This is the first part of the Term Paper assignment. This assignment involves: (a) clearly defining a specific behavior that you would like to modify, (b) developing a strategy for monitoring that behavior, and (c) monitoring the behavior for several days or more. You may select a behavior that you would like to decrease (e.g., smoking, drinking, eating chocolate bars) or a behavior that you might want to increase (e.g., exercise, eating fruit). Sometimes students want to adjust a behavior (e.g., develop a regular sleeping pattern) rather than increase or decrease the behavior. For this monitoring assignment, you are asked to make no specific effort to change the behavior that you selected. The assignment you submit should include the following components.
1. A specific definition or explanation regarding the specific behavior to be monitored
Clearly identify the behavior. It is important to be as specific as possible. For example, “eating healthy” is vague. If you were interested in healthy eating, try to identify some specific behaviors that you would define as eating healthy (e.g., eating a serving of fruit or a serving of vegetables with a meal). It is also important that the behavior be related to your health.
2. A detailed record of the behavior
You should create a monitoring form to record the behavior (see example below). Ideally, you should carry it with you and record your behavior as it occurs (or shortly thereafter). As much as possible, avoid retrospective reporting. The form should include the day and time during which the behavior occurred. In some cases, you will need to record details of the behavior (e.g., duration of the behavior or amount consumed). If possible, record any antecedents of the behavior or information regarding the circumstances of the behavior. This could include what you were doing immediately before engaging in the target behavior (e.g., watching TV) or any thoughts or feelings that you had before engaging in the target behavior (e.g., feeling stressed). You should also record the consequences of the behavior. These could include very concrete results of the behavior as well as thoughts and feelings. The consequences identified can either be positive or negative. If you plan to increase a behavior or begin a new behavior (e.g., going to the gym), your monitoring might be very easy as you would likely just need to record that you did not do the activity. However, you may want to include a comment section regarding issues that would have either hindered or facilitated that behavior over the course of the day. The monitoring can be used to provide data on what your behavior was like before the intervention, and the data can be used to develop strategies to change your behavior. Once you have started monitoring your behavior, keep monitoring it until the intervention period ends. You will need to submit your monitoring record as part of your term paper assignment and will also need to summarize the results of your monitoring for both the pre-intervention and intervention periods. There should be at least 1 week of data for the pre-intervention period and 2 weeks for the intervention period (if you are short by a day or two for one of these, it is acceptable).
3. Quantify the behavior
For the term paper assignment, you will need to graph your behavior before and after the intervention. To do this, I suggest you monitor your behavior in a manner that can be used for this purpose (e.g., number of minutes exercised, number of fruits and vegetables eaten, number of cigarettes smoked). If you are planning to use some behaviors to change your thoughts and feelings (e.g., practice meditation to reduce stress), you should record the amount of meditation and also include subjective ratings of your thoughts and feelings (e.g., rating of stress from 0 to 10). I suggest you also record totals for either each day or each week.
Example regarding consuming Pepsi (note that this example is fictional)
Date: Jan. 13
Time Antecedent/Situation Details Consequence Quantity
1:42pm Working in office, feeling aggravated with having to spend time writing cheques to pay bills Consumed 2 liter bottle of Pepsi -Mood more positive
-Feeling very full
-Had to go to bathroom 5 times in 1 hour 2000 ml
11:05pm Snacking on spicy pizza while watching TV. Need something to kill the spice Had small can of Pepsi Spice problem solved
Dailey total 2355 ml
3. What you submit should also include a brief (or longer) paragraph regarding your reactions to the assignment. You should comment on the degree of difficulty you had in complying with the monitoring (e.g., Did you record everything? Did you find it annoying and want to quit?) as well as any other observations you had about the process.
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