Acceptability of Rewards Among High School Teachers, Parents, Students, and Administrators: Ecological Implications for Consultation at the High School Level

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  • This article was downloaded by: [North Dakota State University]On: 17 December 2014, At: 23:06Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Journal of Educational andPsychological ConsultationPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hepc20

    Acceptability of RewardsAmong High School Teachers,Parents, Students, andAdministrators: EcologicalImplications for Consultation atthe High School LevelCindy L. Gray , Terry B. Gutkin & Tim R. RileyPublished online: 10 Nov 2009.

    To cite this article: Cindy L. Gray , Terry B. Gutkin & Tim R. Riley (2001)Acceptability of Rewards Among High School Teachers, Parents, Students, andAdministrators: Ecological Implications for Consultation at the High School Level,Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 12:1, 25-43, DOI: 10.1207/S1532768XJEPC1201_02

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S1532768XJEPC1201_02

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  • Acceptability of Rewards AmongHigh School Teachers, Parents,Students, and Administrators:

    Ecological Implications forConsultation at the High School Level

    Cindy L. Gray and Terry B. GutkinUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Tim R. RileyMunroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation

    Although rewards play a critical role in virtually all intervention plans gener-ated by behavioral consultants, we have virtually no knowledge of whichspecific rewards and reward categories are acceptable to the various constitu-ents of consultation services. A participant-generated survey was designedand administered to assess the acceptability of 90 different rewards from theperspective of persons occupying different positions in the ecosystems ofhigh school students (i.e., high school teachers, parents, administrators, andstudents themselves). Findings of this exploratory study revealed that noneof the seven reward categories that were studied were viewed as highly ac-ceptable across all surveyed groups. With the possible exception of academicactivities, which had reasonably strong support among all the participantgroups, important differences were found across the reward categories whencomparing the ratings of adults versus students. An examination of the indi-vidual survey items revealed only a small handful of rewards that received atleast moderate support among all the constituent groups. Difficulties facingbehavioral consultants in high school settings are discussed, along with the

    JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSULTATION, 12(1), 2543Copyright 2001, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

    Correspondence should be addressed to Terry B. Gutkin, 117 Bancroft Hall, University ofNebraskaLincoln, Lincoln, NE 685880345. Email: tgutkinl@unl.edu

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  • need for more research addressing persuasion and interpersonal influence aspotential mechanisms for enhancing reward acceptability.

    Although the scientific literature pertaining to treatment acceptability hasgrown substantially in recent years (e.g., Elliott, 1988; Fairbanks & Stinnett,1997; Gresham & Lopez, 1996; Rasnake, 1993; Reimers, Wacker, & Koeppl,1987), we have virtually no knowledge of which rewards school-basedconsultees find acceptable for use in their classrooms. Given that teachersare less likely to implement an intervention program that they find unac-ceptable (e.g., Axelrod, Moyer, & Berry, 1990; Cafferty, 1992; Hughes, 1992;Lentz, Allen, & Ehrhardt, 1996; Margolis, Fish, & Wepner, 1990; Snyder &Kendzierski, 1982) and that rewards are likely to be an integral element ofalmost every intervention program emerging from behavioral consultationefforts (Bergan & Kratochwill, 1990), it is important for school-based con-sultants to develop a more extensive and empirically validated under-standing of this subject.

    The need to improve our grasp of reward acceptability may be particu-larly pressing for those who work in high schools. For one thing, becausehigh school students regularly interact with numerous teachers during thecourse of each day, and problems are unlikely to be isolated in singularclassroom environments, it is highly probable that behavioral consulta-tions in this setting will involve multiple rather than single consultees.Identifying acceptable rewards may be especially challenging within thiscontext. Additionally, high school-based behavioral consultation normallyinvolves clients who have access to potent rewards outside the school en-vironment (Houlihan, Jesse, Levine, & Sombke, 1991; Sharpe, Wheldall, &Merrett, 1987), thus making the design of effective reinforcement-basedschool interventions all the more difficult. Clearly, knowing which re-wards typically are acceptable to high school teachers would simplify thetask facing high school-based behavioral consultants as they function withgroups of consultees on various cases. Of equal importance, understand-ing which rewards are usually unacceptable would reduce the likelihoodof suggesting inappropriate options within the context of a behavioral in-tervention plan.

    To enhance the utility and external validity of the extant acceptabilityliterature, it is also very important to expand the current knowledge basebeyond teachers (Dappen & Gutkin, 1986; Fairbanks & Stinnett, 1997;Gresham & Lopez, 1996), to include other vital stakeholders in the consul-tation ecosystem. In particular, the perceptions of administrators, parents,and students need to be incorporated into our research. For one thing, re-gardless of whether teachers find a reward to be acceptable for inclusion in

    26 GRAY, GUTKIN, RILEY

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  • a reinforcement-based intervention, they may not be able to use this re-ward in practice if either their administrators or the parents of their clientsfind it to be unacceptable. Likewise, it would not be surprising if some re-wards deemed to be appropriate by adults (e.g., teachers, administrators,parents) might not be particularly acceptable to students themselves, thusrendering these stimuli impotent for all practical purposes.

    To date, we could find no research addressing the reward preferencesfor high school teachers, high school administrators, or the parents of highschool students in the United States. The research addressing reward ac-ceptability among high school students themselves is also quite limited, al-though there has been some research conducted in Great Britain (Caffyn,1989; Sharpe et al., 1987) and Hong Kong (Wan & Salili, 1996) examiningthe attitudes of secondary students, teachers, or both toward praise andother rewards. The British studies suggest that adolescents may prefer pri-vate adult praise, positive letters home, and free time, with ninth-gradestudents also expressing high preferences for edibles and small gifts. Wanand Salili found greater support for adult public praise.

    The purpose of the current study was to initiate a research literature ex-amining the acceptability of rewards that might be earned by students inhigh school settings. Specifically, the intent was to determine whether re-wards exist that might be used to encourage improved school performancewhile simultaneously being considered highly acceptable to teachers, ad-ministrators, parents, and students. If such rewards could be identified,they would be of significant utility for consultants as they design behav-ioral programs for high school students.

    METHOD

    Participants

    Participants were drawn from a small, suburban, predominantly White,Midwestern school

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