Setting Up Your Token Boards for Success

If you or your friends are in the field of behavior analysis or related fields, you have most likely heard the term token economies [or token boards]. It is something often used to motivate behavior change in an individual, which is what the field is all about!

According to Cooper, Heron, & Heward (2007), “In a token economy, participants receive tokens (e.g., points, check marks, poker chips) contingent on a variety of target behaviors. Participants accumulate the tokens and exchange them at specific times for their choices from a menu of backup reinforcers (e.g., free time, computer time, snacks).”

Cooper, J. H., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis: Second edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Penny Token Board

Above is an example of the most basic of token boards. The kiddo would work for pennies by exhibiting target behavior (i.e. in seat behavior, hand raising, etc.) Once the goal, 5 pennies, is earned, the kiddo can “cash out” and exchange the pennies for a reward of their choosing. It’s as simple as that! The wonderful thing about token boards that I love is how open-ended they can be and the flexibility that they allow.

Super Hero Token Board, Just Dance Token Board, Paw Patrol Token Board, Video Game Token Board

Above are some of my most recent creations. Personally, I love creating my token boards with the individual client in mind (i.e. likes/dislikes, delay of reinforcement capacity, age group). I truly believe putting in this extra creative work helps with the success of the token economies! Here are some things to remember when creating and implementing token boards:

  • The “goal” amount does not always have to be the same. I recommend to start by using 3-5 for the little guys and 7-10 for the older guys. Remember, the “goal” can be increased or decreased depending on the client.
  • “Themed” tokens and backdrops [shown above] are a creative way to gain client “buy in”. Colleagues of mine and I have noticed more success utilizing token boards this way!
  • You can leave a space for “Goal ______” or “I am working for________” at the top of the board if you want to. Often times, this helps when first implementing token boards with your client. Once they get the hang of it, it’s not always necessary.
  • Always make sure the goal and reward are clearly defined between the staff/teacher and client. With that being said, the target behaviors should be defined as well!

Here’s a closer look at exactly what I did:

  1. Print out and laminate a background and character tokens of your choosing
  2. Cut and add hard velcro pieces to the front in various positions
  3. Cut and add longer, hard velcro pieces to the back [place holders]
  4. Cut out character tokens and place soft velcro pieces on the backs

Thanks for reading! ~E~

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