…we aren’t going to give up on pen and paper, but we recognize more important than ever to integrate technology” (Osborn, 2012). What is even more fascinating are the people creating the technologies that we as educators are using everyday in our classrooms. For my action research project, the free, Web 2.0 resource that my project was centralized around was called ClassDojo (http://www.classdojo.com) in which the employees of this startup were very concerned how they could use technology to help better shape the environment of the classroom. Sam Chaudhary, founder of Classdojo states, “The start up isn’t just interested in “gamifying” good behavior. It wants to foster intrinsic, just not extrinsic motivation in education” (Watters, 2011). What the reader must understand is the fact that no matter how technological advanced we get in our schools, the core principles of classic conditioning will remain the same. If an animal or human knows something good is going to happen in response to a stimulus, then we as educators have the opportunity to wield this concept into shaping how our students are to behave in our classroom.

Action Research Design

For this experiment, I worked together with my English / Language Arts teacher to see if this project would make any difference in the way students behaved in the classroom. As mentioned earlier, he had two classes (morning and afternoon) with about thirty to thirty five students in each class. Unforninately, since the teacher was only allowed to give conduct grades to his own homeroom, I used his homeroom of twenty three students as my sample size. The experiment’s goal was not to compare the two groups to each other, or even any students against each other, but to see if there was an overall effect on the student’s own conduct grade. I did offer this same experiment to other teachers who had seemed interested at the concept of it, but once they found out that they would have to be consistent with it, they had lost interest.

To give the reader an understanding of exactly how the teacher used the website in class, I will first explain how the website was designed to be used. The website that the experiment was centered around is called ClassDojo (http://www.classdojo.com). Once the teacher creates an account, they can create lists of their students and can access that list anywhere there is an Internet connection. Once these lists are created, the teachers can create various criteria that he or she wants the students either do or not to do. For instance, a few examples of criteria that may be positive are: raising your hand to go to the restroom, being on task, or asking for permission. Negative criteria could be considered as: getting out of your chair without permission, talking without permission, or being off task. When a student was to obey or disobey, the teacher would click on the selected area and a point would be either given or taken away from the student, depending on what was done. When the teacher would click on a positive or negative, the website would make a noise indicating that the teacher was using the site and that points were being issued or removed.

For my experiment, I used the first of four nine-weeks grading periods as a baseline. During this first nine weeks, there were no rewards or consequences for positive or negative behavior. There was no data recorded on the Classdojo website; however, the only data that was recorded was the Conduct grade on the student’s report card which was key to the overall results of the experiment. The second and third nine-weeks were the areas that the experiment was conducted in. To begin, the teacher and I had set up various positive and negative actions that would results in points given to students. Positive actions included: participation, helping other students, creativity, great insight, hard work, presentation, and homework. Negative actions included: classroom disruption, not following directions, no homework, disrespect, interrupting, and being out of your chair. Students were told exactly how to earn points, but were also informed that negative actions would result in losing points as well. At the end of the period, students would be able to view how many points they had earned for the day. Throughout the course of these two nine-weeks, the teacher was given an iPad so that he would not have to be stationed at his computer to award the points to students. By doing this, the teacher could have the website up on his computer, and award points via the iPad anywhere in the school. When he would return to his computer at the end of the day, the points from the computer, matched what had been done on the iPad. At the end of the second and third nine-weeks, the teacher would clear out the student records and points from Classdojo and start over. This was done to match how our campus “reset” their grades after each nine weeks.

Findings

First 9 Weeks (Baseline)

Grade Given to Student

Number of Students Receiving Grade

Excellent

16

Satisfactory

7

Needs Improvement

0

Unsatisfactory

0



Second 9 Weeks

Grade Given to Student

Number of Students Receiving Grade

Excellent

15

Satisfactory

8

Needs Improvement

0

Unsatisfactory

0




Third 9 Weeks

Grade Given to Student

Number of Students Receiving Grade

Excellent

15

Satisfactory

8

Needs Improvement

0

Unsatisfactory

0




Fourth 9 Weeks *

Grade Given to Student

Number of Students Receiving Grade

Excellent

15

Satisfactory

7

Needs Improvement

0

Unsatisfactory

1




  • No differences in grade distribution between the second nine weeks and third nine weeks.

  • From third nine weeks to fourth nine weeks, the number of students receiving “Satisfactory” decreased, while the number of students receiving “Unsatisfactory” had increased.


*Denotes that classes were split up most of the quarter due to STAAR Science Blitzes.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in how my results turned out. Going into the experiment, and after Skyping with a developer from Classdojo, I was confident that the data would show a positive change in behavior overtime. What I do find interesting though, are things the data does not show. For instance, as mentioned earlier, I was only recording the grades of the students that were apart of the teacher’s homeroom. Although twenty-three students were observed, there were roughly thirty-five students per classroom. Unfortunately since the homeroom teachers of the rest of the students were not a part of this experiment, it would have been unfair for that teacher to give them a conduct grade based on software they were not using. Another area in which I was pleased was in how impressed the homeroom teacher was in the behavior of his students during the time the experiment was run. Although the data does not show it, the teacher had told me that he noticed many students who normally caused trouble, improve throughout the duration of the experiment being run. I personally think this was due to the fact that students would earn rewards once they received so many points. I am assuming that when the prizes were being awarded, the students with few points took a mental note of this and wanted to strive to earn points and prizes.

Reflecting back on my experiment, I would do quite a few things differently. First, I would make sure that each teacher in a particular grade level was a part of this program. It is very hard to see the potential of what “could be” if not everyone is on board. Having an entire grade level on a program like this would not be that difficult in terms of resources (on our campus), instead the most challenging part would be for all the teachers to remain consistent in using this software. I would advise any teacher wanting to use this website to “play” around on it first so that they can be comfortable training teachers in using it. The last thing I would suggest is to explore other behavior reinforcement sites like these. For instance, other teachers on my campus used sites in which good behavior was rewarded. In their particular case, students would be able to log into a website and redeem prizes of their choice. I feel as if we as educators give differentiate the way we reward students, students in return will feel as if the way they behave matters and will strive to do whatever it takes to be rewarded.

References

Barrish, H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. (1969). Good behavior game: effects of individual contingencies for group consequences on disruptive behavior in a classroom. Journal of Applied behavior Analysis, 2(2), 119-124. Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311049/pdf/jaba00080-0043.pdf
Goldstein, S., & Brooks, R. B. (2007). Understanding and managing children's classroom behavior: creating sustainable, resilient classrooms (2nd ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons.
Osborne, C. (n.d.). Bring your own device scheme launches at school | ZDNet . Technology News, Analysis, Comments and Product Reviews for IT Professionals | ZDNet. Retrieved July 1, 2012, from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/bring-your-own-device-scheme-launches-at-school/15919
Watters, A. (n.d.). Can Mobile Phones Help Teachers Manage Classroom Behavior? | MindShift. Mind/Shift How We Will Learn. Retrieved July 1, 2012, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/09/can-mobile-phones-help-teachers-manage-classroom-behavior/

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