EFFECTS OF POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT AND SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING COUNSELLING TECHNIQUES ON SULLENNESS AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
This study investigated the effects of positive reinforcementand social skills training counselling techniques on sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna metropolis, Nigeria.A quasi – experimental design of pretest, posttest controlgroup was employed for this study. The population of the study consisted ofone hundred and fifty (150)senior secondary school students who showed symptoms of sullenness drawn from three selected public senior secondary schools in Kaduna metropolis. Purposive sampling technique was used to select a sample size of 30 students (15males and 15 females) with high incidence of sullenness as indicated by their scores on the MFQ checklist.The instrument adopted for the study was Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ). Whilet-test, one way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) statistical methods were used to test the five null hypotheses formulated to guide the study at alpha P≤ 0.05 level of significance. The findings revealed that: positive reinforcement is effective in reducing sullenness among secondary school students (p=0.003), social skills training counselling technique is effective in reducing sullenness among secondary school students (p=0.000), in comparing the two techniques both are effective (p=0.000), differential significant effectiveness did not exist among male and female students exposed to positive reinforcement counselling technique on sullenness (p= 0.241) and social skills training (p =0.391). It was recommended that counsellors, school psychologists, school principals and teachers should be exposed to positive reinforcement and social skills counselling techniques training in re-addressing Sullenness among secondary school students.
1.1 Background to the study
Sullenness as a behaviour problem is a major concern to educators and the society because of its negative impact on students’ social life and cognitivefunctioning. Educators have described behaviour problems such as Sullennessin students as a major concern in schools over the years, as many teachers feel ill-equipped to assist students who exhibit such behaviours (Ducharme&Shector, 2011).By not addressing behaviour problems such as Sullenness during secondary school days, young people could face a number of adverse challenges during adulthood (Kern, White &Gresham, 2007). Sullenness as described by Fergusson (2014),is synonymous to moody, peevishand unsociabledisposition.
The wide range of symptoms associated with Sullenness such as persistent sadness, discouragement, low self –esteem, indecisiveness, suicidal impulses among others do impaired on the cognitive capacity of students for full and effectivefunctioning of its victims (Davis, 2010). He further stressed that due to these associated symptom.Sullen behaviours are indicative of underlying insecurities and fears that are harboured within its victims, it is a state of mood disturbance in which the victim has feelings of lowering- mood, resentment, persistent sadness among others(Linus, 2013). He further opined that Sullenness conjure images of a person who is bad – tempered, unhappy, has deeply ingrained anger, bitterness and feels frustrated and stranded from ways to get their basic needs met. Sullen individuals tend to get into the cycle of negative thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that tend to perpetuate low mood. When sullen individuals make mistakes or are ignored, they indulge in self- defeat thoughts such as “I’m not good” or” I’m stupid”, “Nobody likes me” and so forth. They ignore the times when they did some worthwhile
things and when someone was friendly to them. They focus on negative experience and allows that to become the only way they see the world (Corey, 2013).
Students at adolescent stage may experience sullen signs once in a while due to some biological, psychological, and social shifts that occur in the process of growth and development. Sullenness becomes a concern when five or more of its symptoms persist for two or more weeks with more noticeable changes persisting in students to continue in negative and pessimistic point of view; it does then become a concern.
Ellsworth (2011), opined that an interaction with classroom teachers and educational stakeholders in recent times attest to the prevalence of sullen behaviour among students in the classrooms. The researcher as a teacher/counsellor has also witnessed frustrationsamong teachers cum students where lack of proper management of sullen students, lack of social skills and proper reinforcement strategies were major causes of classroom disruptions.
Linus (2013), asserted that sullen students behave the way they do because they have experienced and often continue to experience some emotional turmoil associated with a dysfunctional family life. He further stressed that the route of individual’s behaviour rests in the lessons learnt naturally during childhood. By this assertion it may then imply that sullenness among students cut across gender. Students whose parents are more controlling may likely become closed-off, sullen and irritable in their adolescent life. The anger, confusion, unfairness andfrustrations as well as chumming and roiling feelings which they cannot expressed freely often spill out inform of Sullenness. There is no one cause of Sullenness but combination of factors some of which may be beyond the scope of schools, such factors as grief over the death of loved ones, family factors, poverty; lack of social support, parenting styles which may have their roots from home serving as triggers for students’ emotional trauma. It might therefore be difficult for teachers
to influence such factors alone but can seek the supports of counsellors and behaviour management experts towards minimizingsuch behaviours.
In the works of Massi and Favilla (2000), emotional and behavioural problems are strong predictors of social adjustment deficits which may impede functional interpersonal relationships. It is obvious therefore, that sullenness entails both social and emotional problems that cannot be overlooked due to its negative effect on the victim.Sullen students may refuse to learn by withdrawing into themselves or may refuse to cooperate cheerfully with others in a given learning situation. An approach from Guidance and counselling perspective, using various counselling techniques to reduce unsociable behaviours cannot be over- emphasised as attested to by National Policy on Education documentsection 8 subsection 127(vi) which reads in part “…to facilitate the implementation of educational policy, attainment of policy goals and promotion of effectiveness of educational system… government shall continue to make provision for the training of teachers in Guidance and Counselling;…”p.39) (NERDC, 2013). Studies like this research may help towards achieving some set goals and objectives of National Policy on Education as Counsellors offers professional support to students with behavioural problems.
Skinner (1983), asserted that for effective behaviour remediation positive reinforcement is superior to punishment, hence the use of positive reinforcements as behaviour interventions plays a significant role in behaviour management among students. He maintained that the use of positive reinforcement as a behaviour management technique has a high and effective impact on improving adolescents’ behaviour. Positive reinforcement is a behaviour management system in which reinforcers are dispensed inform of tangible and non-tangible rewards like verbal praise, a clap of hands, a smile, material gifts and a host of others to strengthen or encourage a desired behaviour. In other words, it is a concept that determines the increase and frequency of behaviour. The goal
of positive reinforcement is to give something to somebody to make the desire behaviour happen again.
Segrin (2001), postulated that social skills training is a widely applied and effective treatment for a wide range of psychological problems that include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, loneliness, and marital distress to name but a few. Perhaps one reason for the ubiquity of this technique in psychological contexts is that it is actually a collection of techniques aimed at improving the quality of people’s interpersonal communication and relationships. For this reason, social skills training can take a variety of specific forms that can be tailored to the particular needs of the adolescents.
Spence (2003), also postulated that social skills in interpersonal relationships have a significant long- time influence upon psychological, academic, and adaptive functions of an individual. Social skills represent the ability to perform behaviours that are important in enabling a person to achieve social competence. Thus, an underlining premise of social skills training is to equip students with low peer acceptance to have the social skills required to develop and maintain positive peer relationships.In stressing the importance of social skills Chio and Kim (2003) further pointed out that, beyond the school years, situations requiring social competence tend to far outnumber those requiring academic skills. Social skills among others involve cooperation, effective communication, effective listening, empathy, healthy interpersonal relationships, and self-control. Hence, in a more civilised manner counselling psychologists and behaviour management experts have developed a variety of behavioural management techniques to address different types of socio-emotional behavioural problems such as Sullenness. Techniques such as but not limited to positive reinforcement, social skills training, cognitive restructuring, modelling and a host of others are being used by behaviour management experts/ counsellors to address some
behavioural problems. Thus, it is against these backgrounds that the researcher found it relevant to research into the, Effects of positive reinforcement and social skills trainingcounselling techniques on Sullenness among secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Sullenness in students is a matter of concern to educators and the society because of its potential impairment on effective functioning ofthe affected individual. Sullen behaviours are indicative of underlying feelings of insecurity and fears and instead of the victim ascertaining his/her rights; a sullen student is likely to become cold, withdrawnand resentful, as well as sad and close off emotionally. He/she becomes so rigid and unresponsive which in turn causes victims to feel defensive and tense. This kind of behaviour can easily spiral into a long-term standoff that brews, fosters and grows into something far more destructive than it ever should have been.There are copious complains in literatures by teachers feeling ill-equipped to assist students with the sullen behaviour problems exhibited in the classrooms. Sullen students seems to lack the basic skills and the capacity with which to express their feelings of frustrations and despondencies in appropriate ways and manners; such feelings are corked up within thereby causing some inner turmoil and conflicts and invariably they end up sinking into a sulk. These might cause aloss of psychological balance that may inhibit students’effective and fullfunctioning. Sullen behaviour problems from studentyouths are obviously seen to be confronting and reflecting in homes, schools, and the society. In recent times, communities and societal violence, killings and suicidal ideations were seen to be mostly perpetuated by youths.
This has become an issue of great concern that needs a professional handling with a practical and evidence- based behaviour management techniques that couldreduce sullen behaviours to a barest minimum.Thus, considering the huge potentials and relevance of
studentyouthsin the future of any nation, it would tantamount to a colossalfailure and waste to watch such potentialsbeing crippled by any psycho-social behaviour problems such as Sullenness. Hence, this study therefore,explored the ‘Effectiveness of positive reinforcement and social skills training counselling techniques on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis, Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study were to determine the:
1. Effectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
2. Effectiveness of social skills training counselling technique onSullennessamong senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
3. Relative effectiveness of positive reinforcement and social skills training counselling techniques on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
4. Differentialeffectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on Sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
5. Differential effectiveness of social skills training counsellingtechnique on Sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
1.4 Research Questions
The study sought answers to the following research questions:
1. What are the effectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis?
2. What are the effectivenessof social skills training counselling technique on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis?
3. What are the relative effectiveness of positive reinforcement and social skills training counselling techniques on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis?
4. What are the differential effectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis?
5. What are the differential effectiveness of social skills training counselling technique on Sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis?
1.5 Null Hypotheses
In line with the research questions the following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study:
Ho1 There is no significant effectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on Sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
Ho2 There is no significant effectiveness of social skills training counselling technique on sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
Ho3 There is no significant relative effectiveness of positive reinforcement and social skills training counselling techniques on sullenness among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
Ho4 There is no significant differential effectiveness of positive reinforcement counselling technique on Sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary schools in Kaduna Metropolis.
Ho5 There is no significant differential effectiveness of social skills training counselling technique on Sullenness of male and female subjects among senior secondary school students in Kaduna Metropolis.
1.6 Basic Assumptions of the Study
The study was carried out on the following basic assumptions:
1. It was assumed that positive reinforcement counselling techniques would have the effectiveness of reducing the Sullenness of the treatment group
2. It was assumedthat social skills training counselling techniques would have the effectiveness of reducing the Sullenness of the treatment group.
3. It was assumed that positive reinforcement and social skills trainingcounselling techniqueswould have relative effectiveness ofreducing Sullenness of the treatment group.
4. It was assumed that positive reinforcement counselling technique would have differential effectiveness of reducing Sullenness of the male and female subjects of the treatment group.
5. It was assumed that social skills training counselling technique would have differential effectiveness on reducing Sullenness of the male and female subjects of the treatment group.
1.7 Significance of the Study
It was anticipated that the findings of this study would contribute immensely to knowledge especially in the area of Educational psychology and counselling as the study stands to provide evidenced-based effectiveness of positive reinforcement and social skills training techniques as behaviour management strategies. The followings stand to benefit significantlyfrom the outcomes of this study:
Students: The outcome of this study stands to acquaint and provide insights for teachers/school counsellors on how to effectively use positive reinforcement and social skills counselling techniques to assist sullen students overcome sullen behaviours in order to become a normal functioning person.
Counsellors/Teachers It is hoped that the findings of this study would be of significance to counsellors/teachersby providing them with practical and evidence-based behaviour management strategies to Sullenness as a behaviour problems occurring in the classrooms.
Curriculum Developers:The findings of this study also stands to create awareness for educators and curriculum developers to know the relevance and effectiveness positive reinforcement and social skills training counsellingtechniques so as to be included intothe curriculum.
Schools: The findings would create awareness for school Principals to make and implement plans for students with sullen behaviour problems in the place of the traditional and obsolete way of corporal punishment anddismissals and or expulsion of students from school in the guise of minimizing behaviour problems.
Parents:It is hoped that parents also would benefit from the findings of this study through enlightening the parents of the relevance and effectiveness of the two techniques in reducing sullen behaviour through such forums as Parents teachers Association.
Relevant literatures:The findings of this study would equally enrich relevant literatures on thestudied variables: Sullenness, Positive reinforcement and Social Skills training counselling techniques thereby serving as reference materials for future research works.
1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study