WWC review of this study

Combining Social Skills Instruction and the Good Behavior Game to Support Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Meredith Murphy, J., Hawkins, Renee O., Nabors, Laura. (2020). Contemporary School Psychology v24 n2 p228-238. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1251543

  • Single Case Design
    , grades

Reviewed: January 2023

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
Meets WWC standards with reservations

To view more detailed information about the study findings from this review, please see Good Behavior Game Intervention Report (516 KB)

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 23%
    Male: 77%

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  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
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The study took place in three classrooms in one state-chartered alternative school in the midwestern United States. The school served students identified as needing intensive behavior and mental health supports.

Study sample

Participants included 22 students in kindergarten through grade 6 in three classrooms. Each classroom had one teacher and one teacher assistant. Across the three classrooms, all students had an individualized education program, and most (77%) were male. Sixty-eight percent of students were Black, 9% were White, and 23% did not report race.

Intervention Group

The Good Behavior Game is a classroom management strategy that promotes students collaborating together to create a positive learning environment. Students are placed into teams and are rewarded for demonstrating appropriate behaviors and not violating classroom rules. In this study, teachers used 10-minute scripted lessons over a 1-week period to teach students social skills, including following directions the first time they were given, raising one’s hand to ask and answer questions, and ignoring distractions. Descriptions of the social skills were printed on posters and placed on the walls of the classroom. When they completed the social skill lessons, teachers randomly grouped students into teams, reviewed Good Behavior Game rules, and explained how students could earn points and rewards. Each session lasted 45 minutes; every 5 minutes teachers would provide behavior-specific praise to students using the targeted skills and award points on a chart displayed at the front of the classroom. When the game ended, teams that scored more points than a pre-set criterion received a reward. The criterion increased throughout the study.

Comparison Group

There is no comparison group in single case designs. In the baseline phases of the single case design, teachers addressed disruptive behaviors using their typical classroom management strategies, which included reminding students of expected behavior and offering appropriate behavior alternatives. Baseline sessions occurred during 45-minute class periods.

Support for implementation

The researcher provided training to teachers, which included a description of Good Behavior Game rules, procedures, and scoring. Researchers also provided tips for introducing social skills to students and a script to use during sessions. Teachers had opportunities to practice implementation and researchers provided them with feedback.


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