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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Good Behavior Game - Topic 42

What is it?

The good behavior game is a group-contingency classroom management procedure designed to reduce problem behaviors. Before implementing the teacher first should (a) identify and operationally define up to 3 behaviors targeted for change (e.g., talking out, out-of-seat, aggression); (b) assign students to one of three to four heterogeneous teams based on both internalizing and externalizing behaviors; (c) collect baseline data on team behavior to ensure that teams have similar base rates of behavior; and (d) reorganize teams if needed based on baseline data that show significant differences in behavior between groups.

The teacher first describes the game and provides examples and nonexamples of the behaviors. Each team may appoint a leader and assign a group name. The teacher then tells the students that groups that receive fewer than a certain number of check marks (e.g., 5 during a 15 minute session) may receive a predetermined reward at the end of the activity. Throughout the activity the teacher monitors students for occurrences of the targeted behaviors. If a student displays any one of the targeted behaviors, they earn a check mark for their team, therefore holding the group responsible for the behavior of each member. If all the groups exceed the determined number of checks, then the group with the fewest marks wins the reward. Team leaders are then responsible for dispensing awards to their team members and marking the team’s reward on a progress chart. Once students become familiar with the game, the teacher may begin the game unannounced at any time, thus teaching the students to consistently self-monitor their behavior.

Why is it important?

This strategy has had positive effects on a variety of developmental outcomes including proximal decreases in disruptive behavior, increases in prosocial behavior, and more distal outcomes such as decreasing problem behavior, drug and alcohol use in young adulthood.


Tingstrom, D. H., Sterling-Turner, H.E., & Wilczynski, S.M. (2006).  Good behavior game: 1969-2002.

Behavior Modification, 30(2), 225-253. Doi: 10.1177/0145445503261165

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