Established 1979 by Richard John Stapleton

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Effective Learning Publications





A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning  

Richard John Stapleton    

Effective Learning Publications (274 pp.)

$14.99 paperback, $4.50 e-book

ISBN: 978-0-692-58433-0; February 24, 2016, Barnes & Noble, Your Local Bookseller

A refresher course in Transactional Analysis emphasizes its application to the classroom.

Transactional Analysis (TA) was invented by psychiatrist Eric Berne and then popularized in his classic book, Games People Play, originally published in 1964. Stapleton (De-Gaming Teaching and Learning: How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness, 1979), a retired professor, acknowledges Berne’s contribution by providing a salient overview of TA principles, including ego states and “OKness,” in the early chapters of this book. The focus of the content, though, is applying TA to “the total learning process” in a volume updating material that appeared in Stapleton’s previous work. While the author suggests his new book could apply generally to organizations and businesses, it seems most relevant to educators. Four of the eleven chapters concentrate on such specifics as classroom layouts, teaching methods, tests, grading, classroom management, and classroom games. The psychology behind classroom games is particularly intriguing; “classrooms are inherently Gamey,” writes Stapleton, “because of the natural presumption that students need teachers to help them, which more or less creates a Drama Triangle situation.” Perhaps most enticing is the author’s description of the “Classroom De-Gamer,” a “roulette”-type device he created to effectively spread out student anxiety. Students spin the De-Gamer’s arrow to randomize being called on. With the De-Gamer’s proper usage, “all ego states in students can see and feel that they are not being Persecuted or Rescued by a teacher playing a Game when they are called on to respond to classroom requirements and challenges.” This idea alone should spark a creative teacher’s rethinking of the traditional classroom environment, but it is just one of a number of alternative learning concepts covered in this enlightening book. Stapleton uses the final chapter to reflect on his career from the perspective of a retired 75-year-old looking back on chapters he wrote as a 38-year-old. Somewhat loose, freewheeling, and maybe a bit beyond the book’s scope, Stapleton’s parting shot more broadly concerns the state of students, universities, society, politics, and the world.

Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the classroom.

See INSIDE BORN TO LEARN free at for the entire Table of Contents and much of the writing.

A major feature of BORN TO LEARN is its transactional analysis of the significance and importance of classroom layouts, teaching methods, and testing methods used by teachers of all kinds in all environments, parents in homes, teachers in schools, managers in businesses, Sunday School teachers in churches, and others.

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If you are someone with the responsibility of teaching others—a parent, a school teacher, a manager, a preacher, a leader of a civic club, a fraternity or sorority, or some sort of military organization—you should read this book.


Because it can help you do a better job of teaching and leading and gain more satisfaction from the process.

The most important lessons in life are not lessons memorized in school; they are messages learned about how to live life so as to increase satisfaction for everyone.

Born to Learn points out an obvious fact:  Everyone is indeed born to learn.  And they will learn, no matter how good or poor their teachers or leaders were or what they learn.  But the question is, what will the learning cause them to do?  Hopefully gaining some knowledge of transactional analysis will enable readers to gain more control of their personal learning process so as to get where they want to go. 

Born to Learn is based on clinical observations and research conducted by Eric Berne, MD, a psychiatrist, and millions of people have used his findings since the early 1960s to help themselves and others learn better messages for getting on with the business of surviving and succeeding in the world.

But much of Born to Learn is concerned with problems especially relevant to classroom teachers.

I wrote a short piece called Appendix I in the back of Born to Learn recommending readers read our (Stapleton & Murkison) article "Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations:  A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades," published in the Journal of Management Education in 2001 by the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society. 

The article is concerned with how to fairly evaluate and reward teachers, probably the most vexing problem in the teaching profession.  Teachers want to achieve something and be recognized for their achievements.  Achieving for teachers is causing students and to learn relevant and useful ideas, concepts, facts, techniques.  Excellent teachers are not satisfied with merely doing a passable job; they want to do an excellent job.  But how do you know what is excellent and what is good, average, and poor?

"Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations"  provides hard evidence, proof some say, that teachers in some cases can increase their student evaluation scores and their merit raises by lowering the requirements and grading standards of their courses, by dumbing them down and teaching to easy tests, which is not good teaching. 

Using a CITP, a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, a new computer-based quantitative metric I invented, presented in "Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations," in a department or school will eliminate this possibility and optimize fairness for all teachers in the department or school when it comes time to grade teachers and reward commensurately.  It will clearly show which teachers really were the top producers. 

To verify the 68 refereed journal articles citing "Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations," as a reference, just punch Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations into Google and read the sources. 

Here is a pdf copy of “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production and Expected Grades.”  Read it by clicking here:

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations gets to the heart of intractable problems of the teaching profession, the most serious of which is probably teacher evaluations. How can you as a teacher or evaluator know with any degree of certainty how well you or any other teacher is doing his/her job? What sort of criteria can you use for making this judgment? Certainly the purpose of teaching is to cause learning to occur in students, but how do you measure this? What kind of learning? How much learning? How much learning relative to what? What percentage of a prescribed content or syllabus a teacher causes students to memorize? Or how much learning a teacher produces in students relative to how much peer teachers produce? In other words are you attempting to measure absolute learning or relative learning?

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations presents a unique Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity (CITP), one of the most sophisticated metrics of teaching productivity yet developed in the teacher evaluation literature for measuring how well a teacher relatively caused learning to occur in his/her students.

Read it by clicking here:



Business Voyages:  Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds

Copyright © 2008, 2010, 2011 by Richard John Stapleton
Library of Congress Control Number: 2004098342
ISBN: Hardcover : 978-1-4134-8082-5;  Softcover: 978-1-4134-8081-8
Effective Learning Publications, First printing, August 2008
756 pages, 76 illustrations, index, 5.5 x 8.5 inches in size

$28.99 softcover; $38.99 hardcover; $2.99 ebook, Barnes & Noble, Your Local Bookseller

Despite what you may have been told about how wonderful it is to be a successful entrepreneur running your own small business, make no mistake, it's not easy.  About forty percent of all new small businesses are discontinued after the first year.  Only about twenty percent last ten years.

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.  Business Voyages provides information and techniques that will enable you to better assess how your script fits the profile of the typical successful entrepreneur.

The biggest cause of new small businesses not making it, according to Business Voyages, is not poor management but poor entrepreneurship.  It's fairly easy to learn the management tasks of most small businesses once they are set up, but it's not easy to set up the right small business in the right place in the first place.  In many cases if you set up the wrong small business in the wrong market you are doomed from the get go regardless of how hard and well you and your employees work once the business is set up.  

The only thing that counts in the long run is positive net cash flow, which is what is left over after you pay all your expenses, including your own living expenses.

This won't happen if there are not enough customers in the market you choose who will buy enough of whatever it is you want to sell at a price sufficient to generate a gross profit percentage sufficient to absorb all your fixed expenses, and leave something left over for you to live on.  This means you need to know how to calculate a break-even point for your business.  Business Voyages will teach you how to figure this, before you start your business.

According to Business Voyages most new small businesses are not based on business plans but on personal psychological scripts, mere fantasies people carry around in their heads about what a business is like and how much they would enjoy running it.

Learning the difference between a business plan and a script could be worth far more than the cost of the book.

Business Voyages is not a get-rich-quick book making readers think it's easy to make money as a small business owner, or that all people need is passion for what they do to make it big.  Business Voyages is based on about forty years of experience and case research.  It tells it like it is with facts and actual cases to enable you to learn about the whole picture you will have to deal with.

You can read an eBook copy from for about three dollars, or a soft cover copy for less than thirty dollars.

You will need several thousand dollars of start up capital to get your business started.  Not reading Business Voyages before you start can result in your wasting some of your start-up capital, which may have taken you several years to save. 

Most small business environments today are more insecure and uncertain than environments of the past.  Large corporations in rich countries have borrowed digital money with low interest rates, money created as if by magic by the US Federal Reserve System and other central banking systems, by simply punching digits into computer "accounts" and calling the resulting numbers money.  Over three trillion dollars worth of this funny money, known as quantitative easing, has been created in the US alone. 

The CEOs and directors of large corporations around Earth borrowed some of this digital money created out of thin air by issuing junk bonds at low interest rates to buy back their own stock in stock markets to artificially increase their stock prices, to enrich themselves, making it seem their corporations and economies as a whole were performing better than they were, deceiving and manipulating millions of investors worldwide.  Relatively little of this money trickled down to the middle class. 

Central bank policies around the world have now created negative interest rates on loans and bonds, creating deformations of capital markets, generally available only to large corporations.  How can you pay people to borrow digital money?  Some supposed experts are now predicting in July 2016 the stock market will boom and others are predicting it will crash by forty percent or more this year or next. 

Round and round it goes, where markets will actually go, caused by today's bizarre monetary policies, nobody knows.  Despite this new monetary policy, designed to promote economic growth, the world still suffers from insufficient aggregate demand, i.e., purchasing power among consumers sufficient for stimulating the creation of new small businesses and significant economic growth.

The tax reductions, military spending increases, money creation, and interest rate reductions since 1980 by the US Government, the US Federal Reserve System, and other governments and central banking systems around the world have primarily enriched the rich, and have done little or nothing to help middle and working classes, including small business people, who have experienced income decreases, after well-paying jobs were sent to low wage countries and robots were used instead of people in factories remaining in the US.

All of this has made it more difficult for new entrepreneurs starting small businesses to make a go of it.

We may be in the eye of a monster economic depression that started in 2008.  If so, we will have to batten down the hatches and hope for the best when we hit the back side of it.   

Chapters and sections in Business Voyages are titled:  Causes and Influences; Where to Go?; What Lies Ahead?; People Along the Way; Running a Tight Ship; Mixing Business and Family; The Case Method; Cases; Articles; Exercises; Integration; On Living With and Changing Worlds; Recent Business History and the Future; Down to Earth Learning Right Now; Bibliography, Index.

It's not easy to figure out today where to go on any business voyage.  Nobody knows for sure what lies ahead.  Read BUSINESS VOYAGESto learn cases, concepts, and techniques to learn about how to cope with the process and the possibilities, to increase your chances.

BUSINESS VOYAGEScontains several cases showing the history of the Georgia Southern University business school during 1970-2005.

If you intend to study or teach business in a business school, you should read the case "Evidence the Case Method Works" in the case section of Business Voyages.  The research data in this case alone is worth the price of the book.  Longitudinal ten-year data in the case, based on a survey of former students who had been in the real world at least five years after graduation, show that students taking courses in which the case method was used made more money than students taking the same courses in which the lecture, telling, or computer game methods were used.  Former students who became entreprenerurs who took case method courses reported the highest mean income of any group.  A large majority of the respondents said the case method is the best method for teaching business and recommended that more case method teaching be offered in the Georgia Southern University business school.

Following are some comments by readers of Business Voyages.

In his tour de force, of Business Voyages, Professor Stapleton combines the values of his pioneering American family, the leadership learned from quarterbacking winning football teams, the insights gained from decades of teaching future CEOs, and practical commercial acumen into a must-read chronicle for those seeking to recover from the economic chaos gripping our nation. 

William John Cox, public interest lawyer, retired prosecutor, author and political activist, Los Angeles, California 

Business Voyages is four books in one—it is an autobiography (so that we learn something about the author), a brief guide to transactional analysis (to learn briefly about scripts, ego states and games that people play), a small business case book (to learn from others) and it is a book for entrepreneurs (inviting them to look at the available web and other resources, encouraging them to plan a business voyage and challenging them to actually go on that voyage). The entrepreneurs will smile as they go through this book and just look forward to so much that life can bring. From a business learning and teaching viewpoint this book has much to offer.

(Dr.) Bill Dimovski, Former student and now Senior Lecturer in Finance, Deakin University, Australia, and a director of various companies engaged in construction and retail activities.

In an informative chapter called “Games Educators Play," Richard Stapleton applies his expertise in management and mathematics to a persistent and vexing question: what weight should be given to university students’ ratings of their professors.  In a significant addition to the debate, Stapleton’s hard data show that neither professors nor their students are well served when student ratings are used in personnel decisions.

Judith D. Fischer, Associate Professor of Law, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Finding the Way, September 16, 2010
By West Texan (Muleshoe, Texas), a review at
This review is from: Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds (Paperback)

A friend sent me a copy of Business Voyages, to entertain me in my early "retirement," to encourage me in finding my way during these uncertain times, and, perhaps, to provide me with a map and some guidelines to get where I want to go.
It was a very nice and greatly appreciated gift.

The book is almost like a year-long, small-group graduate seminar with your favorite teacher, as Professor Stapleton reminisces about growing up as the son of the local successful entrepreneur in a small West Texas town, quarterbacking the football team, working his way through college and starting his own businesses, before deciding that he had something to offer to students who want to learn about running a business.

Take a while, read the book slowly and take to heart what the good professor has to say. It's worth the time and the price.

See INSIDE THE BOOK (BUSINESS VOYAGES) free at for the Table of Contents and much of the writing.

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by Richard John Stapleton

Effective Learning Publications

Publication Date: October 19, 2012 eBook, 180 equivalent print pages, $2.99.

Recommendations For Waking Up From The American Nightmare is an analysis of how the US got in the predicament it is in and what the author recommends for getting out of it. 

A major feature of the book is a case study of an organizational development consulting engagement the writer experienced in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a manufacturing plant over five years, showing how he applied transactional analysis de-Gaming principles with some 300 members of the organization from several areas and levels in the chain of command, resulting in the creation of a new computerized scheduling and control system implemented plant wide, increasing the efficiency and profitability of the plant, and the cohesion and job satisfaction of organizational members—until the parent corporation owning the plant sold it, and most of its jobs were shipped overseas to a low wage country. 

Stapleton is convinced the root cause of American economic troubles is political, economic, religious and social polarization among US voters who since 1980 have voted into office polarized politicians out to feather their own nests and promote idiosyncratic economic interests, beliefs, values, dogmas, doctrines and ideologies, rather than use common sense to analyze the real causes of problems and recommend logical solutions.

Polarized politicians since 1980 voted for or against legislation based on their predetermined economic interests, ideologies, dogmas and doctrines, not the facts of cases, resulting in the deadlocked dysfunctional government we have today.

Recommendations For Waking Up From the American Nightmare advocates more dialectical democratic Game-free case method discussions among people from all walks of life in more and more Town Hall Meetings to foster more discussion of facts of cases and their logical solutions, hopefully resulting in more voters concerned about the facts of cases and inducing logical solutions, resulting in the election of like-minded politicians voting to do the right thing for we the people based on the facts of cases, not predetermined idiosyncratic ideologies, economic interests, beliefs, values, dogmas and doctrines.

In order for the performance of the US government to improve we need better politicians, and to get better politicians we need better voters.  To get better voters we need more and better adult education, and the place to start is by creating spaces where adults can discuss issues and cases by answering three adult questions:  What is the problem?  What are the alternatives?  What are the alternatives?

Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare  describes and explains a dialectical democratic case method process that can be used to discuss cases in a Game-free way to enable disparate groups to reach consensual truth about what to do about real problems and opportunities.

The author is convinced Republican neoconservative ideologies inflicted on the US economy since 1980 are major causes of the economic problems we have today; and, while he is not overly impressed with the neoliberal ideologies of the Obama administration since 2009 he thinks this administration has done more good than harm.  The Obama administration (OA) at least made a start toward creating a rational health care system in the US and did not create military disasters with new wars.  Whether any US president no matter how ethical or intelligent can do much about correcting the deformations and impediments created by the lobbyists of large corporations and the elite rich since 1980 that have disrupted and hamstrung the rational and orderly functioning of the US economy remains to be seen. 

The author recommends amending the US Constitution as soon as possible to eradicate Citizens United of 2010, the absurd and abominable 5-4 Supreme Court case in which five extreme right wing Republican judges ruled corporations are people with free speech, entitled to spend as much money as they wish buying propaganda in mainstream media to influence federal elections in their favor, at the expense of we the people.

Stapleton recommends the United States Voters' Rights Amendment (USVRA), proposed by William John Cox, to improve the functioning of US democracy.  See Transforming America:  A Voter's Bill of Rights, by William John Cox,, for a full analysis and discussion of how to amend the US constitution.

See INSIDE THE BOOK (RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE) free at for the Table of Contents and much of the writing.

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