Good Behavior Game (GBG) is designed to improve aggressive/disruptive classroom behavior and prevent later criminality. GBG attempts to reduce a child's externalizing behavior and to promote prosocial behavior by encouraging positive interactions with peers. GBG improves teachers’ ability to define tasks, set rules, and discipline students. It is implemented when children are in early elementary grades to provide them 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.
GBG is a classroom management strategy in which students are assigned to work in teams, and each individual is responsible to the rest of his or her team for its success. It is understood that the entire team will be rewarded if they are found to be in compliance with classroom rules.
Before the game begins, teachers clearly specify those disruptive behaviors (e.g., verbal and physical disruptions, noncompliance) that, if displayed, will result in a team’s receiving a checkmark on the board. Team members are encouraged to support each other's efforts at appropriate behavior. 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.
GBG is implemented in three phases. In the introduction phase, children and teachers are familiarized with the GBG intermittently and for short periods of time. In the expansion phase, the duration of the GBG, the settings in which the GBG is played, and the behaviors targeted by the GBG are expanded. In the generalization phase, compliance with classroom rules outside GBG periods is encouraged by explaining to children that the GBG rules are applicable even when the game is not played. Eventually, the teacher begins the game with no warning and at different periods during the day, so students are always monitoring their behavior and conforming to expectations.
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Kellam and colleagues (1994) examined the impact of GBG separately by gender, first comparing the total male children and then the total female children who received GBG with the GBG and ML internal controls, external controls, and the ML children. No main effects of GBG were found for males compared with the combined control groups, including ML, for the total population of males. There also were no main effects of the GBG for all females.
The analysis did show that for males with higher levels of aggression at first grade there were increasing and significant effects of the GBG at sixth grade. Thus the effect of the GBG varied as a function of aggression severity. Regression analysis showed that GBG did not appear to protect the children who were not aggressive from the start of the study from becoming aggressive. The boys who improved had exhibited aggressive behavior to benefit from GBG.
Witvliet and colleagues (2009) found reduced rates of externalizing behavior among GBG children, compared with control children. GBG children had a reduced growth in externalizing behavior, which resulted in a significant reduction of externalizing problems at the end of the second grade. The finding on reductions of externalizing behavior was specific for boys, a finding consistent with study 1 results.
The study also found that GBG students were more accepted by peers, had more mutual friends, and showed more proximity to others than control group students did. These results partially mediated the reductions in externalizing behavior induced by the GBG intervention.
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