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School Psychology International

2014, Vol. 35(2) 191–205

! The Author(s) 2013

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DOI: 10.1177/0143034312471473

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Article

The Good
Behavior Game:
A classroom-behavior
intervention effective
across cultures

Julene D. Nolan
Minnesota State University, USA

Daniel Houlihan
Minnesota State University, USA

Megan Wanzek
University of Utah, USA

William R. Jenson
University of Utah, USA

Abstract

Few classroom behavioral interventions have been thoroughly studied using culturally

and linguistically diverse populations, international student populations, or those from

diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Yet, having such tools for school psychologists

and teachers is critical for behavior management in the classroom. One important

exception is the Good Behavior Game, which has been extensively studied both in

the United States and international settings. Because this intervention is based on well-

tested principles of behavior theory, it has proven to be a useful tool across cultural,

linguistic, socio-economic traditions, with long lasting positive longitudinal behavior

change. This article presents a review of the literature on the Good Behavior Game

as it applies to international and diverse student populations.

Keywords

Classroom intervention, diverse classrooms, good behavior game, international

student populations, problem behavior

Corresponding author:

Daniel Houlihan, Department of Psychology, Box AH-23, Armstrong Hall, Minnesota State University,

Mankato, MN 56001 USA.

Email: daniel.houlihan@mnsu.edu

http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1177%2F0143034312471473&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2013-01-09

A classroom behavior intervention effective across cultures

The importance of having classroom management tools that are effective across
cultural and linguistic traditions cannot be overstated. The existence of aggressive
and inappropriate behaviors in schools is a universally noted phenomenon that has
been witnessed in far reaching regions (Malete, 2007). Recent studies have noted
changes in social skills and development as well as the incorporation of recent
technologies (e.g. cyberbullying) into aberrant behavioral repertoires world-wide
(Larsen & Samdal, 2011; Sakellariou, Carroll, & Houghton, 2012). As noted by
Lee, Oakland, and Ahn (2010), it is necessary to make an effort to understand at
the international level factors that contribute to differences in temperament and
behavior globally, as well as developing and implementing effective treatments. The
challenges of natural disaster, political shifts, or sudden and dramatic changes
socially and economically can all lead to periodic increases in behavioral problems
in schools (Widyatmoko, Tan, Seyle, Mayawati, & Silver, 2011). The global imple-
mentation of empirical research studies and the subsequent dissemination of out-
comes amongst professionals working in schools is an important first step to
solutions that can be implemented nationally (Mcloughlin, Zhou, & Clark,
2005). The Good Behavior Game (GBG) has been tested internationally with cul-
turally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse student populations and has
demonstrated a consistent pattern of experimental success (Gu, Lai, & Ye, 2011;
Thuen & Bru, 2009; Tingstrom, Sterling-Turner, & Wilczynski, 2006). This class-
room management tool has been tested in dozens of studies in the United States of
America (USA), across a variety of settings that included cohorts of culturally,
linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students and those with disabilities. In
addition, it has been tested internationally in Germany (Huber, 1979), Sudan
(Saigh & Umar, 1983), Belgium (Leflot, van Lier, Onghena, & Colpin, 2010),
The Netherlands (van Lier, van der Sar, Muthen, & Crijnen, 2004), The United
Kingdom (Phillips & Christie, 1986), Spain (Coronado-Hijón, 2009; Ruiz-Olivares,
Pino, & Herruzo, 2010), Chile (Pérez, Rodrı́guez, De la Barra, & Fernández, 2005;
Pérez, Rodrı́guez, Fernández, & de la Barra, 2005), British Columbia (Kosiec,
Czernicki, & McLaughlin, 1986) and Quebec (Dion, Roux, Landry, Fuchs,
Wehby, & Dupéré, 2011). All of the research using the GBG indicates that it is
an effective tool for behavior change in the classroom.

Further, there is evidence longitudinally that students who participated in the
GBG in elementary school experienced reduction in their externalizing behaviors
(Pérez, Rodrı́guez, De la Barra, & Fernández, 2005; Pérez, Rodrı́guez, Fernández,
& de la Barra, 2005; Petras et al., 2008; van Lier et al., 2004; Witvliet, van Lier,
Cuijpers, & Koot 2009), mental health issues (Huizink, van Lier, & Crijnen, 2009;
Wilcox et al., 2008), attention problems (Dion et al., 2011), and show improved
outcomes in academic performance (Bradshaw, Zmuda, Kellam, & Ialongo, 2009)
as adolescents and adults. These behavioral changes are in evidence across nations,
cultures, and languages, indicating that the GBG is an internationally effective tool
for school psychologists to use in improving classroom management.

192 School Psychology International 35(2)

History

As noted by Tingstrom et al. (2006), GBG was first introduced in 1969 as a behav-
ioral intervention employing interdependent contingency management in a group
situation. In interdependent contingency management, all participants have access
to the same reinforcement based on the collective behavior of the group. Thus, even
if one participant does not reach the criterion individually, he/she would have
access to the reinforcement providing that the group met the criterion. A typical
use of the GBG includes a classroom situation in which identified inappropriate
behaviors (e.g. out of seat behavior, talking out of turn, etc.) are monitored. As
long as the set criterion is achieved, (e.g. no more than five incidents of the targeted
behavior) the entire classroom is rewarded (e.g. extra minutes of recess).

The GBG has been used in dozens of research articles and has been modified
many times to accommodate different situations. In many applications of the
GBG, a classroom was divided into two teams and each team received a mark
on the board when the teacher observed a targeted undesired behavior (Tingstrom
et al., 2006). The team with the fewest rule violations received the reinforcement, or
if neither team received more than five rule violation marks, they both qualified.
Since that time, the GBG has been used in single-case research studies using well
designed behavioral research methodology, involving phase changes, multiple base-
line methods, changing criterion designs, and combined approaches (Tingstrom
et al., 2006).

In the Tingstrom et al. (2006) review of research using the GBG from 1969–
2002, the authors reported that the GBG had been used successfully in its original
form and in numerous modifications. Reducing disruptive behavior as well as
increasing pro-social behavior, such as improving oral hygiene and increasing aca-
demic behavior, have been common applications of the GBG. Typically, the GBG
is used in a classroom setting with children in grades 1–6, but it has also been
employed with preschoolers, kindergarteners, and adolescents.

Research is currently beginning to investigate the GBG and its effect on teacher
behavior, including the monitoring of positive, neutral, and negative teacher
responses to child behavior (Lannie & McCurdy, 2007). Additionally, a version
of GBG in which positive rather than negative behaviors are monitored and
rewarded shows promise as an additional and preferred iteration of this technique
(Tanol, Johnson, McComas, & Cote, 2010). The GBG has been endorsed as a best
practice technique (Osher, Baer, Sprague, & Doyle, 2010; Simonsen, Fairbanks,
Briesch, Myers, & Sugai, 2008). Embry (2002) has noted that the GBG has been
successfully replicated in 20 independent studies. Embry has also referred to the
GBG as a ‘behavioral vaccine’ because of its ability to have positive effects beyond
the original target behaviors to other related anti-social behaviors over significant
periods of time. Although this body of research represents a solid, defensible argu-
ment for the GBG as an effective intervention in classrooms, the more convincing
evidence is that which represents the application of the GBG across diverse student
populations.

Nolan et al. 193

GBG applied internationally

Some of the earliest evidence of the use of GBG with international populations was
a study conducted by Huber in 1979. In this study using fourth grade German
students in a summer remedial class, the researcher demonstrated a significant
reduction in high frequency disruptive behavior including aggressive behavior,
talking back, and out of seat behavior. This early study emphasized the GBG
temporary behavior change effects and also its application with an international
population of students. Later research by Phillips and Christie (1986) demonstrated
significant decrease in off-task behavior for adolescent students using the GBG in
the United Kingdom. Additionally, a study with fourth and sixth grade students in
British Columbia, Canada, produced a significant reduction in inappropriate ver-
balizations in both classrooms (Kosiec et al., 1986). These studies highlight the use
of the GBG as an effective behavioral intervention with several international
populations.

The influence of the GBG was investigated longitudinally in a series of studies
conducted in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (van Lier et al., 2004). Students from 31
first- and second-grade classrooms were randomly assigned to control (N¼ 295) or
GBG treatment (N¼ 371) condition. Treatment was delivered in second and third
grades and the students were followed longitudinally. In the first publication with
this cohort, researchers reported that Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADH)
symptoms were significantly reduced in the treatment compared to the control
condition. Additionally, a predicted trajectory was estimated for students display-
ing ADH symptoms from first to third grade. These students were divided into
three classes for analysis (Class 1 had high trajectory of ADH symptoms, Class 2
had intermediate trajectory, Class 3 had low trajectory). Intermediate trajectory
(Class 2) students who received GBG treatment showed ADH symptoms below
their anticipated trajectory as compared to the control group. Oppositional-defiant
(OD) behaviors were also measured and trajectories estimated for the students in
the same way. The GBG treatment demonstrated a significant preventative effect in
the development of OD behaviors for students in the high and intermediate tra-
jectory classes (van Lier et al., 2004). The van Lier et al. (2004) study is particularly
important because of meeting the evidence based practice standard of randomly
assigning a relatively large number of subjects to control and active treatment
groups; its replication with another culture, and its demonstrated effectiveness
over time.

In a subsequent publication, the Netherlands researchers reported on assessment
of peer nominations of antisocial behavior and peer rejection during the four-year
period of the initial research with the same population. Children who were pro-
jected to display antisocial behavior but received the GBG treatment showed large
reductions in antisocial behavior and an associated decrease in peer rejection when
compared to children in the control condition (van Lier, Vuijk, & Crijnen, 2005).
This indicates that the GBG is an effective preventative measure to reduce anti-
social behavior and peer rejection.

194 School Psychology International 35(2)

Huizink et al. (2009) investigated the same population longitudinally to deter-
mine if participation in the GBG for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADH) in
third grade mediated onset of smoking at ages 10 and 11 years, as research indi-
cates that ADH is predictive of early onset smoking. These researchers found that
participants in the GBG treatment condition in second and third grade reported
lower early onset tobacco use. It is interesting to note, that when parental prenatal
smoking was controlled for, this effect was still evident.

In 2009, Witvliet and colleagues examined gender differences and the link
between positive peer relations and externalizing problems in 825 Kindergarten
students from 30 elementary schools in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They
found that students in the GBG treatment condition had lower levels of externaliz-
ing behavior and higher scores on positive peer relations as opposed to students in
the control condition who showed no difference from baseline levels on both meas-
ures. They further found that reduced externalizing behavior is partially mediated
by improvements in peer acceptance, but this result was found only in boys. This
extensive and longitudinal research conducted in Rotterdam, The Netherlands,
indicated that the GBG is an effective tool to reduce undesired classroom behavior,
as well as an effective prevention program to reduce early onset smoking, antisocial
behavior, and peer rejection with international student populations.

Another Western European study conducted in Belgium used the GBG with 570
elementary students throughout second and third grade (Leflot et al., 2010). These
students lived in rural to moderately urban areas and were primarily Flemish
speaking. The version of the GBG used in this study was the Dutch version,
which reinforces pro-social behavior by praising children who follow rules and
removing cards for rule breakers, but giving no further attention to the antisocial
behavior. Teachers in the intervention condition reported lower use of negative
remarks, increased on-task behavior, and decreased talking out behavior.

These researchers further demonstrated that improved classroom behavior
mediates development of hyperactive and oppositional behavior (Leflot et al.,
2010). At the end of third grade, the GBG treatment had a marginally significant
impact on slowing the growth of hyperactive and oppositional behavior compared
to the control condition. The GBG also contributed to a reduction in teachers’
negative remarks and an increase in positive remarks. An interesting claim made by
the researchers of this study is that teachers’ classroom management strategies are a
crucial part in the development of hyperactive and oppositional behavior. That is,
if teachers give attention to undesired behavior they reinforce it, making it likely to
become a behavioral pattern over time. Thus the Dutch version of the GBG, which
focuses on positive behaviors, may have the added advantage of reinforcing posi-
tive patters of behaviors in students.

Also in 2010, Ruiz-Olivares and colleagues combined the GBG with another
intervention, Say-Do-Report (S-D-R) Correspondence Training (Ruiz-Olivares
et al., 2010). This intervention was conducted with 15 elementary students in a
rural public school in Southwestern Andalusia (Spain) to reduce disruptive behav-
ior. At the beginning of each game, the teacher would prompt the students through

Nolan et al. 195

reporting what their behavior would look like during that time (i.e. ‘Team 1, are
you going to get up?’, ‘No, we are not going to get up’, ‘Team 1, are you going to
shout?’, ‘No, we are not going to shout’, etc.). This process was repeated for all
target behaviors across all three teams. The students were also instructed that to
win, each team was to receive no more than four marks on the board for disruptive
behavior per game. At the end of each game, the teacher prompted the students
through reporting the behavior they had displayed during the game (i.e. ‘Team 1,
have you gotten up?’ ‘Yes/no, we have/have not gotten up’, ‘Team 1, have you
shouted?’, ‘Yes/no, we have/have not shouted’, etc.). Again, this was repeated for
all target behaviors across all three teams. The results of this study indicated that
this GBG/S-D-R intervention package was effective in significantly reducing the
amount of disruptive behavior in this class. Furthermore, this reduction was main-
tained one year after the intervention package was withdrawn. The authors of this
study suggest that the addition of the S-D-R Correspondence Training may have
led to the enhanced maintenance of appropriate behavior over an extended period
of time.

The results of another study conducted in Spain indicated that when the GBG is
implemented in a secondary education classroom in which the majority of students
display disruptive behavior, significant improvements in behavior were observed
(Coronado-Hijón, 2009). Coronado-Hijón further describes many advantages of
the GBG intervention, such as the relative ease of implementation for teachers as
well as students, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability to a variety of specific groups.

Another series of studies examined the effect of the GBG on the development of
disruptive behavior in early elementary school children in public schools in
Santiago, Chile (Pérez, Rodrı́guez, De la Barra, et al., 2005; Pérez, Rodrı́guez,
Fernández, et al., 2005). In the first study, Pérez, Rodrı́guez, De la Barra, et al.
examined the use of the GBG intervention among a group of students throughout
their first and second grade years. At the end of their second grade year, students
who had previously been identified as consistently displaying aggressive and dis-
ruptive behavior significantly decreased their levels of these challenging behaviors.
Students who had not previously displayed challenging behaviors maintained
appropriate behavior through the end of their second grade year. In a second
quasi-experimental longitudinal design conducted by the same group of researchers
(Pérez, Rodrı́guez, Fernández et al.), a group of third-grade students who received
the GBG intervention during first and second grades was compared to an equiva-
lent control group of children who had not previously received the intervention.
The results of the longitudinal study indicated that when they were observed in
third grade, students who had previously participated in the GBG displayed
decreased levels of aggression, disobedient behavior, cognitive deficiencies, and
emotional immaturity. Pérez and colleagues suggested that aside from the imme-
diate positive behavioral effects, the GBG intervention was additionally related to
preventative and protective factors in the development of problematic behavior.

In addition to addressing behavioral concerns, other researchers have used the
GBG in conjunction with academic interventions (Dion et al., 2011). Dion and

196 School Psychology International 35(2)

colleagues investigated the use of the intervention GBG aimed at improving atten-
tion in conjunction with academic peer tutoring for reading (i.e. First-grade
Reading Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies). Students and teachers from 58 first-
grade classrooms in 30 French-speaking schools in some of Montreal’s most
impoverished neighborhoods participated in this study. Schools were assigned to
one of three groups: A control group, a peer tutoring group, and a peer tutoring
plus GBG group. The results of this study indicated that the GBG significantly
improved student attention during the peer tutoring activities for regular students
(effect size 0.81) and for identified inattentive students (effect size 1.22). However, it
should be noted that students with higher levels of inattention did not also show an
improvement in reading skills when provided with both peer tutoring and GBG
interventions. The authors suggested that students with attention problems may
display additional characteristics that contribute to academic difficulties, such as a
more limited vocabulary and working memory deficits that must also be addressed
in order to effectively improve academic performance.

Although Australian published research on the GBG is limited, Bayer et al.
(2009) conducted an investigation into existing research that used randomized,
controlled trials to determine which interventions would best be used with
Australian children from age 0–8 years. They found the GBG to be one of the
most empirically supported programs for behavioral problems and support its use
in Australian schools. Similarly, Australian researchers Hromek and Roffey (2009)
also support the use of GBG in the classroom, as games are powerful tools to
promote social and emotional learning. These authors maintain that games teach
children cooperation, communication, community, and working for a common
goal. Additionally, these skills are both useful and necessary to some degree
across all cultural and linguistic traditions.

Because of its success in changing behavior in North America and Western
Europe, it is not surprising that the GBG has been proven effective in developed
countries. Even more compelling for the argument of cross-cultural effectiveness of
the GBG is research conducted in developing countries. In 1983, Saigh and Umar
used the traditional form of the GBG in a typical second grade classroom in the
El-Gazera district of Sudan. During instruction in Arabic, the teacher implemented
the GBG by dividing the classroom into two teams and marking on a poster when
behavioral infractions including verbal disruption, physical disruption, or seat
leaving occurred. Because of the limited resources of this school, cost-effective
reinforcers were selected from a preference assessment. These included virtually
cost-free items such as a victory tags, free time, or a star placed by the student’s
name on a winner’s chart. Weekly, the winning team members received a signed
letter commending excellent behavior in the classroom.

Results from this study indicated that the GBG had a significant impact on
reducing disruptive behaviors in the classroom (Saigh & Umar, 1983). When ques-
tioned about its social validity, teachers, students, and parents reported that they
liked the game and found it to be a valuable behavior change tool. In addition to
the cross-cultural effectiveness of the GBG, there are also several other valuable

Nolan et al. 197

reasons for its use. First, the GBG provided a more humane and preferred alter-
native to more punitive traditional discipline in the classroom, which had involved
scolding and spanking. Second, these findings demonstrate the GBG’s effectiveness
in a developing country where teachers and administrators have little training in
behavior theory. Third, this study illustrates that the GBG can be implemented and
show impressive results in a school that has limited financial resources. Finally, it is
important to note that in developing countries, educators, parents, and students
have typically not been exposed to behavior theory or behavior modification.
Additionally, in this study, 80% of the parents of child participants were illiterate.
This study indicated that the effectiveness of the GBG is not dependent upon
prior education or socio-economic status and the body of research internationally
indicates that the GBG is effective across or cultural linguistic traditions.

Diverse populations within USA

In the USA, the GBG has been investigated in urban settings with English as
Second Language (ESL) and socio-economically disadvantaged students.
Babyak, Luze, and Kamp (2010) used a variation of the GBG called the Good
Student Game with ESL and free and reduced lunch student populations. In this
iteration of the GBG, students rather than teachers were responsible for monitor-
ing prosocial behaviors for the group and recording compliance or noncompliance
at set intervals. Teachers also provided feedback when prosocial behavior occurred,
but disruptive or undesired behavior was ignored. Teachers played this game two
to three times during periods in which the most off-task behaviors occurred. If
there were students who tended to sabotage the game, teachers required these
students to work independently and self-monitor their behavior. These researchers
saw in-seat behavior and quiet working behavior increase from 56% to 88% across
three classrooms. Similarly, McGoey, Schneider, Rezzentano, Prodan, and
Tankersly (2010) used the GBG in three general education Kindergarten class-
rooms whose students lived in low socioeconomic (SES) areas in Northeast
Ohio. Students in two of the three classrooms showed moderate improvement in
disruptive classroom behaviors.

Longitudinal studies in the Baltimore, Maryland City Public School System
have followed African American, urban, socioeconomically disadvantaged stu-
dents for three generations (Kellam, Reid, & Balster, 2008). This project sought
to decrease aggressive and disruptive behavior in first and second grade classrooms
with the use of the GBG while improving student’s positive social integration into
school. In the first cohort of this project, teachers implemented the GBG in its
traditional form (Kellam, Ling, Merisca, Brown, & Ialongo, 1998). That is, the
class was divided into teams and classroom rules were posted. The teacher
announced that the game was to be played and check marks were placed next to
the team name on a large poster in front of the room whenever the teacher
observed a rule infraction. Teams with the fewest checkmarks were rewarded at
the end of the week. This game was initially played for ten minutes, three times

198 School Psychology International 35(2)

per week, with time expanded gradually to include the entire school day. The GBG
intervention resulted in reduced aggressive and disruptive behaviors in the target
students.

In addition to the immediate decrease in aggressive and disruptive behaviors, the
Maryland researchers observed other positive influences of the GBG longitudinally
within the same population. Kellam et al. (2008) reported a significant reduction in
drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and antisocial personality problems for boys at
the age of 18 and 19 who had participated in the GBG study in first and second
grade. The GBG had the strongest effect for highest risk youth. This study showed
the importance of the GBG as a first grade, universal intervention on later drug
and alcohol use, smoking, and antisocial personality problems for urban, primarily
African American males from a socioeconomically disadvantaged area in
Baltimore, MD. Because disruptive and aggressive behavior often predicts drug
and alcohol abuse (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004), it is critical to treat
preventatively with a universal intervention like the GBG.

Petras et al. (2008) also looked at antisocial personality disorder and violent
criminal behavior in these cohorts of students from Baltimore. They found that
aggressive and disruptive students who were randomly assigned to the GBG con-
dition in first and second grades were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with
anti-social personality disorder (ASPD) or display violent criminal behavior as
adolescents. Researchers concluded that the GBG is an effective preventive meas-
ure for later difficulties, and is effective for use with minority populations.

Practice cautions

Although the majority of research supports the use of the GBG across diverse
cultural and linguistic traditions, there are certain cautions with the use of the
GBG. Because of the nature of the interdependent contingency, a classroom full
of children can lose access to rewards dependent on the behavior of an individual
child. This peer influence has the potential to become bullying or harassment of
children who misbehave (Tingstrom et al., 2006). The benefits of the reinforcer for
an individual child may also be outweighed by the temptation to sabotage the
entire class. This problem was first encountered in the original research by
Barrish, Saunders, and Wolf (1969), and was solved by dropping two sabotaging
students from the game and not counting their marks against their teams. Recent
research has addressed these problems by offering independent contingencies for
particular children and providing corrective feedback. However, a caution is issued
that the nature of group pressure is one of the important components in the pro-
gram’s effectiveness. Finally, recent research on pro-social behavior in schools has
led investigators to manipulate the GBG to reward positive behavior rather than
punish undesired behavior. This technique would diminish the attention afforded
undesired behavior, thereby potentially reducing negative attention on misbehav-
iors. Using the GBG in this way appears not only to be as effective as the original

Nolan et al. 199

GBG, but also to be the preferred method for teacher participants (Tanol
et al., 2010).

Conclusion

Because of their expertise in behavioral theory and their expanding role as behav-
ioral consultants, school psychologists are well suited to assist classroom teachers
in customizing and implementing the Good Behavior Game for a variety of dis-
ruptive behaviors both inside and outside of the classroom (McCurdy, Lannie, &
Barnabas, 2009). Knowledge of the critical components of the GBG will assist
school psychologists in designing interventions that address specific needs and
preferences of classroom teachers, as well as identifying those students who may
need more intensive intervention (see Babyak et al., 2000; Embry, 2002). For
example, the GBG can be used to address disruptive behaviors, effectively reducing
these behaviors in the classroom. Additionally, the nature of recording rule infrac-
tions allows the teacher to identify those students who are not responding to this
universal intervention and may require secondary or tertiary services. Further, for
teachers interested in increasing pro-social behavior in the classroom, the GBG can
be customized to reward such behavior (Tanol et al., 2010) as well as to identify
those students who might have a skill deficit in this area and require more intensive
intervention. Because the GBG is based on well-understood rules of behavior
theory, its effectiveness is not moderated by diversity in the classroom, but
rather by proper selection of reinforcements and attention to treatment fidelity.
School psychologists who understand GBG possess a powerful instrument to pro-
mote behavior change in schools.

The effectiveness of the GBG has been amply demonstrated and replicated in
multiple settings and with multiple populations. Well-controlled research designs
including randomized controlled trials, multiple baselines, and changing criterion
designs have been used to thoroughly test the efficacy of the GBG (Tingstrom et al.,
2006). Although the GBG is most often used by teachers and school psychologists
to decrease undesired behaviors, it has also been used to increase desired positive
behavior both inside and outside of the classroom and has even been employed to
address academic achievement. Typically, the GBG has been used in classroom
setting with elementary-aged children but has also been used across settings, across
populations as an intervention, and as a preventative measure for aggressive and
addictive behavior (Tingstrom et al.).

More recent research has investigated its use with urban student populations
(Babyak et al., 2000; Dion et al., 2011; Kleinman & Saigh, 2011), with kindergarten
classrooms (McGoey et al., 2010), with high school students (Kleinman & Saigh),
with special education populations (Landrum, Tankersly, & Kauffman, 2003), in
cafeteria settings (McCurdy et al., 2009), on longitudinal educational outcomes
(Embry, 2002) with mental health issues (Wilcox et al., 2008), and with student
attention and academic performance (Dion et al., 2011). The GBG has also been
implemented in conjunction with other intervention strategies (i.e. Say-Do-Report

200 School Psychology International 35(2)

Correspondence Training), which successfully resulted in long-term maintenance of
appropriate classroom behavior (Ruiz-Olivares et al., 2010). Research is currently
beginning to investigate the GBG and its effect on teacher behavior, including the
monitoring of positive, neutral, and negative teacher responses to behavior (Lannie
& McCurdy, 2007). Additionally, a version of the GBG in which positive rather
than negative behaviors are monitored and rewarded shows promise as an add-
itional and preferred iteration of this technique (Tanol et al., 2010). The GBG has
been endorsed as a best practice technique (Osher et al., 2010; Simonsen et al.,
2008) and universal behavioral vaccine with multiple benefits (Embry, 2002).

Unlike many other behavioral interventions, the GBG has been studied in sev-
eral developed countries including Belgium, The Netherlands, The United
Kingdom, The United States, Germany, Spain, Chile, Mexico and Canada
(Coronado-Hijón, 2009; Dion et al., 2011; Kleinman & Saigh, 2011; Leflot et al.,
2010; Pérez, Rodrı́guez, de la Barra, et al., 2005; Pérez, Rodrı́guez, Fernández,
et al., 2005; Ruiz-Olivares et al., 2010; Tingstrom et al., 2006; van Lier et al.,
2005). Additionally, it has been investigated using students in a developing country
in Africa, whose literacy rate is very low, and whose population has had limited
exposure to behavioral theory or behavioral interventions (Saigh & Umar, 1983).
The success of the GBG across cultures, languages, socioeconomic status, and
education speaks to the utility of this tool as an effective international and multi-
cultural intervention for use in classrooms. The GBG has also been demonstrated
as an effective alternative to more punitive approaches for behavior management.
Possibly most important, the GBG has also been shown to have lasting positive
longitudinal effects for at-risk students years after it has been successfully imple-
mented in classrooms.

References

Babyak, A. E., Luze, G. J., & Kamps, D. M. (2000). The Good Student Game: Behavior
management for diverse classrooms. Interventions in the School and Clinic, 35, 216–223,
doi: 10.1177/105345120003500403.

Barrish, H. H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. M. (1969). Good behavior game: Effects of

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Author biographies

Julene Nolan is a doctoral candidate in School Psychology at Minnesota State
University in Mankato, Minnesota, USA. Her interests are in behavioral applica-
tions of psychology in international locations. She has completed advanced doc-
toral practicum training at the International School of Curacao, Netherland

204 School Psychology International 35(2)

Antilles, and in Belize, Central America. She is currently engaged in an inter-
national doctoral research assistantship working with school children in San
Pedro, Belize.

Daniel Houlihan is a Professor and Director of Doctoral Training in School
Psychology at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota, USA. His
research interests are in the area of behavioral interventions with children. His
most recent publications appear in Behavior Therapy, School Psychology
International, and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Megan Wanzek is a doctoral student in School Psychology at the University of
Utah, USA. She worked for two years at the Minnesota Autism Center and has
also worked as a school. psychology intern at the Carmen B. Pingree Center for
Children with Autism in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as in the Salt Lake City
School District. Her research interests include autism, autism assessment:
Behavioral interventions. Her most recent publications appear in Behavior
Therapy and School Psychology International.

William R. Jenson is a Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at
the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Dr Jenson’s research interests are in the
areas of behavioral interventions for tough kids, parent training, generalization of
treatment effects: Autism. He is an author of The Tough Kid Book series and the
Superheroes Social Skills program. Dr Jenson has served as an Associate Editor for
School Psychology International.

Nolan et al. 205

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