Behavior plans can fail miserably if we don't have incentives that students care about. Despite that, we often stick a prize box in front of them and expect that to be motivating. When I stopped to talk to students about what they liked, I got good results. I've got even better results when I used a reward menu. I got great results when I used a forced choice reinforcement survey.
Let's take a look at why we should be using reinforcement surveys for behavior plans and why we should be upgrading to forced choice reinforcement surveys for students.
Why Use a Reinforcement Survey?
Behavior plans are a lot of work. The student is struggling, everyone is frustrated, and it's another thing on all our plates.
Why would we skip the step of making sure the whole plan is motivating to the student? Beats me, but it happens all the time.
Key Takeaway: Take the time to talk with the students. There are plenty of lists of rewards you can google as a place to start. Develop a plan with them and not just for them.
Why Use a Forced Choice Reinforcement Survey?
Reward Menus are great, but forced choice reinforcement surveys are better.
I read research papers (#dorkandproud) and forced choice reinforcement surveys are the best way to come up with motivating incentives.
So what the heck is a forced choice reinforcement survey?
Here is the gist. You have rewards sorted into a couple of motivational categories. You put options from two different categories in front of the student. They pick their favorite. This goes on for multiple trials until you have narrowed down to the kinds of rewards the student prefers.
For example, does the student prefer something tangible (e.g., prize box) or access to something (e.g., first choice at free time)?
Once you know they like a certain category of incentives, you can brainstorm different rewards in that category.
Will the Reward Work?
So you discovered the kind of rewards the student likes. There are still a couple things that could get in the way of them working. Eliminate any rewards that are not acceptable or easily available. It will sabotage things from the beginning.
You can review the reward options with teachers and staff prior to using the rewards survey to ensure any false starts.
Is the reward acceptable? Does the teacher approve of using the reward with this student? Are parent(s) likely to approve of the reward for their child?
Is the reward readily available? Is the reward typically available in a school setting? If not, can it be obtained with little inconvenience and at a cost affordable to staff or parents?
Keep It Fresh
Another part that keeps rewards motivating is changing them out periodically. From the forced choice reinforcement survey, you know the kinds of rewards that a student prefers. This makes it easier to brainstorm other rewards that would fit in the same category.
A student who is motivated by access to something might have extra recess time or computer time or a special game.
Check in with the student regularly to see if they want to switch out their rewards or you can do it on a regular schedule (every two weeks or monthly).
Here are two more posts to get your behavior plans in tip top shape.