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Using Operant Conditioning in Classroom Management

Question:

Discuss about the Operant Conditioning Thesis.

Operant conditioning theory on human behaviour has been used in classroom setups to manage students and pupils alike. The case study under review is of a primary school teacher who is managing her class, however the pupils are non participatory on her teaching and they are not engaging the teacher on the class activities as required. There is laxity in class as they are not completing exams and their home works. The teacher has made a resolution to change the behaviour of the class. In progress to behaviour change, operant conducting behaviour model will be used. Operant conditional tool is a method of behaviour learning through the use of reinforces which act like motivators that are a product of our action, (Skinner, 2007).

Discipline is essential for the success of the child and to promote development. Many teaching staff needs that. It is always to think discipline will come from punishment. Operant conditioning model encourages positive reinforcement which is applicable to the classroom environment. The theory utilises both the negative and positive agents of change or reinforcements so as to encourage the positive behaviour of the students in class, while preventing the occurrence of bad behaviour characterised by keeping quiet with no response while the teacher is teaching in class. The psychology experts and bigwigs have observed that every action has impacts and effects, if it is good, the behaviour will be repeated severally, however when the experience is not good, it will not be repeated next time, (Vargas, 2005). It is during this time that better development of behaviours will be developed and enhanced for the children to adopt the required behaviour for learning.

Operant conditioning has been utilized in various situations which has been found to be effective in the classroom environment, one the various ways of behaviour reinforcement is by use of praise to the children, (Skinner, 2007). It is used in the classroom and has been utilized in behaviour change for children. It is a simplified way of working of learning with the use of reinforces that cab are a product of our actions for this case classroom activity. Teachers often spend more time in class rooms during teaching time; hence the responsibility of the teacher increases with time to manage proper behaviour. For this reason it is paramount for the educators to be aware and understand the how to effectively utilise the theory for effective practice. This paper thesis will look at the operant conditioning to present the right hypothesis for the class room scenario for teacher Jane regarding the behaviour portrayed by her pupils with regard to improving the learning atmosphere in the class.

Fifth graders children typically have physical changes which are in different from the other categories of ages. They displayed social emotional, cognitive and language behaviours. Research has shown that at this stage, children display multiple font characteristics which often shown at a go, they may include changes in height, weight and eyesight and many more. Many fifth graders have shown to display extrovert traits; they often need to a talk and share the need. They usually love to talk and display their feelings in their environment. The common characteristics of these children are that you can capitalize as an asset to help the students to cope up and improve on their classroom behaviour, (Wood, 2007). Talk characteristic is one of the many traits the fifth graders have in common. The social emotional traits of these children include the act of being happy and enjoy the company of their peers and working well in groups.

Managing Fifth Graders with Operant Conditioning

As a teacher, capitalizing on this advantage is great, building of groups and working into lessons and projects. Flexible work groups among these children works well with lots of different people. These children enjoy co-cooperativeness and competitive games, this can enhance the opportunity for peer tutoring and mentoring in class. This children further are able to take pride in school work and the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time, (AACP, 2000). Fifth graders hence have shown to prefer in working in smaller groups, and are a bit tense hence being careful in giving direction is essential, and that they have shorter lifespan attentions in class. Use of positive and negative reinforcements is predominant at this stage. During the class time, the pupils are required to remain quiet and lift their hands up when they want to make any contribution in class. When the child exhibits an exemplary performance the teacher praises the child like, ‘great effort John, or ‘keep it up’. In this way children feel praised and after getting such positive statement appraisal. The pride gotten will be likely to be replicated and more likely to be replicated in the future and hence high chance of behaving during class time.

In this way the teacher has managed to teach the children the behaviour she expects from them to behave through positive reinforcement, the child is highly likely to impress the teacher next time and thus achievement for good gesture outcomes for the two sides, that is the teacher and the child. Rewards and gifts can be used but care should be considered so as not to be over used as it may lead to over dependency. For example provision of biscuits to child, may become too adjusted, becomes struggle to act in the same way without being given such a gift as a reward. In order to incorporate operant conditioning into lessons plans, good teaching of useful skills is essential. Usage of symbols like smiles on faces, good work stamps and stickers, gives them an encouragement to redo the satisfying work again and again repeatedly. Reinforcement such as when a pupil does something which is good like doing a particular problem, if done correctly you administer praise to impact the joy that they have done right, and when done the opposite, you tempt them from performing that way in the future.

Punishment has been used in school as negative reinforce, (Shteingert, Hanan & Yonatan, 2014).  It is used to modify behaviour. Its usage on children’s development can be counterproductive in that it creates fear among the children which eventually results in disinterest to learn and achieve positive behaviour, (Ormord & Rice, 2003). Punishment at times leads to disconnection between the action and consequence. When a child misbehaves in class, the teacher will be forced to discipline and the child resists the discipline until the senior teacher intervenes, this shows delay in the punishment delivery. Operant conditioning theory however don’t advocate for punishment for behaviour change, instead, they advocate for focus on identifying traits that bring pleasurable result.

Incorporating Operant Conditioning into Lesson Plans

Effective classroom management in this case study is possible to achieve without using punishment, use of reinforcement can achieve desired behaviours without the students feeling being harassed or in the use of punishment, (Skinner & Ferster, 2015). These techniques used can have an impact on the children’s character role. The wider range of behavioural issue learnt can have a positive impact on the pupils, due to different styles used in teaching and the learning styles which are varied. Every teacher desires to have a unique approach on how to handle his/her class and effect the desired behaviour change need and the terminal behaviour they want to see When effectively used, classical and operant condition are effective approach towards maintaining a conducive classroom for effective learning.

Theory of operant conditioning is that child behaviour in classroom for behaviour is that presence of a reward is likely to motivate the good behaviour from happening. And when there is no reward or a positive reinforcement, the child would have no motivation to repeat the behaviour change desired. When a child misbehaves there are negative reinforces she/he will get. There are consequences that accompany negative reinforcement. Punishment on the child after a negative or unwanted behaviour is likely to be modelled again, (De Houwer, Branes & Moors, 2013). Children automatically make correlation between good behaviour with rewards and bad behaviour is associated with punishment.  It is evident that good behaviour yield good result while the bad behaviour produces bad result.

The forms of the theory are helpful in managing the student’s behaviour. When the pupils misbehave a reward should be given in form of punishment. The teacher can take any privilege given to the child, or allocate extra work or some kind of punishment. However when children behave well they are give positive privileges which act as reinforcement. If the students don’t get to participate in class, they will get low grades which are like negative reinforcements, thus this theory is advantages in raising children and teaching them.

The theory has been taunted to strictly deal with either bad or good behaviour. Teacher keeps reinforcing the children for positive behaviours for good child behaviour during the first few times. It is required for the child to get into continuation and prolonging the good behaviour. The child should thus continue with good behaviour after the stopping of the reinforcements. Reward should be extinct for good behaviour, however when the reward is stopped the child is likely to stop the good behaviour as well. Also child can be punished severally on the behaviour change, till she/he loses the motivation to even start working on the behaviour change. The child will need good motivation again to start to behave in the expected way. The negative reinforcement on the child might not directly be linked to adequately motivate the child to behave well, (Waren & Hale, 2016).

 In the class set up implementation of the theory, it requires the need for students to work in groups and engage each other. The theory starts from the low level engaging the students on the low level and through reinforcements they move up the ladder. The teacher in the classroom gives the pupils assignment and tasks to complete, which are eventually done till complete. Theory lacks contact communication and motivation for the children, which is biggest weakness, the students need to be encouraged and have group discussions in a way that they figure out things through experimenting on the tasks given.

Other learning theories such as Kohlberg, Erikson, Piaget and Bandura, is that their focus on learning is that they contribute information to the body of knowledge, they are precise and testable and they offer clinical insights for practical applications in the real life situations. However disparities have shown to take effect. These theories combined often exhibit over simplification of situations, bases its studies on natural settings and pay too little attention to cognition, (Green & Piel, 2015).

Conclusion

Operant conditioning is an effective tool for behaviour change in the classroom set up. However when conditions leads to on beneficial development, it undergoes a process called extinction. It is slow process which can appear to be rarely complete and original behaviour is likely to reappear. In this case, the habits of not participating in class and doing assignments as required may re-occur to the initial stage. Hence care must be observed when achieving behaviour change so as to escape extinction phase. Discipline in class ensures that child development is achieved. Good discipline can be enhanced using the operant conditioning, which it motivates on positive behaviour reinforcement which is applicable to class room environment.

With this review, operant conditioning needs to be approached on a balanced approach for effective and maximization of its effect. Key issue is the observance of reward and pupils engagement for the pupils in order to improve the behaviour. Thus in my perspective, operant conditioning is suitable in effective the change of habit among the pupils.

Reference

AACP (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) and David Pruitt, (2000). Your child emotional behaviour and cognitive development from Birth through preadolescence.

De Houwer, J., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Moors, A. (2013). What is learning? On the nature and merits of a functional definition of learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20(4), 631-642.

Green, M. G., & Piel, J. A. (2015). Theories of human development: A comparative approach. Psychology Press.

Ormrod, J. E. & Rice, F. P. (2003). Lifespan development and learning. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Shteingart, H., & Loewenstein, Y. (2014). Reinforcement learning and human behavior. Current opinion in neurobiology, 25, 93-98.

Skinner in the Classroom Cont. McLeod, S. A. (2007). B.F. Skinner | Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html

Skinner, B. F., & Ferster, C. B. (2015). Schedules of reinforcement. BF Skinner Foundation.

Vargas, Julie S. (2005) A Brief Biography of B.F. Skinner, https://www.bfskinner.org/BFSkinner/AboutSkinner.html ©2012 B.F. Skinner Foundation

Warren, J. M., & Hale, R. W. (2016). The influence of efficacy beliefs on teacher performance and student success: Implications for student support services. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 34(3), 187-208.

Wood Chip, (2207). Children in the classroom ages 4-14, 3rd Ed North Esstern Foundation for children.

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