Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Components of Self-Management: Self-Reinforcement

Components of Self-Management
4: Self-Reinforcement

In general, self-reinforcement refers to an arrangement in which a student gives himself or herself a reinforcer (reward), contingent on a behavior (Adapted from Goldiamond, 1976). When using a token economy (or point system), the following steps may be used to increase student independence in self-reinforcement (based on Drabman, Spitalnik, & O’Leary, 1973 and Turkewitz, O’Leary, & Ironsmith, 1975 as cited in Alberto & Troutman, 2009).

1. Teachers (or other adults) initially award and record points and give reinforcers (rewards) to the students. Once the student is successful with this step, move to step 2.

2. Students record points on a chart as directed (awarded by) the teacher. In other words, the teacher tells the student when to mark a point on the chart or put a coin in the jar (whatever type of reward system you are using): “Good job working on your assignment, Jennifer! You can put one sticker on your chart.”

3. Students award points to themselves. Bonus points are earned for matching the teacher’s ratings. In other words, students determine whether they have met a certain criteria (such as a specified number of minutes on-task or a certain number of behaviors completed) and give themselves points accordingly. When enough points are earned, students give themselves a pre-established reward (such as taking a break to draw). Teachers are also keeping track of these points on their own charts, and the two are compared for accuracy.

4.Teacher matching is gradually faded out, and as they become more skilled in using the system, students independently rate and reward their own behavior.


Alberto, P. A., & Troutman, A. C. (2009). Applied behavior analysis for teachers (8th ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Goldiamond, I. (1976). Self-reinforcement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 9(4), 509-514.

Koegel, R. L., Koegel, L. K., & Surratt,A. (1992). Language intervention and disruptive behavior in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 22, 141-152.

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