The New Prep 4: The Writing

In the previous post in this series, I described more behind-the-scenes of my new PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification course, and the self-management project I designed for it. This time, I’ll describe my writing process, and how I applied b-mod to it.

So, what’s the point of teaching a course in behaviour modification if I don’t use b-mod principles myself? I’m the first to admit I’m not pefrect (see? ha!); there are a lot of behaviours I’d like to change. But instead of developing perfect pitch, improving my posture, or becoming even more good looking (note: only one of these is an actual behaviour), what if I modified my creating-the-course behaviour itself? I know: Mind = blown.

Here’s what I decided to do. Whenever I finished writing one of the 21 lectures that comprised the course, I would allow myself to watch one James Bond movie. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time (watch the movies, not write a whole bunch of lectures). Watching a movie would serve as a reinforcer for the behaviour of writing a lecture. If you’re thinking that a reinforcer has to be like a pellet of rat chow or something, let me introduce you to the Premack principle: “more probable behaviors will reinforce less probable behaviors.” In other words, a person will perform a less desirable activity in order to receive the chance to perform a more desirable activity.

There are some flaws with my method, I have to admit.
1) I did not explicitly define my behaviour. “Writing a lecture” includes finding content to address all learning objectives on that topic, and explaining the principles and procedures clearly. Whatever that means. Still, this is a better definition than, say, “writing 50 pages of lecture notes in a Word document” which was a guideline that I also actually used. (Hey, a world-changing lecture that only lasts for one class does not an entire course make.)

2) I did not collect baseline data. (Why not? I wasn’t looking to make a permanent behaviour change. I don’t expect to have another new prep in the foreseeable future. So, really, my baseline was: amount of prepping for my new course = 0.)

3) The reinforcement of watching a movie did not follow immediately after my behaviour. To maximize the effects of any consequences of behaviour, they should follow the behaviour almost immediately--half a second, to be precise. Sometimes I watched the movie days after completing a lecture. (Why? I would order the DVD from the library when I was close to finishing a lecture. Sometimes, the DVD would be in the next day and a few times it took over a week. Even if it came in right away, I only go to the library once a week, so I’d usually have to wait a several days. And when I finally picked up the DVD, I waited until my kids were in bed before I started watching the movie.)

4) I did not formally collect data from my behavioural treatment program--although I did self-monitor my behaviour. I kept a close eye on how many lectures I completed and how many days left until classes started. And because I progressed through the Bond movies chronologically, I had a good sense of how much work I had completed and how much more was left to do. (Lots of men walking around wearing hats? Just getting started. Feathered hair and shoulder pads? Hmm, about half way done. Grim, gritty, dark, borderline psychopathic Bond? Almost done!)

So, did my behavioural treatment work? I can’t say for sure. Feeling the looming deadline of The First Day of Classes is a big motivator all by itself. (Standing in front of 300 people with no lectures prepared is a recurring nightmare of mine. For reals.) I put my head down and worked all summer--even during family trips. (Check out the photo me a in a tent with my nose in my iPad in the What I Did on my Summer Vacation (2013 edition) post.) Actually, all that sitting at the computer/at the beach made me, er, gain a few pounds. If only there were some way to change my behaviours so that I could be more active and eat more healthy foods. Oh, right: behaviour modification. *sigh*

(Here’s an easy way to tell if my treatment program failed, and I didn’t get my lectures done: Instead of lecturing, am I showing lots of movies in class? James Bond movies?)

Coming up next: The New Prep 5: The Lectures.

Why aren’t you studying?


Anonymous said...

More good looking? Is that even possible...? :P

!#$ said...

Well, who is your favourite Bond?

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

Of course, I can't give a brief answer to anything. So, here's a post about my favourite James Bond.

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