Behavior Breakthroughs is an interactive simulation that allows the user to implement various strategies to calm an agitated child. Users can choose from a bevy of options to address the child’s behavior in order to move an agitation meter from red to green. The app is geared towards teaching those who work with children how to mitigate difficult behavioral practices with appropriate reinforcement. The App is free (March, 2013). The complete version is available for PC or MAC and is for sale on Amazon
Users will learn how to react with an agitated child in real time by choosing from a selection of actions. The goal of the program is to teach users when to employ reinforcement and extinction (ignoring the child) in order to calm them and teach them appropriate behavior.
Target Student Population:
The target population is parents, caregivers, childhood and adolescent behaviorists, teacher educators, teacher education majors, and school service support personnel.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Knowledge of reinforcement and extinction theories and their application and the ability to download Apple apps are pre-requisite knowledge and skills.
Type of Material:
The app can be used individually by parents or students. An instructor in a classroom management, psychology and special education classes can use the app as a demonstration or have the class work together in teams to decide on the best interventions using the full version of the app on a computer. The App could also be used as a homework assignment, where users could spend more time progressing through the simulation.
The iTunes store states that this app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and that it requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Evaluation and Observation
The learning object presents educationally significant concepts. There are educator licensure requirements being adopted by several states which mandate that educators and school administrators be able to understand the psychology of, and methods of interaction with exceptional children. There are also social and emotional standards being adopted by states which candidates can learn to apply by using the app. It partially eliminates trial and error in real life situtations where time is of the essence for the safety of the child.
The App offers both learning outcome statements and a help file directly in the App, stating what the user is supposed to do in the scenario presented to them.
There should be more information on the different behavioral responses possible in the App. Users click and receive feedback on an agitation meter, but they aren’t given information as to why what they’ve done is correct or incorrect.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
After successfully learning reinforcement and extinction principles, the user should be able to predict and then de-esculate potentially volatile behavioral situations in a safe and effective manner. The app should be introduced after a lesson on behavorial reinforcement and extinction principles.It could be used as a practical application of a theory. An instructor could evaluate the accuracy of student responses. The target learners are technologically savvy with quick response reflexes.
The scenario that is created for users to interact with is one that is strong, engaging and clear. You definitely enter the simulation knowing that you have a task to complete and that it is time-sensitive and dynamic. This is excellent in that the designers have effectively mapped the real-world scenario to this app and delivered it in a realistic way.
Unless the full version of the software is purchased, the use of the Apple app is limited in a classroom situations.
The learning objectives defined actually read more as learning activities. This could be corrected by tying the instructional tasks to the content with options to see explanations of terms and actions, similar to some of the charts available on the Behavior Breakthroughs website.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The design of the app is excellent in terms of presenting a scenario and creating a real feeling of agitation and alarm. As you provide responses to the child’s behavior, you can see your meter change in real-time, letting you know how you are doing. The game-based learning style of this simulation has the potential to engage users while interacting with the app. Additionally, having a clear Help button is excellent in terms of giving users further instructions or help if they get stuck.
Once you are in the App, it is not clear how to exit the simulation or turn it off. It would also be nice to have instructions on both how to use the app in addition to instructions on how your actions are rooted in relevant theory and practice.
Other Issues and Comments:
While the App store and website state that there are multiple levels available, only level one is available through the App.