College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Behavior Change and Perceptions of Change: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Token Economy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2004

Keywords

Program Effectiveness, Disadvantaged Youth, Student Behavior, Observation, Child Behavior, Contingency Management, Behavior Change, Token Economy

Publication Title

Child and Family Behavior Therapy

ISSN

0731-7107

Volume

26

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Token economies often reduce problematic classroom behavior in preschool settings. In the present study, direct observation and teacher ratings of child behavior and treatment acceptability were utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of a token economy in a Head Start classroom. Because many teachers express concerns about the effort required to implement and maintain token systems, this study compared the relative efficacies of group and individualized contingency management programs. Direct observation data for three children revealed that both the individual and group contingency were superior to a baseline condition in which no systematic behavior management program was utilized. In addition, the whole group contingency was generally as effective as the individual contingency. However, despite reductions in classroom rule violations for the three target children, the acceptability of the token program was variable and little change was observed in the teacher's ratings of their behavior. The results suggest the ongoing need for multiple measures of treatment outcome (e.g., teacher and student ratings of acceptability and effectiveness, direct observation) even for empirically supported school-based interventions.

DOI

10.1300/J019v26n02_02