Kathryn Kaufman

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Kathryn Kaufman's Mini-Course Implementing a Token Economy in the Classroom


About me

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Through my undergraduate work at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, I earned my professional teaching certificate in New Jersey and an initial certification for New York. Both certifications allow me to teach English Language Arts in grades 7-12. From 2008-2013, I taught high school English in Wallington, NJ before moving on to my current position teaching ELA to ninth graders in Yonkers, NY. I am currently working on a Masters in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology at the University of Albany.

Personally, I live in Yorktown Heights, NY with my husband, Hal, and our one-year old son Benjamin. I love to travel through cruising, and unwind with a good book.




My Purpose

The intent of this course is to show educators how to design and implement a token economy in the classroom

Topics that will be covered:

  • What is a token economy?
  • How can a token economy be effective in the classroom?
  • What does a token economy look like?
  • How can educators use tokens to correct or promote positive student behavior?
  • What are some criticisms of a token economy system?
  • How can a token economy be adapted to a twenty-first century classroom?
  • What are examples of "tokens" that can be used in the classroom?
  • How can tokens be used to increase student motivation?
  • How can a token economy be modified for individual student needs?

Learning Outcomes

Participants will

  • define effective uses of the token economy in the classroom.
  • understand how to develop and implement a token economy in the classroom.
  • determine how to modify the economy in their classroom to meet the needs of their learners<br /

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem

Many beginning teachers have difficulties with classroom management early in their careers. McLaughlin and Williams (1988) point out the effectiveness of the token economy in improving social and academic behaviors in students. In a study by Crawford and McLaughlin (1982), token reinforcement was evaluated as a means to increase on-task behavior. In this study there was a clear increase in on-task behavior during the token-reinforcement phases. According to the study, on-task behavior from the student more than doubled when tokens were first introduced (Crawford & McLaughlin, 1982). Through such a system, teachers can improve desired behaviors in their students. Teachers, however, need to be instructed on how to develop and implement an effective token economy in their classroom. Doll et. al (2013) suggest, "successful classroom management techniques are crucial to successful teaching and student learning, and token economies are an important aspect of classroom management which teachers could implement. Beyond learning the techniques available to teachers in their programs, instilling a meaningful knowledge of behavioral principles are important for successful classroom management and token economy implementation in particular." This course will serve to help participants develop a plan of implementation for a token economy in their classroom that meets the needs of a twenty-first century classroom.

What is to be Learned

Participants will learn how to effectively implement a token economy in the classroom to improve student behaviors and motivation.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

The Learners

This mini-course is designed for current school teachers in all disciplines who are looking to improve their classroom management techniques. To be successful, participants need to have a current classroom population that they may survey for behavioral and motivational needs.

Instructional Context

For this course, participants will complete coursework online. They will need an active internet connection and can work at their own pace. Students will be asked to read information, respond to thought questions, develop and implement an instructional plan, and reflect on their learning.

Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution

Participants will read the theory behind the token economy in the classroom, and explore different ways in which the system can be adapted to meet the changing needs of the twenty-first century classroom. They will learn various strategies to improve student behavior and motivation through the token economy system. They will also explore ways to modify the strategies they use to meet the needs and abilities of their students.

Goals for this Mini-Course

The main goal for this mini-course is for novice teachers to improve their classroom management. All participants should finish this course with a plan to implement a token economy in their classrooms.

Performance Objectives

Course-level objectives Participants will be able to:

  • identify the uses of a token economy in the classroom and analyze its purpose through written response questions after reading a theory based article.
  • compare the use of a token economy and evaluate the use of each example after watching two short video clips
  • generate a list identifying at least two desired behaviors in their classrooms after careful analysis of need
  • create and implement a plan for their token economy
  • monitor student progress, modify their system, and reflect on their implementation to meet their goals.


Task Analysis

Unit 1: What does a token economy look like?

  Lesson 1: What does a token economy look like in theory?
  Lesson 2: What does a token economy look like in practice

Unit 2: How can I design and implement an effective token economy?

  Lesson 1: What do I need to design an effective token economy?
  Lesson 2: How do I modify my token economy to meet the needs of my students?


Essential prerequisites

  Lesson 1: Participants need to have the ability to read and write critically, teach in a current classroom, and have access to
              Adobe Acrobat for downloading.
  Lesson 2: Participants need access to YouTube and experience in the classroom 
  Lesson 3: Participants need to have an established performance context (current classroom) with an assessment of current 
              behavioral needs.
  Lesson 4: Participants need have a learner assessment of their students

Curriculum Map

File:Curriculum Map K. Kaufman.pdf

References and Resources

Crawford, D. J., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1982). Token reinforcement of on-task behavior in a secondary special education setting. Behavioral Engineering, 7, 109-117.

Doll, et. al. (2013). The Token Economy: A Recent Review and Evaluation. International Journal of Basic and Applied Science, Vol. 02, No. 01, July 2013, pp. 131-149.

McLaughlin, T., Williams, R., & Witt, J. (1988). The Token Economy. In Handbook of behavior therapy in education. New York: Plenum Press.