Good Behaviour Game - group-contingent positive reinforcement of children's prosocial behaviour

At a glance

Country of origin: 
USA
Added to registry: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 10:15

Target group: 
Children in the US first and second grades (7-8 years old) in low to middle socioeconomic status classes
Age group: 
6-10 years
Programme setting(s): 
School
Level(s) of intervention: 
Universal intervention

The Good Behaviour Game (GBG) is a classroom-based behaviour management strategy for elementary school that teachers use along with a school’s standard instructional curriculum. GBG uses a classroom-wide game format, with teams and rewards, to socialise children to the role of student and reduce aggressive, disruptive classroom behaviour, which is a risk factor for adolescent and adult illicit drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, antisocial personality disorder, and violent and criminal behaviour.
In GBG classrooms, the teacher assigns all children to teams that are balanced with regard to gender; aggressive, disruptive behaviour; and shy, socially isolated behaviour. Basic rules of student behaviour in the classroom are displayed and reviewed. When GBG is played, each team is rewarded if team members commit a total of four or fewer infractions of the classroom rules during a game period.

During the first weeks of the intervention, GBG is played three times a week for 10 minutes each time, during periods of the day when the classroom environment is less structured and the students are working independently of the teacher. Game periods are increased in length and frequency at regular intervals; by mid-year, the game may be played every day. Initially, the teacher announces the start of a game period and gives rewards at the conclusion of the game. Later, the teacher defers rewards until the end of the school day or week. Over time, GBG is played at different times of the day, during different activities and in different locations; the game evolves from being highly predictable in timing and occurrence with immediate reinforcement to being unpredictable with delayed reinforcement, so that children learn that good behaviour is expected at all times and in all places.

Keywords: 
No data

Overview of results from the European studies

Last reviewed: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Evidence rating: 
Likely to be beneficial
Studies overview: 

The programme has been evaluated in one cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) in Belgium and three cluster RCTs in the Netherlands (one of which was conducted with children with psychiatric disorders).

The RCT in Belgium, involving children aged 7.4 years on average, found statistically significant positive effects at post-test on observed teacher behaviour management and some peer-rated and observed child classroom behaviours.

The Dutch RCT that involved children aged 5-13 years with psychiatric disorders found statistically significant effects favouring the intervention at post-test on teacher-reported child emotional and behavioural problems, but no effect on most measures of teacher self-reported outcomes.

One of the other Dutch RCTs, involving children with a mean age of 6 years, found a statistically significant positive effect at post-test on teacher-reported externalising behaviour and peer relations.

The final study in the Netherlands, also an RCT, involved children aged 6.9 years on average. It found a statistically significant effect favouring the intervention on teacher-reported child ADHD, bullying, victimisation and anxiety/depression, but not on anti-social or aggressive behaviours at post-test. From age 10 to 13 years, young people who had participated in the programme had a lower probability of starting to use tobacco and reduced growth in alcohol weekly use, but there was no statistically significant effect on weekly tobacco use and past year or month of alcohol use.

The programme has been rated as Promising by Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development based on a review of studies conducted world-wide.

References of studies
Countries where evaluated: 
Belgium
Netherlands
USA

Contact details: 

AIR version of GBG
Kellam Sheppard
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore 21205
United States of America
Phone: +1 (410) 614-0680
Email: kellam@jhsph.edu
Website: www.air.org/focus-area/education/?id=127


PAX version of GBG
Dennis Embry
PAXIS Institute
PO Box 31205 Tucson AZ 85751
United States of America
Phone: +1 (520) 299-6770
Email: dde@paxis.org or info@paxis.org
Website: goodbehaviorgame.org/

Protective factor(s): 
Individual and peers: clear morals and standards of behaviour
Individual and peers: interaction with prosocial peers
Individual and peers: opportunities and rewards for prosocial peers involvement
School and work: opportunities for prosocial involvement in education
School and work: rewards and disincentives in school
Xchange Risk factor(s): 
Individual and peers: early initiation of anti-social behaviour
Individual and peers: early initiation of drug/alcohol use
Outcomes targeted: 
Doing well in school
Not depressed or anxious
No suicidal ideation
Alcohol use
Use of illicit drugs
Smoking (tobacco)
Other behaviour outcomes
Description of programme: 

The Good Behaviour Game (GBG) is a classroom-based behaviour management strategy for elementary school that teachers use along with a school’s standard instructional curriculum. GBG uses a classroom-wide game format, with teams and rewards, to socialise children to the role of student and reduce aggressive, disruptive classroom behaviour, which is a risk factor for adolescent and adult illicit drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, antisocial personality disorder, and violent and criminal behaviour.

In GBG classrooms, the teacher assigns all children to teams, usually three, that are balanced with regard to gender; aggressive, disruptive behaviour; and shy, socially isolated behaviour. The teacher assigns a team leader, usually a shy child, to organise activities and pass out rewards. Next, the teacher explains the rules of the game, describing what behaviours will not be allowed during the period in which the GBG is played (which are usually verbal disruption, physical disruption, being out of one’s seat without permission and non-compliance), and the rules are posted on the wall of the classroom.


During the game, the teacher notes the occurrence of problem behaviours by placing ticks next to the name of a team whenever one of its members displays a targeted prohibited behaviour. The teacher neutrally states the behaviour that was displayed, identifies the child who displayed it and praises the other teams for behaving well. A team wins the game if the number of ticks does not exceed four at the end of the game period, and more than one team can win. Initially, members of the winning team receive tangible rewards (stickers, rubbers) and activities (extra break time, class privileges). In addition, any team that wins a game during the week receives a special reward on Friday (such as a party or an outdoor activity). Non-winners engage in quiet seat-work during this time, and they receive no special attention from the teacher.


During the first weeks of the intervention, GBG is played three times a week for 10 minutes each time during periods of the day when the classroom environment is less structured and the students are working independently of the teacher. Game periods are increased in length and frequency at regular intervals; by mid-year, the game may be played every day. Initially, the teacher announces the start of a game period and gives rewards at the conclusion of the game.

Later, the teacher defers rewards until the end of the school day or week. Over time, GBG is played at different times of the day, during different activities and in different locations; the game evolves from being highly predictable in timing and occurrence with immediate reinforcement to being unpredictable with delayed reinforcement, so that children learn that good behaviour is expected at all times and in all places.

GBG originates from work developed in the late 60ies in the US; and that original GBG work was not copyrighted. Therefore, two versions (with variations between them) currently exist, the one by AIR and the one by PAX (see contact information). In the implementation experiences below, we identify the version that was used. The longitudinal studies that established the evidence for the effectiveness of GBG in the US can be connected to both versions, but evaluations of the European PAX version are still in process.

 

 

 

Implementation Experiences: 

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