Title: Designing, Applying, and Evaluating a Self-Modification Program
Format and Length: The completed assignment will be in essay format with clear
introductory and concluding paragraphs but no subheadings. It will be 6- 7 double-spaced typed pages and have additional title, reference, and appendix (tables, charts, etc.) pages.
Instructions: All of us have behaviours that we would like to change. We might want to
stop biting our nails, reduce the number of energy drinks we drink or study more. This assignment requires that you design, apply, and evaluate a self-modification program:
1) Begin by reading Personal Application: Achieving Self-Control Through Behaviour Modification appearing in chapter six of the Weiten & McCann text (p. 292-295);
2) Choose a behaviour that you would like to increase or decrease;
3) Follow the five steps outlined;
4) Write your essay covering all five steps;
5) Submit your paper to me personally.
Behaviours for the project include:(choose one behaviour)
• decreasing coffee, energy drink, or pop consumption
• increasing studying
• decreasing nail biting
• decreasing TV/video watching, gaming, or web surfing
• increasing activity level
Essay Assignment (Fall, 2015): Purpose, Expectations, and Evaluation Criteria
Purpose: The essay topic was developed to accomplish a number of objectives,
including: 1) to facilitate a better understanding of the terminology, key concepts, and processes of operant conditioning; 2) to demonstrate the practical applications of operant conditioning theory; 3) to provide students with an opportunity to change their own behaviour in a systematic, meaningful way; and 4) to allow students to evaluate the successes and challenges of self-modification.
Format: The completed assignment must be in essay format with no subheadings. It
will include: 1) a title page with the title of the essay, student’s name, course name, professor’s name, and due date; 2) an appendix page containing at least one graph clearly showing baseline data and program results (additional graphs, charts, or tables must be well-labeled and relevant); 3) a reference page with at least the course textbook listing.
Preparation: You are expected to do the following in preparation for this essay:
• Review chapter 6 material on operant conditioning, p. 262-277.
• Read Achieving self-control through behaviour modification, p. 292-295.
• Attend the lecture on Learning.
• Choose a behaviour that you would like to increase or decrease, making sure that this target behaviour is clearly defined, overt, and measurable.
• Gather baseline data by systematically observing and charting the target behaviour for at least four days.
• Note the antecedents that usually precede the target behaviour – what triggers the behaviour that you are trying to change? Under what conditions do you exhibit the undesirable behaviour? Or, under what conditions do you not exhibit the desirable behaviour?
• Note the consequences that follow the target behaviour – what you are getting out of it. Thus, you need to pinpoint the reinforcers that maintain the undesirable behaviour or the unfavorable outcomes that suppress a desirable behaviour.
• Plan the program. To increase a response, you must select a reinforcer that is right for you and decide how you will deliver it. On the other hand, to decrease a response, you must choose a viable strategy. Will you provide yourself with reinforcement for not emitting the behaviour or emitting it less frequently? Will you avoid certain antecedent? Will you employ some form of punishment? Or will you use a combination of these approaches?
• Execute your program and collect data for at least six days.
• Evaluate your program by indicating what went well, what was challenging, and what, in retrospect, you would change if you were to run the program over again.
Content: The essay must begin with a clear introductory paragraph and go on to cover
all five of the self-modification program steps. Specifically, you must 1) identify the target behaviour and indicate why it was chosen; 2) describe the baseline data (noting behavioural antecedents, pre-program level of response, and behavioural consequences); 3) outline the program design; 4) discuss the implementation of the program and 5) critically evaluate the program upon completion.
Evaluation: This essay is worth 25% of the student’s final grade and will be graded out
of 25 points, assigned as follows:
2 – for well-written introductory paragraph
1 – Step 1: for selecting appropriate target behaviour and justifying
5 – Step 2: for discussing level/frequency of pre-program target
behaviour, with reference to the controlling antecedents and controlling consequences of the behaviour
4 – Step 3: for designing a thoughtful self-modification program
3 – Step 4: for discussing program execution
5 – Step 5: for critically evaluating program, including discussion of
successes and possible improvements
2 – for well-written concluding paragraph
1 – for clear, well-labeled graph(s), chart(s), and/or table(s)
2 – Grammar, spelling and proper citations (APA format)
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