Overcorrection and Positive Practice
Overcorrection is punishment. It is the application of a negative event or the removal of a negative event. It has been used to reduce disruptive, annoying, and self-injurious behaviors. Its success may be attributed to: restitution, positive practice, avoidance, time-out, or punishment.
Overcorrection consists of restitutional overcorrection and/or positive practice overcorrection. It combines the reductive effects of punishment and the educative effects of positive practice.
Restitution is based on having the person do what a normal individual might do to correct a situation. Knocking over a persons drink. Buying them a new one. Restitution helps the individual experience the effort needed to restore the damage and may cause them not to repeat the behavior because of the inconvenience of correcting or rectifying the situation. This may cause the person to realize that time and effort are needed to correct irresponsible action. Combine this with a caring atmoshpere and the person may decide to take responsibility for his/her actions. This makes this form of punishment better than other forms because of the intention to teach appropriate behavior and responsibility for ones actions.
Restitutional overcorrection is were the person corrects the consequences of their misbehavior by restoring the situation to an improved state from before the event. Removing gum under a desk where the student placed theirs is restitution. However, removing gum from under all desks is restitutional overcorrection. A person who upsets a chair while sitting down. Restitutional overcorrection would be to have s/he straighten all the chairs in the classroom.
Positive practice overcorrection is where the person practices an activity with the appropriate behavior. Repeatedly removing gum from their mouth, wrapping it in paper, and placing it into the trash container. For upsetting a chair the person would be required to practice the appropriate steps of being seated. It relies on having the person do what a normal individual might do to avoid the situation.
Whether the design is restitutional or positive practice it could also include a positive social aspect. This aspect should be carefully considered. If the person repeatedly engages in the self limiting behavior, then it may continue because the person is being reinforced by the attention from the restitutional or positive practice.
- Continuously monitor and provide prompts during restitution or positive practice.
- If the behavior occurs at a high rate, then reduction with overcorrection may take too long. Consider DRI.
- The person may refuse to cooperate, may be disruptive: cry, scream, whine. This can be reduced by being prepared, offering Hobson choices, or having students setting overcorrection as part of their goal for changing a behavior. Use positive verbal prompts and authority statements. Use time-out first or during overcorrection if there is disruptions. Consistent application will help reduce problems.
- Sometimes the selection of restitutional and positive practice activities are difficult or impossible. What kind of activity would you suggest for people who give bear hugs and kisses?
- Overcorrection could increase the inappropriate. One study Measel and Alfieri (1976) found that when a head banging behavior attempted to be reduced by overcorrection with a series of head movements forward, back, right, and left, the behavior was increased. This is where collection of data is vital.
- Be aware of an increase of collateral behaviors.
- Make the practice as closely related to the type of misbehavior as possible. If consume another person's food, they may not be able to replace it but they could replace it with another food item. A child may break an item in the classroom and may not be able to replace it, but s/he could pick up the pieces. Students vandalize a building could clean it up for the restitutional part and for the positive practice part could clean classrooms or improve the grounds or buildings.
- Whenever possible reinforce incompatible behavior.
- Keep records.
- Do not reinforce behaviors during overcorrection.
Other Interventions related to overcorrection
Negative practice is the opposite of overcorrection the individual is required to perform the self limiting behavior repeatedly. Student who continually taps her pencil during class. During recess have the student repeatedly tap on her desk with her pencil while saying, "This is what I am not supposed to." for five minutes.
Quiet training and relaxation training are similar. A person is required to sit or lie down and/or engage in a relaxation procedure. A person might use this as they feel a problem is about to occur or they might use it to stop a violent behavior. This procedure is close to time out and could be used prior to overcorrection.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & W. L. Heward. (1987) Applied behavior analysis. Columbus: OH. Merrill Publishing Co.
Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©