NASP Member Exchange

1.  Motivation Scales

Posted 08-22-2014 13:50
I am looking for a student motivation rating scale that is to be completed by the classroom (elementary grades) teacher. Does anyone have a suggestion or has anyone used one that they could recommend?
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Jan Pfeiffer NCSP
Leon Co. Schools
Tallahassee FL
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2.  RE:Motivation Scales

Posted 08-25-2014 09:03
Hi Jan,

I have used the "Schoolwork Motivation Assessment" as a brief behavior analysis of motivation to help determine can't do vs won't do. The Schoolwork Motivation Assessment is most effective for basic skill areas. It is not a teacher rating scale but you obtain information about a student's motivation by collaborating with the classroom teacher and directly assessing the student using CBM probes of basic skills.

Schoolwork Motivation Assessment (adapted from Witt & Beck, 1999; Witt,
VanDerHeyden & Gilbertson, 2004)
http://www.jimwrightonline.com/pdfdocs/NH/A_Chap_4_motivation_assessment_form.PDF

Tools to Measure Student Motivation
http://www.jimwrightonline.com/ppt/mspa08/motivation_Assessment.ppt

How Do We Know Whether Motivation is a Barrier to Learning?: Student Motivation Assessment
http://www.jimwrightonline.com/ppt/NASP/motivation/NASP_07_motiv_assessment.ppt

Six Reasons Why Students Are Unmotivated (and What Teachers Can Do)
Jim Wright, Presenter
http://www.fehb.org/CSE/CCSEConference2012/wright_CCSE_Conference_Breakout_Motiv_Students_15_Mar_2012.pdf

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Joann Chiappetta Baumgardner, Ph.D.
School Psychologist
Richfield Public Schools
Richfield, MN
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3.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-25-2014 10:27
Hi Jan,

My answer is perhaps not what you're looking for, but as you know, motivation is internal.  As such, it's not directly observable, and can only be inferred from a student's behavior.  There are plenty of teacher questionnaires that will tell you all about a student's behavior. However, regarding motivation, in my experience, teachers are not especially accurate in inferring a student's motivation.  I have had many teachers say a student was "lazy" or was "choosing" to behave in an inappropriate way, but when I dug deeper, that was not the case at all.  I believe in Ross Greene's philosophy that, "Kids do well if they can."  His books are excellent if you want ways of changing behavior in students with explosive outbursts, although they are equally effective with all kinds of behaviors.  If you are looking for a system that a teacher can use with an entire class to increase students' internal motivation, I would recommend Marvin Marshall's "Raise Responsibility System" as described in his book "Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards."  As we all know, using external incentives only creates external motivation.   Unfortunately, this leads to incentive-dependent behavior, and using incentives effectively becomes more and more difficult as students get older.  Incentives are not effective with any age if we can't figure out the right reward or consequence for a particular child.  More importantly, external incentives do nothing to teach the child the missing skills that are often the underlying cause, nor do incentives teach the child about how to be responsible and self-disciplined,  Ross Greene ("Lost At School") has a good checklist of missing/lagging skills (first link), whereas Marshall uses a classroom-wide system to develop internal motivation to be responsible.  The 2nd link is a brief description of Marshall's distinction between the 2 types of motivation and from that page, you can click on links for more info and/or his book.  

http://www.livesinthebalance.org/sites/default/files/ALSUP Rev 11-12-12 pdf (2).pdf


http://marvinmarshall.com/learning/behaviorisim-and-internal-vs-external-motivation/


Hopefully self-motivatedly yours,
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Shawn O'Brien, Psy.D., NCSP
North Attleboro, MA
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4.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-26-2014 10:41
Jan - Joann's suggestions are great and what I would focus on. However, to answer your question, one brief teacher-completed rating scale that gets at the idea of motivation and other academic behaviors is the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales (DiPerna & Elliott). This will give you a starting place, basically a quantification of the teacher's opinion of the student's motivation, but as Joann suggests, direct observation and testing will result in the most accurate data.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to disagree with Shawn's response and plead that no one spend any time on Marvin Marshall's webpage or work. He clearly has a limited understanding of applied behavior analysis, when he says that "The essence of behavior modification is to reward desired behavior and ignore undesired behavior." That is either a deliberate misrepresentation and over simplification by someone with something against the most research-supported methodology of behavior change or simply a statement by someone who has experienced poorly executed "ABA" lacking treatment fidelity and has a limited understanding of the science of behavior change. There are very limited situations in which a problem behavior would be ignored, not in all situations as Marshall suggests. The very fact that he starts off by referring to Pavlov is silly and ridiculous. Classical conditioning is not used in practice and is only mentioned to invoke an association between ABA and salivating dogs. And Marshall claims that many research studies have shown behavior modification to be ineffective, yet does not provide any citations for the research he is referring to, nor does he present any research supporting his claims about "internal" and "external" motivation. Until we are all working for the simple joy of making a difference, and without monetary reward, we cannot pretend like external reinforcers are not effective. Any plan that results in dependency on reinforcement is a plan that was not well formulated and did not consider generalization of skills and fading of reinforcement. External reinforcement allows individuals to learn new behaviors, thereby experiencing "internal" reinforcement, which by the way Marshall also says doesn't exist ("All behavior modification relies on an external stimulus"). Clearly he has never heard of automatic reinforcement, self-reinforcement, or what Skinner referred to as "private events", which controls much of our verbal behavior day to day. I could go on...

If you want to pay a lot of money to use Marshall's system based on his theories, philosophy, and limited understanding of behavior analysis, I think he's selling staff training for around $1200. If, on the other hand, you want to use effective, research-supported behavioral procedures to effect lasting behavior change, research is available for free at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1938-3703/issues all the way back to 1968. If you are interested in learning more about motivation, look for research by Jack Michael and others on Motivating Operations.

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Kevin Kuhn NCSP
School Psychologist
Eastern Lancaster County School District
New Holland PA
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5.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-27-2014 12:59
Hi Kevin,

Our friendly debate continues!  As for Marvin Marshall, yeah, you're right, his program is expensive, and that irks me too.  But you don't need to pay him to implement it.  The relatively inexpensive book alone provides sufficient information, and he has a lot of free stuff on his web site to supplement the book, and he also does pro bono training for poorer school districts.  As for his program not having research to back it up, it is like many reading programs that are "evidence based."  The program itself was never researched, but uses strategies that HAVE been researched.   He did not invent a single strategy himself, but relied on other proven strategies and put them into one package.  

But one of the major points I was making, but maybe not making well enough, is that ABA or any incentive system does not teach missing skills, which is very often a primary cause of behavior problems, whether "acting out" behavior, or "lack of motivation" behavior.  I usually hear teachers refer to the latter as "laziness," which related to another point I was making, which was that I have had a lot of experience in which teachers provided me with a student's motivation from their point of view that was totally inaccurate, and therefore, I would not rely on them to determine a student's MOTIVATION, but rather, I would only gather information about a student's BEHAVIOR from them, and the antecedents for that behavior.  See, I'm not against THAT part of ABA! :)  Patterns in antecedents can provide great clues for determining what skills are missing, whether they be academic or skills on Ross Greene's list that I provided.  Joann also provided great resources for looking at missing academic skills.  I think we've all seen a lot of behavior and/or motivational problems when students are being given materials that are at their frustration (rather than instructional) level, which happens far too often in our schools, with the huge emphasis on high-stakes testing.

Speaking of Ross Greene, he provides a great discussion, with research citations, in his book "Treating Explosive Kids," as to why incentive based programs are often ineffective, especially long term, particularly with challenging students.  Part of the reason is that they do not teach missing skills, but there are also often problems with implementation, which is the other obstacle that I see with ABA.  I'm not saying it should never be used in schools, especially the antecedent part.  But it is very labor intense for a method dealing with just ONE student, and is often not necessary to effectively deal with the problem, especially with students with an ability to communicate. We have so many kids with problems these days, we'd sure need a LOT more school psychs if we were to implement ABA with every student not meeting behavioral expectations.  I think classroom wide strategies are more time efficient if they are effective, and if you don't like Marvin Marshall, then let me recommend Ross Greene's book, "Lost at School."  His case examples are dealing with individual students, but he also recommends using the strategies class wide as a Tier 1 intervention (via weekly class meetings).  He does not focus on rewards and consequences, recognizing they don't teach missing skills, and also due to the problems inherent with coercive approaches.  (Yes, rewards can be coercive, even if nicely so).  Oh, and yes, he does have lots of research.  The main problem with doing ABA with every student who does not meet our expectations, as I see it, is a problem in implementation.  For all the reasons behind that, I would refer you to a great article in the latest Communique', "Evidence-Based Interventions: Necessary but not Sufficient for a Profession of Scientist-Practitioners."

For those who still prefer to use rewards, I would remind folks that they only work for "won't do" problems, and they do not work for "can't do" problems.  Too often, teachers will tell you it's a "won't do" when it's really a "can't do."  If it really is a "won't do" problem and you want to use rewards to increase motivation (we won't argue about whether it's internal or external), then I would recommend knowing the research behind potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, which you can find in the article in the link below.  This will take you to the abstract, and from there, you can download the full article in the upper right corner.  

http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED532671


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Shawn O'Brien, Psy.D., NCSP
North Attleboro, MA
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6.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-27-2014 17:04
Shawn,

My objection to Marshall was less about the cost of his program and more about the content of his program and website.

I understand where you are coming from with your points, but I think you are speaking from a very limited or narrow perspective on what Applied Behavior Analysis is. Although ABA is often single-subject, it is not limited to that. Organizational Behavior Management uses principles of behavior to increase productivity, safety, and morale. School-Wide Positive Behavior Support, although not purely ABA, came out of ABA and obviously is school-wide. Group contingencies are relatively well-researched in peer-reviewed ABA journals such as JABA. ABA is about far more than just single-subject reinforcement and punishment. If you don't believe me, please read the 700+ pages of "Applied Behavior Analysis" by Cooper, Heron, and Heward. The problems you describe exist, but it isn't because of a problem with ABA, but rather a problem with the implementation of ABA. So let me try to address some of the issues you raise:

Motivation - I like your focus on a need for a multi-faceted approach to motivation. You mentioned the "can't do versus won't do". This is so important to consider, but I would like to put a slightly different twist on it and talk about expectancy of success versus value placed upon success (The terms "value" and "expectancy" or the "Value x Expectancy model" come from Randall Sprick, and he got it from a book called "Expectations and Actions" edited by Feather, 1982). I think value and expectancy are more positive and accurate ways of thinking about a motivation problem. Motivating Operations (MO) are the changes in the environment that increase or decrease the momentary reinforcing effectiveness of a given consequence in the presence of an Sd. The last part is key to the point that you are (and I am) making. The first part speaks about value, or won't do, and that is what we all often assume initially. The student doesn't value a behavior or task and therefore won't do it. However, the presence of an Sd is also necessary. This means there needs to be some signal that reinforcement is available (Sd - Discriminative Stimulus). For a student, this is where an expectancy of success becomes crucial. If the student does not expect that success is possible (either because of a past pattern of failure or because of lack of skills), then motivation is essentially zero. An Sd could be a positive teacher who believes in the student, curriculum that is chunked into manageable pieces, or curriculum that is more accurately matched to the student's skill level; all could increase the student's expectancy of success and therefore motivation. Here's an example of what I'm talking about using an unconditioned motivating operation, thirst, as an example (UMOs are typically easier to understand). I am deprived of water (MO - increases temporary value of water as a reinforcer). If I see a water fountain (Sd), I will walk over and push the button to drink and be reinforced until I am no longer thirsty (AO). However, no matter how thirsty I am (value of water), I will not walk over to blank walls and push nonexistent buttons, because the Sd is not present, I have no expectancy of success for producing water from a blank wall. By the way, MO, Sd, and related terms are all from behaviorism, and describe what you are talking about. It is essential that we consider not just value as motivation, but also expectancy of success, so we agree there.

Teaching New Skills - I completely disagree that ABA cannot teach new skills. That is precisely what shaping procedures do. Again, I understand what you are getting at, but I think it is, again, a very narrow perspective of what ABA is. In fact, ABA can teach completely new, complicated behavior chains without any instruction at all, as Skinner showed with pigeons (pigeons don't understand vocal instruction of course, and were trained to do all sorts of new behaviors using shaping). Now, we are much more complex than pigeons, and so are the behavior repertoires that we are required to learn. Since humans have verbal behavior, we can be taught new skills vocally, but this is still essentially a shaping procedure. To teach reading, we first start with basic skills; success is reinforced through verbal praise, tangible reward, attention, grades, and self-reinforcement; later on we differentially reinforce more complex reading behaviors, but withhold reinforcement for basic reading skills. A 5th grader reading on a 5th-grade reading level is no longer reinforced for reading CVC words, but now is expected to read chapters in books in order to be reinforced. This is shaping, and it is how ABA teaches new skills (and how anyone learns any new skill).

Reinforcement Dependence - This is a hypothetical concern that is typically suggested by people who do not fully understand ABA and/or are inherently against it. As I said yesterday, if a plan does not consider generalization of skills and fading of reinforcement, it is not a good plan. Any "external" reinforcement should be paired with socially-delivered reinforcement, such as verbal praise. Schedules of reinforcement should be considered and fading should be mapped out. Self-reinforcement should be taught to take the place of "external" reinforcement. Etc. But once again, I am assuming you are in a paid position somewhere, as most of us are. And if I stopped getting paid, after an initial extinction burst, I'd probably stop coming to work, or at least come a lot less consistently. You also mentioned that reinforcement is coercive, so am I to assume you were coerced into coming to work today? Reinforcement is as coercive as academic instruction is; we want the student to perform some skill, and we set up an environment where the skill is taught, and learning and mastering the skill is reinforced. Let us not forget the great token economy of education, where learning is reinforced with arbitrary letters and numbers (grades and credits), that, if enough are collected, can ultimately be turned in for an otherwise worthless piece of paper (called a diploma), which can then be shown to prospective employers in order to be hired, so that you can receive a paycheck, and ultimately buy food to abate your hunger.

Hopefully I've made sense here. My main concern is that we have an effective science of behavior that can make a real difference in peoples' lives, but it is often misused or misunderstood, leading to inappropriate assertions of ineffectiveness and use of other, far less effective treatments. ABA is not all about external consequences. It is far more than that, as Skinner taught in Verbal Behavior and discussions on radical behaviorism. Getting back to the original issue of motivation, I totally agree with your point that more than just value must be considered. MO and Sd both need to be considered in order to fully understand motivation, and far too often a lack of MO is assumed to be the issue when in fact there is no Sd and therefore no expectancy of success.

Thanks for the discussion,

Kevin
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Kevin Kuhn NCSP
School Psychologist
Eastern Lancaster County School District
New Holland PA
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7.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-28-2014 13:06
I'm sorry, earlier I sent the wrong link. Wiley no longer has JABA available for free for some reason, but you can still access JABA here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/journals/309/ along with many other excellent journals.

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Kevin Kuhn NCSP
School Psychologist
Eastern Lancaster County School District
New Holland PA
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8.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 09-01-2014 15:08
Hi again Jan,

Despite our debate, Kevin and I actually agree on quite a few things.  One of those (I think) is that a student must experience success to remain motivated.  Success is highly reinforcing (this is where Kevin and I use the same language)!  :)  A common problem with many students who appear to be unmotivated is that they often have not experienced much success in school.  In the words of the "Value x Expectancy" model, such students don't expect success, even if they value it and even when in the presence of an Sd, so they don't bother to put forth much effort.  In the words of "Locus of Control" theory, they've developed an external locus of control, and so even if they do experience success now and then, they attribute it to luck and not their own effort.  So I think Kevin and I would both agree that one of our major priorities should be to help the teacher ensure that tasks are structured in such a way that the student will experience success (e.g., ensure all tasks presented are at the student's instructional level; break down tasks into smaller, manageable units; teach classroom procedures explicitly; teach missing skills and subskills explicitly, etc.)  When the student experiences success, provide the student with descriptive praise (concrete performance feedback) that describes exactly what the student DID to lead to that success.  There's also an excellent article in the latest Communique' (Sept. issue) that is highly relevant to motivation, although that is not apparent from its title, "Academically At-Risk Students and Mental Health Issues: Information for Educators," by Stephen Shaw (reprinted from "Helping Children at Home and School III").  It discusses factors associated with academic failure and loss of motivation and how they can be addressed.  Although it does not identify a structured motivational assessment, one could easily use it as a template for variables that should be assessed when evaluating motivational deficits.  

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Shawn O'Brien, Psy.D., NCSP
North Attleboro, MA
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9.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-27-2014 14:54
I am not familiar with the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales. Would anyone be willing to share more information?  I would like to learn more before deciding to purchase.

Thank you,
Stacy

stacy.alexander@miami.k12.oh.us
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Stacy Alexander NCSP
School Psychologist
Miami County ESC
Dayton OH
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10.  RE: Motivation Scales

Posted 08-27-2014 17:04
It is a criterion-referenced rating scale completed by teachers or students (the About My Learning version) looking at academic skills (reading, math, critical thinking) and "Academic Enablers" (Motivation, Interpersonal Skills, Engagement, and Study Skills). It distinguishes between performance problems (MO, value, or won't do) and acquisition problems (Sd, expectancy, can't do) and has an additional resource you can purchase with it called the AIMS (Academic Intervention Monitoring System). I do not use the AIMS, but will use the ACES as a screening tool in early stages of intervention planning. As with all rating scales, however, you always have to remember that it is simply a quantification of someone's opinion of behavior.

73 items, scores are summarized as "Developing", "Competent", or "Advanced" based on cut scores. If you contact DiPerna or Elliott, I bet they'd give you any more information you need. And here's the link to Pearson: http://www.pearsonclinical.com/education/products/100000402/academic-competence-evaluation-scales-aces.html

Kevin
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Kevin Kuhn NCSP
School Psychologist
Eastern Lancaster County School District
New Holland PA
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