Overview of Research:
Research states that a behavior contract is one of the easiest and most effective practices that caregivers and teachers can use when helping students reach their goals (George, 2001). Since it is common practice in our society to write goals on paper, writing a behavior contract is something that students and caregivers can create and easily refer back to. According to Miller and Kelly (1994), goal setting produces significant improvements for children and often increases parent satisfaction (Miller and Kelly, 1994). In addition, writing contracts have been found to improve social and academic behavior in children and teens (Howard, Sweeney, McLaughlin 1993). Since each contract should be individualized to the child’s needs, specified behaviors are clearly stated and monitored. Children work on improving the listed behavior for a reward agreed upon both teacher/caregiver and student. The reward motivates the child to work toward their goal. The behavior contract can be used in both the home or school setting (Miller and Kelly (1994).
Who it is appropriate for:
The behavior contract is appropriated for any students who are working towards a goal. For example, students who do not like to write in complete sentences or students who have a resistance toward writing. Also appropriate for students who do not naturally edit their work or use periods/capitals when writing sentences. The behavior contract can be used to increase academic or social performance at home, in school, or with friends during unstructured times.
Steps for Implementation:
- Determine developmental and age-appropriate goal for student
- Sit down with student and explain what you would like the child to start doing
- Ask student what they want to work for
- Discuss and negotiate agreement (ex. number of responses needed, prize, system for collecting points)
- Write up agreement/contract
- Have student and teacher sign and agree on terms
- Hang contract in an accessible place to both the teacher and student
- Monitor progress daily or weekly, provide encouragement
- Give prize when earned or re-adjust goal as needed
I _______________________ agree to write five or more sentences when answering an open ended question. I will use a period at the end of a sentence and use a capital when writing the first letter in a sentence. I will check my work to make sure I add a capital and a period. When I write ____________ responses, I will earn _________________. I will be responsible to write a check at the bottom of this page each time my teacher agrees I met my responsibilities listed above.
student name date
teacher name date
Plans to Judge Success:
- Does student meet requirements listed? (For example, does student write five or more sentences on open-ended questions? Does student use capitals when writing a sentence? Does student use proper punctuation (periods, question marks) when writing a sentence?
- Does student express interest in earning the reward? (Ex. I cannot wait to get my stuffed animal once I write 10 responses.)
- Is the contracted being monitored? (Does student put check mark or sticker after every successful writing time?)
- If goal is time sensitive, review progress at the midway point, and every day or week depending on goal.
Allen, L. (1993). Use of Contingency Contracting To Increase On-Task Behavior With Primary Students. Psychology Reports, 72, 905-906.
George, R. (2001). The Behavior Contract: A Tool For Teachers. St. Louis, Missouri: Project Innovation.
Miller, D., Kelley, M. (1994). The Use of Goal Setting and Contingency Contracting For Improving Children’s Homework Performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 73-84.