MODEL 3: THE CONTROL OF BEHAVIOR
[Extracted from Rushall, B. S., & Siedentop, D. (1972). The development and control of behavior in sport and physical education. Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger. (pp. 156-168)]
A second major responsibility for coaching and teaching is the control of behavior. It is appropriate to use behavior control techniques to mold the repertoires and control the frequency of occurrence of the behaviors which are appropriate to sports and physical education environments. Behaviors which are "desirable" should be consistently emitted and those which are "undesirable" should be eliminated. This form of control is differentiated from Shaping Model 1 in that terminal behavior already exist and control procedures are in effect for many behaviors at the same time.
This strategy is appropriate for regulating the emission rate of behaviors. In the group control situation, most performers are expected to exhibit similar behaviors. Individual variations in behavior form only a fraction of the total behaviors displayed. For the teacher or coach to perform such tasks as "discipline" or control, the individuals are expected to display a set of characteristic behaviors for that environment. For example, one set may be "rule-following" behaviors, as defined by the teacher or coach. This does not imply that each participant must act in the same manner. It stipulates that the group displays a set of behaviors which are adaptive to the purpose of the activity with some behaviors being common to all persons and others being displayed by individuals or subgroups.
The coach and teacher need to make a decision as to which behaviors are to be strengthened, which are to be tolerated but not reinforced, and which are to be suppressed. Operant control procedures can be used to develop the desired control once these behaviors are defined.
The primary purpose of this strategy is to designate the procedures which are necessary to bring behaviors under the control of consequences and in some instances, discriminative stimuli. The final product from the application of the strategy should be one where most behaviors are controlled, occurring at desired rates and at appropriate times. A secondary aim of this strategy is to produce some behavioral control that is independent of the teacher's or coach's presence.
There is an abundance of experimental evidence (Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis) which shows that operant control procedures work with individuals and very small groups. The majority of these studies relate the control function as being a property of the controlling agent. These studies should be viewed as conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of operant control procedures. On the other hand, there has been little experimental work done with controlling large groups, bringing behavior under the control of naturally occurring environmental consequences, or producing control from within a group rather than from a single person. Validating evidence is rare for these topics although they have been frequently mentioned (Skinner, 1968 and Bijou & Baer, 1961).
Good control is manifested through the reliable and predictable occurrence of behaviors. In educational settings, behaviors which occur erratically and unreliably serve as indices of poor teaching. Coaches and physical education teachers are concerned with developing (shaping strategy 1) and maintaining behaviors (shaping strategy 2). As Skinner has suggested, there are many "traditional" educators who object to vigorous approaches to the planning and control of classroom behaviors.
An effective technology of teaching, derived not from philosophical principles but from a realistic analysis of human behavior, has much to contribute, but as its nature has come to be clearly seen, strong opposition has arisen. (Skinner, 1968, p. 84).A commonly raised objection (Lawther, 1968) centers on the use of lower animals to develop the principles of behavior. The usual argument against sub-human experimentation is that humans are not comparable to animals. Consequently, derived principles are supposedly invalid for humans. However, the principles of operant control have been shown to be independent of species for they work equally as well for humans as they do for animals. Another objection is often raised about the contrived circumstances which are often associated with control procedures. This point is well taken if unnatural circumstances are all that are provided.
However, contrived consequences often accelerate the effect of control procedures. Teachers and coaches should use them in the initial stages of asserting control. If the control functions are finally transferred to naturally occurring events then desirable outcomes have been attained. The transference of control from contrived to natural circumstances is a feature of this strategy.
Another objection to behavior control in education is that it does not teach certain important activities. Such things as tolerating frustration, self-discipline, how to clear up puzzling matters, etc., are outcomes which are usually attributed to traditional control methods. There is, however, a best strategy for developing outcomes of this type. Such behaviors can be taught more efficiently through the use of behavior control procedures than through traditional teaching methods (Skinner, 1968). The trial-and-error procedures of traditional instruction are avoided by planned, programmed behavior control procedures.
Teaching and coaching are concerned with affecting the topographies and rates of occurrence of behaviors, for example, how consistently a performer can place a backhand drive near the sideline of an opponent's court; how often a team member obeys the rules of the game. No matter how many hypothetical mental structures are proposed as the outcomes of teaching, only observable behaviors can be measured. The scope of teaching physical education and coaching includes bringing behaviors under the control of given variables. Shaping Strategy 2 concerns itself with the rates of emission of defined behaviors.
One of the first requirements for using the strategy is to have some understanding of the existing conditions under which the target behaviors occur. If some insight is gained into these conditions then environmental circumstances can be altered to affect change. In the final stages of control, adaptive behaviors must be maintained by infrequent reinforcement, that is, they come under the control of a schedule of reinforcement. Consistent, infrequently reinforced behaviors are indicative of good behavior control.
A set of procedural steps can be developed for the control of the behavioral repertoires of group members. The repertoires and their constituent behaviors must be considered and then the control parameters for each specific behavior must be defined. The model steps are:
The main task of controlling behavior repertoires is to consistently reinforce a defined set of behaviors. In the discussion of this model, references will be made principally to group control. The application of the model for individual control is similar and generally simpler.
Desirable and Undesirable Behaviors
Desirable and undesirable categories of behavior have been referred to periodically throughout the text. In coaching and teaching there are behaviors which are desirable (adaptive to the situation, e.g., rule-following behaviors) and undesirable (maladaptive to the situation, e.g., disrupting behaviors). The coach and teacher want to strengthen the desirable and weaken or suppress the undesirable behaviors. There also exists a class of behaviors which are relatively neutral to the situation, for example, minor social interactions. These neutral behaviors are usually essential to the social situation but do not actually enhance or detract from performance. For control purposes these behaviors are ignored and are allowed to continue at their baseline rate of occurrence.
Desirable and undesirable behaviors need to be defined and recorded. The definition of these behaviors is extremely important when more than one controlling agent exists for the group. In group control situations, such as a coaching staff or physical education faculty, each assistant coach or staff member must control all behaviors in a similar manner if reliable and consistent behavior forms are to be developed. It is a good practice to record the definitions of the behaviors. They should be referred to constantly by all persons concerned with control so that occurrences of all the target behaviors can be recognized. At a later stage, these behaviors and their classification need to be presented to the class or squad. The most practical procedure for formulating the lists is to have one or more observers watch the group in action and to classify the observed behaviors into the desirable, neutral, and undesirable categories.
Locating Information on Behaviors
Bijou and Baer (1961) described the factors which need to be considered when trying to understand the occurrence of a behavior. They were:
In teaching and coaching, it is not practical to locate all these factors for all behaviors. However, in using this strategy it is necessary to recognize the significant factors which support the behavior and which need to be changed. Only some of the features listed need to be contemplated for each behavior. For example, it may only be necessary to change the reinforcement schedule for the behavior to produce the desired effect. Thus, if one wishes to have a behavior occur more frequently, it is usually only necessary to institute a burst of CRe and then develop intermittent control again once the desired rate has been established, for example, increasing rule-following behaviors and assertive behaviors. In another case it may only be necessary to bring the behavior under the control of a discriminative stimulus. Once a skill is performed at a reasonable level of proficiency the role of discriminative stimuli increases in importance. A quarterback quite often has to discriminate when to throw and when not to throw a pass to avoid an interception. If he throws a lot of interceptions which are costly to the team, then his passing behaviors need to be more finely discriminated. Developing discriminative control may be all that is required. The recognition of the control changes which are necessary is a most important feature of the model. The analysis must reveal the set of conditions that need to be altered so that the parameters for change can be defined.
Probably the most frequently located feature of an existing behavior is the reinforcers which maintain the behavior. It is quite common to have to eliminate reinforcers for certain behaviors. When undesirable behaviors are maintained by positive reinforcement, such as peer attention or approval, such reinforcers need to be removed. Methods such as reforming groups or removing individuals from the environment are useful in circumstances such as these. For effective control changes, the existing control features need to be known.
Two groups of reinforcers need to be established. The first group consists of positive and negative consequences which are strong and suitable for the initial control process. These reinforcers must be readily available for use by the coach or teacher. The second group comprises those positive and negative reinforcers which occur naturally within the environment and are independent of the coach or teacher. These will eventually be used to maintain the behavior. The lists should be varied as they will be used for many reinforcing contingencies on different individuals. It is good practice also to note those reinforcers which are significant for each performer. Some individuals are influenced more by some forms of reinforcement than are others.
Resolve the Parameters for Each Behavior
Each behavior should be considered in the light of several control parameters. Decisions must be made on these features so that they define the procedures to be followed by all persons responsible for control. It is quite likely that there will be a number of behaviors which only require an alteration in their reinforcement schedules, another group may require a finer discriminative control, and still another may need to have a wider variety of reinforcers administered to avoid the problem of satiation. The resolution of factors such as these will dictate the control procedures to be adopted.
A decision must be made as to what rate of emission of the behavior is desirable. Some behaviors will need to be completely suppressed, for example, disruptive behaviors or unsafe behaviors. Others will be tolerated if they are emitted at a low rate, for example, unscheduled rests in training. On the other end of the scale, some behaviors need to occur as often as possible, for example, attendance at class or practice. The decision on rates of occurrence will directly affect the schedule of reinforcement administered. It is valuable to take periodic assessments of each behavior to determine their rate of occurrence. This can be used as an index of the control function exerted by the changed reinforcement schedule. As has been indicated above, there will be behaviors which do not require a schedule change although the control process will be applied for other features which affect the behavior.
The degree of stimulus control required should be determined if it is appropriate. The majority of conduct, social interaction, and task application behaviors will be free-operant behaviors. However, in certain aspects of the teaching and coaching process, particularly where there is highly involved organization, some behaviors cannot be tolerated and need to be discriminated operants, for example, specific rule-following behaviors. Decisions must be made as to what the discriminative stimulus should be for each behavior which needs this control and how the discriminative control is to be implemented.
If applicable, methods of applying contingent reinforcement for each behavior must be determined. This may require some ingenuity on behalf of the controller because many physical activities are performed continuously, for example, swimming laps. Also, in other circumstances the coach or teacher may not be near enough to an individual to present a reinforcer directly.
The main problem to overcome is to minimize the time delay between the response and reinforcement. The longer the delay in providing reinforcement, the less will be its effect upon behavior. When other behaviors occur after the specific response, reinforcement is no longer appropriate.
The schedule of reinforcement will determine the strength of the behavior. CRe will elevate or suppress a behavior to a desired strength and an intermittent (VR/Vl) schedule will maintain the behavior at that level. Because control is shared across the group, the administration of CRe is a most difficult task. The best procedure available appears to be to emit the number of behaviors in the group which are under CRe at the one time. It is possible to have several behaviors under CRe and more under VR/VI schedules at the same time. To be more realistic, CRe will be a high VR/VI schedule as it is virtually impossible to reinforce every occurrence of a behavior for every individual. The procedure of stretching the ratio or interval is one of reinforcing the behavior less and less once it occurs at the desired rate. A common failure in attempts at control occurs when schedules are changed too abruptly or in some cases discontinued. To overcome this failing, it is a good practice to have "booster sessions" of reinforcement each practice session. The behaviors that are established are reinforced periodically to maintain the stretched schedule. The application of an exact schedule which keeps a behavior at one level is almost impossible to achieve in the applied situation. Rather, behaviors seem to vary in their rate of occurrence and "booster sessions" bring them back to their desired strength.
Once a behavior is established and maintained, the control function should then be turned over to naturally occurring consequences. The procedures for doing this have been neglected in the research. Many reinforcers can be administered by members within a group. Social reinforcers are particularly natural to any group activity and all that needs to be done is to define the acceptable reinforcers and when they are to be administered by the group members. By establishing traditions and procedures that are monitored and controlled by the group, behaviors can be reinforced independently of the coach. If a behavior is maintained by intermittent coach-administered reinforcers, then the natural reinforcers need only occur at reasonable times to match the previous schedule when control is finally transferred. Such examples as recognizing performance excellence in various aspects of a game, providing social recognition for outstanding performances, etc., can be used as effective reinforcers. These contingencies are often coach or teacher instigated but are then turned over to the group for administration.
The control function can be transferred to the group. This relieves the coach from some time-consuming responsibilities enabling him to apply himself to other coaching tasks. The principal concern of this step is to develop the persons in the environment as behavioral engineers. There are several examples in the literature of the use of naive persons as controlling agents (Surrat et al., 1969; Hall et al., 1968). To do this, the person needs to know the specific behaviors (obtained from the definitions), what reinforcers are available, and when to administer them.
Each of these steps needs to be planned for each behavior. The initial planning may appear to be overwhehning but as the user becomes more skilled in making these decisions and in using behavior control procedures his efficiency increases and the task size diminishes. Once the initially defined behaviors have come under control, further preparation for the controller is only limited to new behaviors which emerge. The results of this process are more than satisfying to the controller in light of the initial preparation which is required to achieve effective control.
The Application of Control Procedures
The group or individual should be made aware of the desirable and undesirable behaviors which have been defined. This will act as a discriminative stimulus for the behaviors. Rushall (1972) referred to a procedure of using this strategy with a group of advanced swimmers.
A large notice board displaying a list of desirable behaviors and a list of undesirable behaviors should be set up in the pool. The list itemizes all the behaviors so that they are clearly recognizable when they occur. The coach should then reinforce the good behaviors and punish the bad behaviors while controlling the squad. On the administration of each consequence, the group's attention should be drawn to the list. In a short period of time, the swimmers themselves will start to sanction and reprimand the behaviors which are listed (possibly due to generalized imitation). The coach's task will be greatly reduced by this phenomenon. From time to time, the list will be supplemented as more control is required. For this method to be successful, the coach must provide significant importance to the procedure at the time of its introduction. Since the group itself takes over the control function, the coach is relieved of this task and he can then apply himself more fully to other purposes.
The above description highlights the features of implementing the model. The notice board which listed the behaviors served as a reference and reminder of the specific behaviors which were expected in the pool environment (it acted as a set of discriminative stimuli). The capability of adding new behaviors to both classes is also provided. It is likely that the lists will not be exhaustive in the initial stages. The implementation of this process should be quite marked by attaching a great degree of importance to it so that a suitable impression is made upon the group. Stressing the importance should be carried into the application stages by publicly administering reinforcers when necessary (to utilize the vicarious reinforcement phenomenon). This should be maintained for some time (the larger the group the longer the period) until the group accepts the procedure and is fully aware of all the desirable and undesirable behaviors and their consequences. The next stage is to follow all the resolved parameters for each behavior. The awareness of the coach or teacher to the differing desired rates of occurrence between behaviors is important. As control is being achieved the group can be made aware of the sanctions which can be given to the various behaviors. They should be encouraged to administer these consequences themselves to other group members. By doing this, the group will in time come to control its own behavior with only a small degree of supervision and direction from the teacher or coach.
When the teacher is relieved of this control function he can turn more of his attention to actual teaching. This is a very significant feature. One of the main problems with student-teacher relationships is that the teacher is forced to control many behaviors which are not involved with the actual instruction. Such behaviors as attending, drills, discipline, etc., are maintained primarily through aversive controls and negative consequences. If a code of behavior is violated, then the student is usually aversively reinforced. If a code is not violated, the student does not generally receive any reinforcement. In traditional control situations such as these, the student views the teacher as a primarily negative individual. This is not a good relational feature. When the teacher is freed from reliance on aversive control procedures by adopting this strategy for control, he/she is able to develop more meaningful relationships with students.
In all control procedures one needs constantly to appraise their effectiveness. At various times after the inception of this strategy each behavior should be observed to see that it is maintaining the controlled rate. Where rates differ from those originally developed, new control procedures will have to be introduced. Control will continually be part of the coaching or teaching function although it will be less time-consuming once it is established.
This second strategy has indicated that a major method of behavior control is concerned with regulating reinforcement schedules. The rate of occurrence of the behavior is affected. Earlier in Chapter 5 other direct methods of control were explained. These control methods are important for sports and physical education; however, it is often still necessary to control the amplitude of a response. It is more meaningful to have a high jumper clear 7 feet consistently with a straddle technique than it is tojump all heights from 3 feet 6 inches to 7 feet. Time and facilities often restrict the amount of training that is possible. It is essential that a performer and coach participate in meaningful practice under restricted training conditions. It is also highly probable that non-specific training, for example, shot-putting 30 feet, will interfere with more specific training, e.g. shot-putting 60 feet, in highly skilled performers. It would also be desirable to have an athlete perform consistently at a high level of performance. The procedure for getting an athlete to perform near maximum all the time, or at least in a restricted performance range, is called differential reinforcement. Through differential reinforcement response differentiation comes about.
Differential reinforcement consists of reinforcing a limited range of responses from a response class. For example, shot puts over 60 feet are reinforced and those less than 60 feet are not reinforced. In time a 60-feet-plus put becomes differentiated from other throws. With reinforcement, particularly in the form of performance information, the subset of reinforced responses becomes a consistent feature of the individual's behavior. Many activities, like tennis, archery, squash, etc., have evaluative intrinsic feedback as a consequence of many of their operants. Without coaching, these operants undergo automatic differential reinforcement. When an individual hits a tennis ball out of bounds he/she usually tries a modified technique the next time a similar shot is to be made in order to hit the ball in bounds. In operants which provide evaluative intrinsic feedback, it is possible for an individual to achieve a reasonable standard of performance. For example, a beginning golfer produces a wide variety of golf swings from the response class of golf swings. Occasionally a response is differentially reinforced when a good shot is played. After many years of this trial-and-error reinforcement, the uncoached golfer reduces his/her score, produces a restricted set of swings, and incurs a great deal more positive reinforcement than in initial golfing attempts. A coach should be able to capitalize on this intrinsic differential reinforcement and accelerate the development of skill by selectively reinforcing topographical aspects of behaviors.
The main point about response differentiation is that it has value in sports and physical education. It delimits the variety of responses which could be made. A consistent level of performance is very desirable for athletic performance and differential reinforcement aids in achieving this consistency.
TEACHING AS A CONTROL PROCESS
In positively reinforcing environments, the application of individuals to fulfilling their tasks and assignments becomes consistent, the normal problems of motivation, attention and concentration do not arise, and long periods of work are produced without signs of fatigue or nervousness (Skinner, 1965). Under favorable programs of reinforcement, applicative energies are sustained. A student who learns under aversive contingencies gradually restricts responding to behaviors which avoid or escape negative consequences. He/she stops responding when the threatening discriminative stimuli are removed. A too common approach of coaches and physical education teachers is to coerce individuals to react in order to avoid low grades, being dropped from the team, etc. Skills and behaviors produced under these conditions tend not to be continued upon leaving the sport or physical education environment.
Instances of aversive control in physical education are common. Pupils who are late to class are punished so they will not be late again. The lateness itself is an indication that the students are not motivated to get to class. Teachers have to threaten and yell at pupils to provoke action. The class performs only to avoid reprisals. Classes are threatened with punishment if they do not pay attention or a team member is threatened with being dropped if he/she misbehaves. The ludicrous situation arises in some aversively controlled environments where push-ups, extra-laps, and more exercise are used as punishments for inappropriate behaviors. In the same situation at some other time the group is told to do push-ups, run laps, and to exercise because of the good that they do. Direct inconsistencies such as these serve to decrease the control potential for that environment. These are instances of bad teaching procedure through the form of aversive control. A teacher or coach is able to use aversive control because of social position. However, once the teacher is removed, the discriminative stimulus is removed and responding returns to its baseline level. The main impact of this control approach is that there is no "carry-over" value in the teaching.
For every behavior that is punished, an acceptable behavior should be primed and reinforced. By substituting in this manner, the individual will not avoid the situation and his/her repertoire of adaptive behaviors will be increased. This should be a feature of control in using this strategy. This is the most acceptable use of punishment. When inappropriate behaviors occur they can be punished as long as the alternative behavior is reinforced. The acquisition of the new behavior will be accelerated by this procedure. The quickest way to produce a new response is to develop it under continuous reinforcement while punishing all instances of incompatible behaviors.
Perhaps the most serious criticism of instruction and coaching is the relative infrequency of trials and reinforcement. Since the teacher is the main source of reinforcement in the early stages when trials are usually unsuccessful in terms of perfect results, few good approximations, although unsuccessful, are reinforced in this important stage of development. With large classes and squads and autocratic teaching, reinforcement for correct or good responses is far from optimal. Behavior changes are few and small and it is surprising if there is any effect from the teaching procedures at an.
Rewards in sports and physical education are generally not given for a specific behavior. They are usually presented for over-all levels of performance and therefore have questionable effects. To structure good instructional contingencies the teacher must be able to offer immediate reinforcement. Prizes, marks, etc., are some available reinforcers. However, it is common practice to withhold the presentation of these until the behavior is long gone and they therefore lose all their effect. Generally, weak conditioned reinforcers are effective only when they are contingent upon responses.
The operant strategy for control provides a procedure for instituting clear, consistent reinforcement for defined behaviors. This strategy should be combined with the shaping strategy so that a lesson or training session will proceed with both instruction and behavior control. The development of stimulus control is an important feature to be considered when using the strategies. Errorless learning is an important concept for discrimination training (see Chapter 6). Learning experiences should be made as clear and simple as possible while the programmed steps of the shaping strategy should be well within the capabilities of each performer. This approach is very different from the traditional, anxiety-provoking discrimination training where it is usual to reinforce only wrong responses.
The coach and teacher are assigned two main tasks, to develop the topographies of behavior and to bring all behaviors appropriate to the respective environments under the control of infrequent, naturally occurring reinforcement. This is best approached through small group and individual instruction and total group control programs. Individuals must be able to perform at their own rates to produce optimal applicative efforts.
The use of this control strategy promotes the concept of "how one should behave." This may be interpreted as the performer's "role." It comprises a behavior repertoire that has been shaped by the environment. It proposes a method for producing such a repertoire. It becomes possible to talk of a swimmer's role or a football player's role, each being defined by the set of desirable and undesirable behaviors developed through the use of this control strategy. Definitions of a role are situationally specific. The problem person in a class or training squad may display inappropriate behaviors, may not display all the desired behaviors, may not respond to all the stimuli present, and may not obtain the typical or maximum forms of reinforcement available. Precise, behavioral analysis will locate the reasons for the deviations and will suggest where corrective control procedures need to be instigated.
Coaches and teachers of physical education can consider the performance of their squads or classes in a new light, the total integrated behavior pattern or role. A strategy for controlling and modifying this pattern has been discussed. The engineering of circumstances which provide contingent reinforcement is a control factor in the teaching and coaching process. It is necessary to concentrate on the programmed implementation of teaching and control strategies. Behavior changes will be more noticeable and verifiable and the teacher's effectiveness raised. Operant principles of behavior indicate clear steps for achieving behavior development and modification in sports and physical education.
The second strategy is concerned with controlling the rates of occurrence of behavior which occur in sports and physical education. It is applicable for use with behaviors which are already established in an individual's behavior repertoire.
The control function of teachers and coaches is seen as maintaining appropriate behaviors, suppressing inappropriate behaviors, and tolerating the remaining behaviors. This strategy designates the procedures which are necessary to bring behaviors under the control of consequences.
The model concerned with this strategy allows the teacher or coach to attempt to control many behaviors at the same time. It requires a definition of desirable and undesirable behaviors, the location of the conditions which maintain them prior to instituting control, and the features necessary to achieve the desired control. The main feature of the model is that it stipulates that control must be finally achieved by naturally occurring reinforcers (usually members within a group). This relieves the teacher of the continuous task of maintaining discipline or control which is characteristic of traditional education methods.
Teaching and coaching are analyzed in terms of aversive and positive control processes and a strong point is made to have the control procedures emphasize positive reinforcement. The principal use of punishment is acknowledged as being the suppression of behaviors which are incompatible with a response that is being shaped. The strategy outlines the necessary steps for achieving a new level of behavior control in sports and physical education. The control function of the teacher and coach can be enhanced by using the principles of operant psychology.
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