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Self-Management in the Classroom


It is improper for teachers to solely use intrusive reinforcers in their quest to teach students how to behave appropriately. They should use them moderately to prevent dependency among the students. They should only use them when necessary and withdraw gradually while training their learners to respond to natural reinforcement. Teachers should also learn how to use rules in ensuring that their leaners do the right thing at all times. Such rules must be concise, positively stated and unambiguous. Proper management of rules leads to self-driven learners who work together in achieving their individual goals.

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Descriptors and the Key Points

  1. Self-management strategies, intrusive strategies, rule management, rule compliance
  2. Teachers should teach students how to behave as expected without necessarily depending on intrusive and artificial reinforcers. Though, it is difficult for the students to correct their behaviors without reinforcement, teachers should only use reinforcement as a way of introducing them to desired behaviors. They should then withdraw the reinforcement because overusing reinforcement leads to dependency. Teachers can also make rules to guide their learners’ activities. Such rules should foster cooperative learning. Cooperative learning promotes independent learning among the students.

Summary of Article One

Terrance Scot (1998) argues that most teachers do not know how to correct inattentiveness among students with this problem. He observes that most teachers always want to force such students to pay attention. He also observes that some teachers concentrate too much on using intrusive and artificial reinforcers. According to him, forcing students to pay attention only startles them instead of bringing their minds back to class. On the other hand, the use of intrusive reinforcement makes them develop dependency on the reinforcers. That means that the desired behavior is only exhibited as long as the reinforcers exist, but fades away as soon as they are withdrawn. Scot insists that teachers should study their students’ behaviors and come up with good methods of teaching them self-management skills that can continue even after the withdrawal of intrusive reinforcers. He proposes gradual withdrawal of artificial reinforcement to prevent dependency.

Summary of Article Two

Rademacher, Callahan and Pederson-Seelye (1998) argue that proper formulation and management of classroom rules leads to efficient learning among individual learners. They go further to argue that the whole class becomes knowledgeable as a result of proper individual learning. According to their argument, effective rule-management fosters proper time, material and instructional management. They insist that the rules formulated for the class should be clear, precise and unambiguous to cater for individual differences among the students. The authors further argue that such rules drive students towards self-discipline and collaboration, which are the prerequisites of good performance in class and community.

They also assert that effective behavior correction occurs only when teachers explain to the students why it is necessary to follow the rules. Effective teachers also show their students how to adhere to the set rules. Finally, they argue that an effective routine for rule management must state the guidelines for planning, teaching and evaluating the usefulness of the rules. Summarily, this article reminds teachers that every learner has the potential to do well academically and behaviorally despite the individual differences. Therefore, educators must forget about the causes of poor performance and give more attention to things that can elicit collaboration and improved productivity of each student. The authors of this article believe that properly formulated rules foster responsibility and team-work among learners. According to them, responsibility and team-work can make even the most diverse group of students work together towards achieving a common aim.

Thoughts, Reactions and Criticism of the Article

These articles have given me many important ideas about my profession, and I believe they will help me grow professionally. I have learnt that overdependence on intrusive reinforcers is harmful to the efforts I put in correcting students since it leads to overdependence. Henceforth, I will be using them moderately. I will mostly use natural reinforcers to elicit permanent changes in students’ behaviors. I have also learnt that the rules I set in class must be concise, positive and unambiguous. I am sure that these skills will collectively help me develop as a professional educator.

In my class, one student, Anderson, only follows instructions when I promise to reward him for compliance. Otherwise, he makes animal noises in protest to instructions. Therefore, I will start withdrawing the gifts slowly as I look for ways to introduce natural reinforcers. I will also write the rules using positive words. For example, I will change the rule that says, “Learners should not shout to capture the teacher’s attention” to “Learners should raise their hands to capture the teacher’s attention”.

This information is different from my idea about the topic since I have always thought that artificial reinforcers are enough for inducing the recurrence of a positive trait. The article refutes this belief and states that reinforcers should be used moderately. The idea about rules is also different from the idea I had about them. I always believed that rules are the major cause of non-compliance. On the contrary, the article argues that if the rules are clearly and positively stated, they will elicit desired behaviors.

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I will apply these ideas in my class by coming up with enough rules to prevent the occurrence of undesired behaviors such as noise-making, non-compliance, bullying, aggression and self-injurious activities. There are very many cases of non-compliance in my class. I will write down a list of things that students are supposed to do and clearly state the consequences of non-compliance.

After reading the articles, my opinion on reinforcement has changed. I now know that artificial reinforcers are not always successful in encouraging positive behaviors. Overusing them can lead to dependency.


Rademacher, J. ,Callahan, K. & Pederson-Seelye, V.(1998). How do your classroom rules measure-up?: Guidelines for developing an effective rule-management routine. Intervention in School and Clinic, 33(5): 284-289.

Scott, T. (1998). Moving from token economies to teaching self-management. Reaching Today’s Youth, 83-85.

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