Good Behavior Game

Prevention; Ages 6–8

Effectiveness

(Read the criteria for this rating)
  • Effective delinquency program

Description

The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a classroom management strategy designed to improve aggressive/disruptive classroom behavior and prevent later criminality. It is implemented when children are in early elementary grades in order to provide students with the skills they need to respond to later, possibly negative, life experiences and societal influences.

The program is universal and can be applied to general populations of early elementary school children, although the most significant results have been found for children demonstrating early high-risk behavior.

The Good Behavior Game is primarily a behavior modification program that involves students and teachers. It improves teachers’ ability to define tasks, set rules, and discipline students and allows students to work in teams in which each individual is responsible to the rest of the group. Before the game begins, teachers clearly specify those disruptive behaviors (e.g., verbal and physical disruptions and noncompliance) that, if displayed, will result in a team’s receiving a checkmark on the board. By the end of the game, teams that have not exceeded the maximum number of marks are rewarded, while teams that exceed this standard receive no rewards. Eventually, the teacher begins the game with no warning and at different periods during the day so that students are always monitoring their behavior and conforming to expectations.

Evaluations of the program have demonstrated beneficial effects for children at the end of the first grade and positive outcomes at Grade 6 for males displaying early aggressive behavior.

At the end of first grade, GBG students, compared with a control group, had:

  • Less aggressive and shy behaviors according to teachers.
  • Better peer nominations of aggressive behavior.

At the end of sixth grade, GBG students, compared with a control group, demonstrated:

  • Decreases in levels of aggression for males who were rated highest for aggression in the first grade.

Risk Factors

Individual
Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Early and persistent noncompliant behavior
Early onset of aggression/violence
Hyperactivity/impulsivity
Lack of guilt and empathy
Low perceived likelihood of being caught
Mental health problems
School
Frequent school transitions
Poorly defined rules and expectations for appropriate conduct

Endorsements

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Effective program

OJJDP Blueprints Project: Promising program

Crime Solutions: Effective

OJJDP Model Programs: Effective

Contact

Jeanne Poduska, Sc.D.
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (410) 347-8553
E-mail: jpoduska@air.org
Web site: http://www.air.org/focus-area/education/?id=127

References

Kellam, S. G.; Rebok, G. W.; Ialongo, N.; and Mayer, L. S. (1994). “The Course and Malleability of Aggressive Behavior From Early First Grade Into Middle School: Results of a Developmental Epidemiologically-Based Preventive Trial.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35:259–281.

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