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Research begun in the 1960s provided the impetus for teacher educators to urge classroom teachers to establish classroom rules, deliver high rates of verbal/nonverbal praise, and, whenever possible, to ignore minor student provocations. In that there have been significant advances in the knowledge of what constitutes effective classroom management, a review of past-to-present literature was conducted to determine whether it is time to alter the thinking about one or more of these basic behavioral strategies. The research conducted over the years supports the basic tenets of these strategies, but with some important caveats. Finally, there are several newer strategies that warrant attention.
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Back to Basics: Rules, Praise, Ignoring, and Reprimands Revisited
By: Robert A. Gable, Peggy H. Hester, Marcia L. Rock, and Kimberly G. Hughes
Gable, R. A., Hester, P. P. , Rock, M. L. , & Hughes, K. (2009). Back to Basics: Rules, Praise, Ignoring, and
Reprimands Revisited. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44 (4), 195-205.
Made available courtesy of Sage Publications:
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Sage Publications. This version of the document is not the version of record. Figures and/or pictures
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Research begun in the 1960s provided the impetus for teacher educators to urge classroom teachers to establish
classroom rules, deliver high rates of verbal/nonverbal praise, and, whenever possible, to ignore minor student
provocations. In that there have been significant advances in the knowledge of what constitutes effective
classroom management, a review of past-to-present literature was conducted to determine whether it is time to
alter the thinking about one or more of these basic behavioral strategies. The research conducted over the years
supports the basic tenets of these strategies, but with some important caveats. Finally, there are several newer
strategies that warrant attention.
Keywords: interventions; behavior, classroom; management; behavior
Some 40 years ago, researchers began a series of studies on classroom rules, teacher praise, planned ignoring,
and verbal reprimands. Among the most widely cited studies were those conducted by Zimmerman and
Zimmerman (1962); Becker, Madsen, Arnold, and Thomas (1967); and Madsen, Becker, and Thomas (1968).
The results of these studies have served as the basis for the preparation of generations of classroom teachers
who work with children and adolescents with learning and behavior disabilities. Recent legislation mandates
that school personnel make use of only those strategies for which there is strong empirical support (Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act Amendments, 1997; Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act,
2004; No Child Left Behind, 2002). For that reason, it was time to revisit the classroom use of rules, praise,
ignoring, and reprimands.
A review of the accumulated literature was conducted to determine how past-to-present research might inform
current classroom management practices in general and special education. The review of the literature included
general education, special education, and psychology, from the 1960s to the present. The key search words were
(a) teacher praise and attention, (b) verbal praise, (c) classroom rules and expectations, (d) ignoring, (e)
extinction, (f) inappropriate behavior, (g) reprimands, (h) positive feedback, and (i) recruiting positive attention.
In all, approximately 50 different sources were examined, including empirical studies, literature reviews,
position papers, and textbooks.
In what follows, the relationship among the following classroom practices is discussed: rules, praise, ignoring,
and reprimands. The circumstances under which one or more of these strategies are most likely to have a
positive influence on student behavior were examined. The conditions under which one or more of these
practices may not be effective or may even have a deleterious effect on student behavior is detailed. Changes in
thinking that have occurred over time, including the emergent strategies of contingent instruction and
precorrection are highlighted. Finally, the accumulated literature on rules, praise, ignoring, and reprimands is
summarized, and suggested ways are provided that school personnel might increase the positive effects of these
longstanding class-room management practices.
Classroom Rules
Teacher educators have long advocated that school personnel establish a set of basic rules with which to create a
safe, orderly, and productive classroom. Classroom rules are explicit statements that define behavior
expectations and that help to establish a predictable teaching and learning environment (Grossman, 2004; Kerr
& Nelson, 2006; Madsen et al., 1968). Classroom rules can be put in one of two general categories: organization
rules and learning rules (Performance Learning Systems, 2007). The former spell out behavioral boundaries for
students, offer predictability, and ensure a safe and disciplined classroom environment (Van Acker, 2007);
whereas, the latter support students’ success in learning academic content. Both sets of rules encourage students
to accept increased responsibility for their own behavior.
Effective Use of Rules
Gone are the long lists of classroom rules that enumerate an inordinate number of behaviors teacher deem
unacceptable (eg, no running, no talking, no wearing hats, no leaving your seat). Today, there is general
agreement that teachers should have relatively few classroom rules (ie, fourfive rules), stated positively and
age-appropriately (eg, keep hands and feet to yourself, listen quietly while others are talking, raise your hand to
speak, and follow directions the first time; Burden, 2006; Grossman, 2004; Kerr & Nelson, 2006; Maag, 2004;
Scheuermann & Hall, 2008 ). In addition, there is general consensus that class-room rules should be necessary,
reasonable, easy to understand, and enforceable (Burden, 2006; Grossman, 2004; Kerr & Nelson, 2006). While
some authors assert that classroom rules should be differentiated according to the specific situation (Kerr &
Nelson, 2006; Maag, 2004), others argue that rules should be far-reaching enough to cover multiple classroom
situations and more general than those regulations that address routine classroom activities (Smith & Rivera,
1993). In either case, students should be taught, situationally and systematically, to comply with classroom
rules. Paine, Radicchi, Rosellini, Deutchman, and Darch (1983) suggested that instruction take place daily and
that it be brief (ie, 35 min). Teacher modeling is a proven effective way to introduce multiple examples and
nonexamples and affords the teacher an opportunity to clarify the qualities that distinguish accept-able and
unacceptable behavior. It also is essential that teachers explain to their students the positive consequences for
rule-following and the negative consequences for rule-violating behavior (Burden, 2006; Kerr & Nelson, 2006).
Some authorities encourage teachers to solicit student input when developing the rules and get student
commitment to follow them (e.g., signing a written agreement; Burden, 2006; Maag, 2004). For example, the
teacher might highlight for the class (e.g., verbally ―walk through‖ the day) the major activities and solicit from
students their thoughts about what acceptable or appropriate behavior would look and sound like. The teacher
might draw three columns on the board; the first column would contain the major activities, the second, desired
behavior, and the third column, a checkmark if a rule should apply. Experience has shown that students
sometimes suggest consequences that are overly harsh and/or rules that are not enforceable. The teacher may
need to guide discussion in a way that (a) minimizes the number of rules and (b) the magnitude of the
consequences for infractions. Once the teacher has taught students the rules and checked for understanding, it is
useful to periodically introduce booster training sessions in which rules are reviewed and students practice
acceptable behavior. Teachers should self-monitor the fidelity with which they enforce classroom rules by
keeping a simple running record of their actions.
Gaining Cooperation and Enforcing Rules
Experience suggests that student compliance and disruptive classroom behavior co-vary inversely. That is,
increased compliance usually leads to a reduction in the incidence of problem behavior (Parrish, 1986). Some
authorities suggest that teacher requests for rule compliance should be specific, delivered within 3 feet of the
student, and only after establishing eye contact (Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993; Van Hourten, Nau, MacKenzie-
Keating, Sameoto, & Colavecchia, 1982). Others contend that requests for eye contact should be reserved for
teacher delivery of positive reinforcement. However, given an increasingly diverse student population and
growing recognition of disparate cultural norms, there is good reason to question the present-day relevance of
past practices (Cartledge & Loe, 2001; Gable, Hendrickson, Tonelson, & Van Acker, 2002).
Notwithstanding conventional wisdom, simply establishing a set of classroom rules does not guarantee positive
outcomes. For example, teacher failure to impose some kind of consequences for every violation renders rules
ineffective (Madsen et al., 1968). Students are more likely to follow classroom rules if they believe that teachers
are cognizant of compliant versus noncompliant behavior (Kounin, 1970). Uncertainty regarding teacher
expectations can unwittingly cause students to engage in unacceptable behavior (Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey,
1999). Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that inconsistent enforcement of classroom rules is a major
source of teacher/pupil conflict. Therefore, to reduce the probability of future misbehavior, teachers should
monitor students’ rule-abiding behavior and be prepared to intervene to address repeated violations (Grossman,
Most teachers can attest to the fact that some students repeatedly violate classroom rules. For these students,
researchers suggest that teachers introduce strategies designed with a two-fold purpose: (a) to decrease the
likely future occurrence of the behavior and (b) to increase the probability that a more acceptable behavior will
occur. This can be accomplished in various ways. For example, teachers can remove social or environmental
events that trigger behavior problems (eg, student placement close to an antagonistic classmate or in a high
traffic area of the classroom) and introduce events that signal students to engage in more appropriate behavior
(eg, nonverbal teacher cues to prompt rule-following behavior). It is important for school personnel to adhere to
the fair-pair rule (White & Haring, 1980) and introduce one strategy to decrease problem behavior and another
strategy to teach an appropriate substitute for it.
According to Neff and colleagues, teachers who include do and don’t requests are able to increase substantially
the rate at which students comply with class-room rules (Neff, Shafer, Egel, Cataldo, & Parrish, 1983). Rhode,
Jensen, and Reavis (1992) suggested the use of precision requests to increase student compliance. Precision
requests consist of (a) the student’s name, (b) a precise description of the required behavior, (c) use of a polite
and unemotional tone, and (d) a wait time of at least 5 seconds for the student to comply (eg, ―Joanna, stop
please—it is disrespectful to pull down artwork displayed on the wall.‖ ―Be responsible by keeping your hands
and feet to yourself. Do it now, please.‖).
Although not all authorities encourage teachers to identify the student’s motivation to misbehave (Grossman,
2004; Lane, Gresham, & O’Shaughnessy, 2002), it probably is important to do so for any student who is a
chronic rule violator (i.e., three or more times). Among the most common violations is the failure to comply
with a teacher request (Skiba, Peterson, & Williams, 1997). The reason for a student’s failure to comply may be
a function of the following: (a) a skill deficit (the student does not possess the skill); (b) performance deficit
(the student possesses the skill but sees no reason to engage in it); or, (c) a self- control performance deficit (the
student possesses the skill but is unable to deal with competing forcesanger, frustration, fatigue; e.g.,
Gresham, Van, & Cook, 2006; Van Acker, 2007). Each of these sources of noncompliant behavior necessitates
a different intervention. Given the increasingly diverse student population and the relatively complex nature of
rules and expectations it is not surprising that many teachers find it difficult to make good use of classroom
The Overlapping Relationship Between Rules, Expectations, and Behavioral Routines
Today, there is growing sentiment that rules are largely compliance-driven in that they do not serve a skill-
building function. Accordingly, authorities encourage teachers to put emphasis on classroom expectations and
use rules as supporting guidelines that teach students what exactly constitutes appropriate behavior. Table 1
illustrates how specific rules are used to support broader behavioral expectations. Rather than serving a purely
regulatory function, expectations are a way to define appropriate classroom behavior (Bear, 2005) and to build
cohesion among students (Henley, 2006). In that teacher expectations will vary (eg, participation in a
cooperative learning activity versus transition from one classroom to another), each set of expectations should
be taught separately to students, and later be publicly posted and reviewed on a regular basis.
Behavioral routines or classroom procedures provide the daily infrastructure that support rules and expectations,
while minimizing student confusion and teacher disorganization (Burden, 2006; Henley, 2006). Peterson (1992)
maintained that a ―routine implements an action designed to achieve a specific outcome as efficiently as
possible‖ (p. 62). Among the most common behavioral routines are those that relate to (a) student use of the
restroom, (b) conduct at assemblies, (c) classroom transitions, and (d) going to the cafeteria. Teachers have used
both graphic organizers and scaffolding strategies to clarify for students expected behavior and to help establish
behavioral routines (Bear, 2005; Rock, 2004). Figure 1 contains an example of a graphic organizer to teach
students expected procedures when walking in the hallway. As can be seen, the graphic organizer contains a
mnemonic to increase student understanding and retention. Last, there may be some classroom activities that are
relatively low intensity and can be addressed by means of cues and verbal/nonverbal teacher prompts. Low
frequency or low intensity behavior such as an occasional comment to a classmate probably does not warrant
anything more than a verbal or nonverbal prompt. In all, classroom rules, expectations, and behavioral routines
afford teachers an opportunity to manage predictable classroom behavior and to align the complexity of the
management strategy to the importance of the particular behavior. Mirroring previous practices, schools have
begun to explicitly teach students what is expected of them not only in the classroom, but also on a schoolwide
basis and to acknowledge appropriate behavior in ways that are valued by the students (Bullock & Gable, 2003;
Sugai & Lewis, 1999).
Teacher Use of Classroom Praise
The second of the overlapping strategies is praise. Researchers have long been interested in teacher use of
classroom praise and its influence on both academic and nonacademic behavior (Gable, Hendrickson, Young,
Shores, & Stowitscek, 1983; Gunter & Denny, 1998; Lampi, Fenty, & Beaunae, 2005; Sutherland & Wehby,
2001). Praise consists of verbal or written statements that acknowledge a desired student behavior and is
manifested in several different ways. While not without its critics (Larrivee, 2002), use of contingent praise has
strong empirical support (Strain & Joseph, 2004).
Effective Use of Praise
Praise statements usually draw attention to a correct answer (e.g., ―Yes, 20 + 20 = 40‖) or include feedback on
student behavior, such as ―great job ... super reading‖ (Gunter & Reed, 1996). However, behavior-specific,
contingent feedback in which the teacher describes precisely the behavior usually is more effective (Feldman,
2003; Weinstein, 2003). Although not common practice (Kalis, Vannest, & Parker, 2007), the teacher might
say, ―I really like the way Johnny is standing quietly in line.‖ Table 2 offers additional examples of effective
teacher praise statements. Table 3 illustrates a scaffolding strategy for teacher praise.
Among myriad reasons for teachers to use praise is the fact that it can promote a more positive relationship
between teacher and student, and in turn, a more supportive learning environment (Shores et al., 1993; Walker
et al., 1999). Researchers also have shown that the power of praise increases when it is delivered in close
physical proximity to the student and in a manner acceptable to the student (e.g., verbal or nonverbal, public or
private; Burnett, 2001; Feldman, 2003; Lampi et al., 2005). Last, while tangible rewards should be used
sparingly (Bear, 2005), for students with a history of gaining attention by misbehaving, it may be necessary to
pair verbal praise with more tangible reinforcement (Piazza, Bowman, Contrucci, Delia, Adelinis, & Gold,
1999; Walker et al., 1999).
Brophy (1981) argued that praise is not always synonymous with positive reinforcement. He asserted that its
function is determined by the relationship between verbal and nonverbal aspects of teacher behavior, the context
in which the interaction occurs and, most importantly, the actual effect it has on pupil behavior. Although not
widely researched, there also may be age- and gender- related dimensions of teacher praise. For example, Miller
and Hom (1997) reported that older students view classmates who receive praise (and little negative feedback)
as less capable, which is opposite the opinion held by younger children. Burnett (200 1) suggested that younger
children would rather receive ability feedback and that female students prefer attention for effort more than
male students do. Last, in some cases, teacher classroom praise may be counterproductive when a student does
not wish to please the teacher (Feldman, 2003).
The classroom behavior problems of some students are the result of long-standing coercive interactions (eg,
student complies with teacher request simply to terminate a highly aversive exchange, student confronts teacher
and the teacher backs-off), which can make positive interventions, including the use of praise, less effective
(Walker et al., 1999). It also is important to recognize that, for some students, teacher attention even in the form
of disapproval is better than no attention at all (Alberto & Troutman, 2006; Madsen et al., 1968). One proactive
option is to increase a student’s opportunity to respond and respond correctly (at least 75%), which results in
higher rates of academic engagement and, in turn, an increased opportunity for teachers to acknowledge
successful student performance (Sutherland, Wehby, & Yoder, 2002). Another significant by-product of this
approach is the increased probability that teachers will come to view students more positively and focus less on
their negative behavior (Sutherland et al., in press). Strategies that teachers can use to increase the use of praise
include: peer coaching, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation (Kalis et al., 2007). Peer coaching usually consists
of systematic classroom observation (ie, use of tally sheet) by another teacher and a subsequent sharing of
information. The observer may record the number of opportunities that students have to respond and, in turn,
receive positive feedback. Teachers can use a hand-held counter or simply transfer a penny from one pocket to
another for each praise statement as a way to monitor their verbal behavior (Kalis et al., 2007). Finally, Gunter
and Reed (1996) developed a protocol that teachers can use to conduct a functional assessment of their teaching
behavior. Teachers videotaped instruction and then self-evaluated various discrete behaviors, including praise.
Gunter and Reed reported that teachers could reliably self-evaluate their instruction and make adjustments that
led to positive changes in teaching behavior.
Student Recruitment of Teacher Praise
Another way to increase the rate of teacher praise is to teach students how to recruit it. Classroom researchers
have shown that students can be taught ways to gain teacher attention and praise that can trigger inactive teacher
―contingencies of reinforcement‖ (Alber & Heward, 2000). That is, student recruitment efforts (e.g., ―See, I
completed the assignment‖) can motivate teachers to praise student behavior. Likewise, students have long been
taught to engage in various kinds of teacher pleasing behavior to evoke a more positive teacher response (e.g.,
establish and maintain eye contact, nod occasionally) (Graubard, Rosenberg, & Miller, 1965).
In all, use of classroom praise is a multidirectional strategy. Teachers can deliver contingent praise, and students
can be taught to solicit it (Alber & Heward, 2000). Numerous studies highlight the positive influence of
contingent praise and the fact that praise usually works best in combination with other strategies, including
increased student opportunities to respond correctly (Sutherland et al., 2002) as well as teacher physical
proximity (Gunter, Shores, Jack, Rasmussen, & Flowers, 1995; Shores et al., 1993). Most teachers express a
preference for strategies that do not demand a great deal of time (Elliott, Witt, Galvin, & Peterson, 1984; Witt,
1986)praise is just that. Contingent praise requires virtually no teacher preparation and can be applied
effectively to a wide range of academic and nonacademic behavior.
Given the documented positive effects of teacher praise, it is puzzling why so many teachers make little use of it
(Gable et al., 1983; Gunter & Denny, 1998; Shores et al., 1993; Sutherland & Wehby, 200 1; Sutherland et al.,
2002). There are several possible explanations. First, in both the popular press and the professional literature,
critics have raised questions about the legitimacy of classroom praise (Larrivee, 2002). Second, the climate of
the workplace does not always support the use of evidence-based practices such as teacher praise (Gable, 2004).
Finally, some teachers may not feel comfortable routinely acknowledging positive pupil behavior. Even so,
there is absolutely no reason to believe that praise is either controlling or has a detrimental effect on children
(Kratochwill & Stoiber, 2000). In fact, there is a compelling body of empirical evidence regarding its positive
impact on both academic and nonacademic behavior (Lampi et al., 2005; Shores et al., 1993; Sutherland et al.,
2002; Walker et al., 1999).
Teacher Use of Planned Ignoring
The third management strategy is planned ignoring. There are various ways teachers can deal with class-room
misbehavior, including ignoring inappropriate student behavior. Planned ignoring is a form of extinction
designed to weaken, decrease, or eliminate a behavior (Sheuermann & Hall, 2008). For example, when the
teacher ignores call-outs (i.e., does not attend to verbal misbehavior), the intent is to signal to the student that
inappropriate behavior will not lead to desired outcomes (Alberto & Troutman, 2006).
Effective Use of Planned Ignoring
In introducing an extinction strategy, Sheuermann and Hall (2008) suggested that teachers explain to students
that when a target behavior occurs there will be no teacher response. The underlying assumption is that by
withholding reinforcement, the student will cease to engage in the target behavior. In some instances, that is
what happens. However, in other cases, inappropriate student behavior is positively reinforced by classroom
peers (e.g., classmates encourage a peer to call out or otherwise disrupt instruction), the behavior itself is
reinforcing to the student (e.g., student gets pleasure and satisfaction from exercising control over a situation),
or the behavior is escape-motivated (e.g., aversive teacher-pupil interactions; Burnhill, 2005). In these
instances, ignoring student behavior is likely to have little or no appreciable effect. Interventions that focus on
the source of the inappropriate behavior will be more effective (e.g., teacher behavior, curricular demands/
expectations; Burnhill, 2005).
Notwithstanding its strong theoretical underpinnings, planned ignoring can be a difficult strategy to implement
consistently. In addition, ignoring the student can exacerbate the problem by increasing the frequency or
magnitude of inappropriate student behavior (Madsen et el., 1968). Past research suggests that praising
appropriate behavior and ignoring inappropriate behavior sometimes increases the disruptive behavior of certain
students (O’Leary, Becker, Evans, & Saudargas, 1969). Understandably, it might be disconcerting to the teacher
to witness an increase rather than decrease in the problem behavior. Two points are worth emphasizing. First, an
increase in problem behavior concomitant to the teacher beginning to ignore a particular behavior may reflect
the fact that teacher attention is the motivation behind the behavior and the student simply is trying harder to
illicit it. The second point is that the increase usually is temporary especially if the teacher reinforces alternative
or incompatible student behavior. Finally, lapses in teacher ignoring of inappropriate behavior can serve as
intermittent reinforcement that makes it more resistant to extinction (Witt, VanDerHeyden, & Gilbertson,
The accumulated research on planned ignoring is some-what equivocal. There are instances in which planned
ignoring will produce positive changes in pupil behavior. However, inappropriate student behavior often serves
multiple functions (e.g., attention getting, task avoidance) and there are multiple controlling factors that may
further diminish the impact of ignoring. Today, many experts encourage teachers to focus not only on what the
behavior of the most challenging students looks like (i.e., form), but also to identify the reason(s) the students
engage in the behavior (i.e., function) and to use that knowledge to develop a plan of intervention (Lane et al.,
Teacher Use of Nag Statements and Verbal Reprimands
For various reasons, some teachers do not make use of positive strategies such as contingent praise. Instead,
they resort to coercion to deal with inappropriate student behavior, such as threats, nags, and/or reprimands
(Shores et al., 1993; Van Acker, 2007). Teacher threats, nags, or verbal reprimands can have a more immediate
impact on student behavior than praise statements. That is, reprimands (e.g., ―Stop talking—now!‖) can lead to
the cessation of student misbehavior, if only temporarily (Alber & Heward, 2000). Another problem is that
teachers who rely on coercive strategies may unintentionally pay more attention to a student’s misbehavior and
engage in increasingly more coercive interactions, which may reinforce the very behavior they wish to
extinguish (Alberto & Troutman 2006; Madsen et al., 1968; Shores et al., 1993).
There is ample evidence that teacher threats, nags, or reprimands can increase the probability that students will
engage in escape-motivated behavior (e.g., defiant acts, noncompliance with teacher requests; Shores et al.,
1993). Yet another reason to avoid negative teacher responses is that they alienate students, undermine the
integrity of the teacher/pupil relationship, and often exacerbate an already difficult situation. Last, critical
teacher comments are highly correlated with subsequent student verbal or physical aggression (Van Acker,
Grant, & Henry, 1996).
Effective Use of Reprimands
If teachers believe strongly that a mild reprimand is appropriate, researchers maintain that private, quiet
reprimands are more effective than loud reprimands delivered in front of an entire class (O’Leary, Kaufman,
Kass, & Drabman, 1970). Reprimands should be brief as opposed to lengthy (Abramowitz, O’Leary, &
Futtersak, 1988). Furthermore, a reminder regarding the expected behavior should accompany a teacher
reprimand. While some experts advise that teachers maintain a ratio of praise-to-nags of at least of 4:1 or 3:1
(Kalis et al., 2007; Shores et al., 1993), there is growing sup-port for more proactive strategies.
The Shift From Reactive to Proactive Classroom Management
Several authorities urge teachers to resist the temptation to use reprimands and to substitute contingent
instruction, which is one way to communicate to a student what behavior to start rather than point out only the
behavior to stop (Curran, 2006 [IRIS Center]). Contingent instructions are specific teacher directions for
students to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior and to start engaging in a more appropriate alternative
response (Curran, 2006 [IRIS Center]). Connolly, Dowd, Criste, Nelson, and Tobias (1995) described
contingent instruction as a coupling request, by which teachers address both inappropriate (i.e., calling out) and
desired behavior (i.e., raising your hand). In using this strategy, teachers should pause briefly between the initial
request for a student to cease an inappropriate behavior and the subsequent request for the student to engage in
the correct behavior. It is especially important that teachers point out to the student the benefit of engaging in
more acceptable behavior (e.g., remain part of classroom activity, proceed to cafeteria with classmates; Brophy,
In the past, the majority of classroom management strategies focused on consequent or reactive events (Gable,
Bullock, & Evans, 2006). At one time, 90% of teachers’ disciplinary responses consisted of some kind of
negative consequences or punishment (Colvin, Sugai, & Patching, 1993). However, in recent years, attention
has shifted from consequent events to antecedent events and the use of preventative classroom interventions.
One such strategy is precorrection. Precorrection is a proactive strategy that allows teachers to look at possible
antecedent events and analyze the contextual basis for inappropriate student behavior (Crosby, Jolievette, &
Patterson, 2006). For example, Colvin et al. (1993) devised a precorrective strategy to deal with predictable
classroom behavior problems. The focus is on (a) manipulating contextually based classroom antecedents of
inappropriate pupil behavior, (b) establishing an accept-able level of classroom conduct, (c) using behavioral
rehearsal to teach students positive behaviors, (d) and teacher use of cues, prompts, and positive reinforcement
of appropriate student behavior.
Precorrection begins with teacher identification of a potentially difficult situation, both the context in which the
behavior occurs and the behavior itself. Next, the teacher (a) delineates the expected behavior, (b) modifies the
context in which the behavior is to occur, (c) provides multiple opportunities for students to practice the
expected behavior, (d) delivers positive reinforcement to students who engage in the expected behavior, and (e)
gives reminders to students regarding the expected behavior before the opportunity arises to engage in the
behavior (Colvin et al., 1993). Similarly, Lewis (2004) advocated an error correction strategy that is comprised
of three parts:
1. Signaling the student that an error has occurred (refer to a particular rule; ―We respect others and that
means no put downs.‖).
2. Asking the student to engage in a more appropriate response (―How can you show respect and still get
your point across?‖).
3. Ensuring that the student has ample opportunity to practice and be reinforced for engaging in a more
acceptable behavior. In either case, teacher precorrection decreases the likely future occurrence of the
inappropriate behavior (Lampi et al., 2005).
Precorrection statements should be given before students engage in an activity that may precipitate problem
behavior, which also serves to increase greater student self-regulation (Colvin et al., 1993; Van Acker, 2007).
However, error correction is useful only to the extent that the student is able to engage in the desired response
or the teacher is willing to teach it directly and systematically. As with any intervention, the effectiveness of
precorrection is relative to the power of competing contextual forces (e.g., amount of encouragement classmates
give a student to act-up; Van Acker, 2007).
Conclusions Regarding the Use of Rules, Praise, Ignoring, and Reprimands
The accumulated evidence shows that rules, praise, ignoring, and reprimands continue to represent sound
classroom management strategies, but with several caveats. First, experts assert that teachers should limit the
number of rules to those that can be enforced consistently and concentrate, rather, on behavioral expectations.
Second, those classroom expectations should be taught directly and systematically, and students should have
ample opportunity to engage in the behavior and receive positive teacher feedback. Third, teacher feed-back
should include a clear message regarding both start and stop behaviors (Van Acker, 2007), whereas, low
intensity behavior may be addressed best through teacher cues and prompts (e.g., ―Class, remember to...‖).
Fourth, many authorities no longer view praise as a stand-alone strategy; rather, they suggest that teachers pair
praise with physical proximity and increased opportunities for students to respond correctly. This
recommendation is predicated on the so-called spread effect that stems from the use of multiple evidence-based
practices. Finally, if teachers choose to use planned ignoring, it should be coupled with differential
reinforcement of incompatible behavior to increase the level of acceptable student behavior (Scheuermann &
Hall, 2008).
In the review, it was found that, over time there has been a marked increase in the importance attached to
antecedent strategies, such as contingent instruction and precorrection. In addition, there has been growing
recognition that positive classroom reinforcement must be strong enough to support a plan of intervention
(Deunic, Smith, Brank, & Penfield, 2006). Both research and experience underscore the fact that there are times
when the use of rules, praise, or ignoring is counter indicated. When it is obvious that rules, praise, or ignoring
are not working, the best course of action is to develop a plan of intervention based on a functional behavior
assessment (Alberto & Troutman, 2006; Burnhill, 2005; Kerr & Nelson, 2006; Lane et al., 2002).
In all, the accumulated research supports the efficacy of longstanding classroom management strategies
consisting of rules, praise, ignoring, and reprimands. And, because such tactics require neither extensive
preparation nor excessive effort, it makes good sense for teachers to make use of these proven-effective
strategies. Along with the judicious use of classroom rules, contingent praise, planned ignoring, and quiet
reprimands, strategies, such as maximizing learning time, offering ample opportunities for high rates of correct
responding, and monitoring of group-individual performance, allow teachers to establish a positive classroom
climate conducive to learning. There is one final thought. A recommitment to the basic practices puts teachers
one-step closer to creating a classroom environment in which all students are successful learners.
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... Parmi les interventions positives, l'utilisation de stratégies verbales visant le renforcement positif des comportements adéquats est considérée comme étant la base de toute intervention à mettre en place auprès des élèves qui présentent des problèmes de comportement extériorisés (Ennis et al., 2019). Malgré cette réalité, des enseignants seraient réticents à utiliser ce type de stratégies (Gable et al., 2009). Bien que les enseignants mentionnent privilégier l'utilisation de stratégies positives, certaines études observationnelles montrent que Le sentiment d'efficacité personnelle en gestion de classe représente donc un domaine distinct du sentiment d'efficacité personnelle, et peut être défini comme l'évaluation de sa capacité à organiser et à mettre en place les actions nécessaires pour préserver l'ordre au sein de la classe (Brouwers et Tomic, 2000). ...
... L'utilisation de stratégies punitives serait particulièrement inefficace chez les élèves présentant un haut niveau de problèmes de comportement extériorisés (Carlson et al., 2013). L'utilisation de stratégies verbales positives visant le renforcement de comportements appropriés est quant à elle associée à une diminution des comportements extériorisés en classe (Gable et al., 2009). Par contre, les stratégies verbales positives pourraient être insuffisantes chez les élèves qui présentent un niveau élevé de problèmes de comportement extériorisés, et l'utilisation d'interventions plus intensives (p. ...
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Cette étude teste un modèle où le sentiment d’efficacité personnelle des enseignants au regard de la gestion de la classe, les stratégies verbales positives et punitives de gestion des comportements et leurs relations avec les problèmes de comportement extériorisés des élèves sont reliés à la satisfaction au travail des enseignants. Les 80 enseignants participants proviennent du Québec et de l’Ontario. Ils ont fourni des évaluations, entre autres, pour deux élèves de leur classe (n = 157) présentant un niveau élevé de problèmes de comportement extériorisés. Les résultats d’un modèle d’équations structurelles montrent que le sentiment d’efficacité des enseignants en gestion de classe est relié positivement à leur satisfaction au travail et aux stratégies verbales positives utilisées. Par ailleurs, ils révèlent que le niveau global des problèmes de comportement extériorisés de l’ensemble des élèves de la classe est associé négativement à la satisfaction au travail. La discussion porte sur l’implication théorique et pratique de ces résultats, notamment le rôle que pourraient jouer certaines interventions pour réduire les problèmes de comportement extériorisés des élèves et favoriser la satisfaction au travail des enseignants.
... In contrast, teachers have a more complicated relationship with behaviours like 'conditional positive regard.' On one hand, removing warmth and attention is often recommended to teachers as a behaviour management strategy on the basis of operant conditioning (Gable et al., 2009). On the other hand, selfdetermination theory proposes that conditional regard can thwart all three psychological needs, making students feel less competent and pressured to conform, while damaging the teacher-student relationship (Kanat-Maymon et al., 2021). ...
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Educational psychology usually focuses on explaining phenomena. As a result, researchers seldom explore how well their models predict the outcomes they care about using best-practice approaches to predictive statistics. In this paper, we focus less on explanation and more on prediction, showing how both are important for advancing the field. We apply predictive models to the role of teachers on student engagement: the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours that translate motivation into progress. We integrate the suggestions from four prominent motivational theories, and aim to identify those most critical behaviours for predicting changes in students’ engagement in physical education. Students (N = 1,324 all from Year 7, 52% girls) from 17 low socio-economic status schools rated their teacher’s demonstration of 71 behaviours in the middle of the school year. We also assessed students’ engagement at the beginning and end of the year. We trained elastic-net regression models on 70% of the data and then assessed their predictive validity on the held-out data (30%). The models showed that teacher behaviours predicted 4.39% of the variance in students’ change in engagement. Some behaviours that were most consistently associated with a positive change in engagement were being good role models (β = 0.046), taking interest in students’ lives outside of class (β = 0.033), and allowing students to make choices (β = 0.029). The influential behaviours did not neatly fit within any single motivational theory. These findings support arguments for integrating different theoretical approaches, and suggest practitioners may want to consider multiple theories when designing interventions. More generally, we argue that researchers in educational psychology should more frequently test how well their models not just explain, but predict the outcomes they care about.
... Praise is an expression of admiration and approval and can be communicated vocally, in writing, by sign-language or other types of alternative and augmentative communication (Brophy, 1981;Gable et al., 2009;Owen et al., 2012;Savage et al., 2018). Research investigating the reinforcing properties of praise is mixed, with some studies finding praise to be a reinforcer for behavior (e.g., DiCarlo & Reid, 2004;Everett et al., 2005;Harris et al., 1967;Lomas et al., 2010;Sutherland et al., 2000). ...
Behavioral intervention manuals for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly recommend that praise should be delivered in an enthusiastic tone of voice. Only a few studies, however, have explicitly tested this assumption, and results have been mixed. This study therefore compared the effects of enthusiastic and non‐enthusiastic tone of voice in praise on the behavior of children with ASD. We also examined how typically developing (TD) children responded to enthusiastic and non‐enthusiastic praise. Participants were 21 children with ASD matched on developmental age with the chronological age of 20 TD children. The effects of enthusiastic and non‐enthusiastic praise were assessed using an application on a tablet computer designed to isolate tone of voice as a variable in vocally delivered praise. Two buttons produced the same six praise statements, one with an enthusiastic tone of voice and one with a neutral tone of voice. Results showed that the children with ASD, on average, allocated more responding to the square on the tablet computer producing enthusiastic praise as compared to the square producing non‐enthusiastic praise. In addition, higher rates of responding to non‐enthusiastic praise correlated positively with higher IQ, suggesting that non‐enthusiastic praise was more effective for children with ASD with higher cognitive scores. The TD children, in contrast, did not allocate more responding to either the squares, suggesting that tone of voice in praise was not an important variable for the behavior of TD children.
... BSP can be described as providing a student with positive acknowledgment about a specific behavior the student displayed (e.g., "Nice job applying your strategies to solve that problem;" Allday et al., 2012). BSP has been found to improve academic and social behaviors across grade levels (Downs et al., 2019;Sutherland et al., 2000), is considered an evidencebased practice by the Council of Exceptional Children (Royer et al., 2019), and described as one of the simplest strategies to implement (Gable et al., 2009). Some scholars recommend BSP should be delivered a minimum of six times every 15 min (Sutherland et al., 2000). ...
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Behavior-specific praise (BSP) is one of the simplest classroom management strategies to implement and considered an evidence-based practice. Unfortunately, teachers underuse BSP and deliver more reprimands to students in their classrooms. Secondary students receive the highest rates of reprimands and exclusionary discipline (i.e., office discipline referral [ODR], suspension, expulsion) with students of color receiving disproportionate rates compared to their White peers. Performance feedback is a commonly used strategy to change teacher practices however, little is known about the impact of performance feedback on the equitable delivery of BSP and reprimands to students by race and sex. The purpose of this multiple baseline design study was to examine the effects of a visual performance feedback (VPF) intervention with secondary teachers on their equitable delivery of BSP and reprimands and the collateral impacts on student outcomes. In the first phase of intervention, teachers received VPF on their total BSP and reprimands. In the second phase, teachers received disaggregated VPF on their rates of BSP and reprimands delivered to students by race and sex. Results indicate a functional relation between VPF and total BSP and an overall reduction in total reprimands. Mixed results were found between VPF and the equitable delivery of BSP and reprimands rates delivered to students by race and sex. Student outcomes indicated an increase in average class-wide academic engagement and no impact on ODRs as no teacher delivered a single ODR. Key findings, limitations, and future research are discussed.
... Through explicit teaching, teachers can be clearer and more consistent in communicating what is expected behaviorally from students, leading to actions that are more positive, fair, and encouraging. In addition, proactive teaching approaches for behavior that include behavioral rehearsal and feedback are more likely to result in improvements in student behavior (Gable et al., 2009), thereby making it more likely that teachers treat students with increased levels of respect. ...
Positive school climates are associated with numerous benefits for students and school staff. Although there is some evidence that the implementation of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS) impacts features of school climate, such as organizational health, the specific aspects of SWPBIS that contribute to climate have yet to be investigated. In this study, we examined how different components of SWPBIS predicted 490 school staff members’ perceptions of school climate. After controlling for race and time in the profession, aspects of staff members’ school climate perceptions were positively predicted by the teaching of behavioral expectations and having well-defined corrective consequence systems, and they were negatively predicted by district support for the SWPBIS initiative and having strong school-wide reward systems. These results have implications for which components of SWPBIS schools should prioritize for training and development to have the strongest impact on their staff members’ perceptions of school climate.
The Classroom Strategies Assessment System (CSAS) is a multi-rater, multi-method (direct observation and rating scale methodology) assessment of teachers’ use of research-based instructional and behavior management strategies. The present study investigated the association between teacher self-report and school administrator ratings using the CSAS Teacher (CSAS-T) and Observer (CSAS-O) Forms in 15 high-poverty charter schools. The CSAS-T and CSAS-O were designed to be used concurrently as a valid formative assessment of teacher practice. Findings include small, but statistically significant correlations between the CSAS-T and CSAS-O. Analysis of a multi-trait–multi-method (MTMM) matrix found teachers and observers to be measuring different constructs. No mean score differences were found between teacher self-reported instruction and behavior management strategy use compared with school administrators’ observed ratings. Furthermore, school administrators and teachers have similar ratings of overall effectiveness, with the majority of teachers in the sample being rated at or above effective. Overall, findings offer support for using the CSAS-O and CSAS-T for guiding professional development conversations.
Managing student behavior is an essential component to creating positive and productive learning environments for school-aged children. As more teachers shift to synchronous online teaching, they face managing student behavior in a new learning environment that can pose distinctive challenges. Fortunately, teachers can bring to their online teaching many of the practices they use when teaching face to face. Teachers can use some practices the same way, and others may need minor modifications. Likewise, teachers have a variety of technologies at their disposal to assist them in facilitating online behavior management practices. This article recommends several online behavior management practices, suggests modifications for their use, and presents several technologies teachers can use to manage their students’ online behavior.
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Two studies examined issues related to school discipline in 19 middle schools. Results found there was little evidence of a consistent relationship between the offense and consequence. A disproportionate pattern in the administration of school discipline based on race, socioeconomic status, gender, and disability was also found. (Author/CR)
Researchers have long sought to identify teaching acts that have a predictable effect on learner performance. The contingent use of teacher praise is well documented for its positive influence on the social behavior of handicapped youngsters. However, results of the present study indicate that teachers of the mentally retarded, multihandicapped and learning disabled and/or behavior disordered make limited use of praise over criticism in managing classroom behavior. Even though the technology exists for training selected teacher competencies, e.g., use of contingent praise, it would appear that problems remain in connection with maintaining these skills in applied settings.
The purpose of this investigation was to explore the Patterson and Reid (1970) reciprocal/coercive interaction hypothesis as related to the classroom social interactions between teachers and students identified with severe behavior disorders. Additionally, four classroom behavior management strategies are identified as potential setting events for either coercive or positive reciprocal interactions between teachers and students. The literature reviewed indicates that teachers are more likely to attend to student inappropriate behavior (an indicator of coercive interactions) than they are to use positive verbal attention for appropriate behavior (an indicator of positive reciprocal interactions). From this perspective, the authors speculate that the management strategies of posting classroom rules, classroom arrangement, teacher movement in the classroom, and external reinforcement systems (e.g., token economies) may more likely be used as setting events to enhance the effects of teacher coercion rather than potential setting events to enhance positive reciprocal interactions. Recommendations are made for research concerning this hypothesis and for teachers' use of these strategies as setting events for positive reciprocal interactions.
Written specifically for teachers, this book offers a wealth of research-based principles for motivating students to learn. Its focus on motivational principles rather than motivation theorists or theories leads naturally into discussion of specific classroom strategies. Throughout the book these principles and strategies are tied to the realities of contemporary schools (e.g., curriculum goals) and classrooms (e.g., student differences, classroom dynamics). The author employs an eclectic approach to motivation that shows how to effectively integrate the use of extrinsic and intrinsic strategies. Guidelines are provided for adapting motivational principles to group and individual differences and for doing 'repair work' with students who have become discouraged or disaffected learners. © 1997 Th e McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. © 2004 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
In Pan II of this two-part article, we present some conceptual and practice issues on the use of empirically supported interventions in school and community settings. Conceptual issues discussed include the foci of effective intervention studies, specification of interventions, and intervention manuals and procedural guidelines. We conclude with a discussion of essential practice issues, given a dual goal of advancing research in empirically supported interventions and of producing a knowledge base that has a direct meaning and application to school and community settings.