When teachers speak about behavior relating to the primary five students, usually refer to the bad behavior which includes, off-task, confrontational, un-biddable, maladjusted, acting-out, naughty, disruptive, anti-social and non-cooperative. These behaviors arise due to emotional and behavioral difficulties (Blackwood, 2014). The following categories show the behaviors of primary five in categories.
Interest in schoolwork
Work efficiency in a group
Necessity in seeking help
Behavior towards the teaching staff
Respect to other pupils
These behaviors greatly affect teaching thus hindering the teachers from executing their duties.
Many teaching staffs acknowledge that discipline is important for a child's success and development. The general belief about discipline is that it must be attained through punishment. However, this is not always the case; operant conditioning can also be used to foster positive reinforcement. This can be used in the classroom encourage the good behavior you want - and need among your pupils.
The theory of operant conditioning is a theory that encourages good behavior through positive reinforcements and discourages negative behavior through negative reinforcement. According to the Psychologists, every action has an equal and opposite reaction or what is mostly referred to as a consequence. When the actions are good, there is a possibility that the individual might repeat the same action in future due to the realized positive consequences. On the other hand, if the consequence emanating from his actions is negative, chances of repeating such actions in a similar situation are minor. Through a repeated process of these actions and consequences, behavior is developed as the individual continues to learn what is appropriate and useful, and what is not (Aloff, 2013).
Operant conditioning is very useful and effective in the classroom environment. Ways of reinforcing good behavior include praises, and rewards (Vargas, 2017).
The following example shows how the praising works in a classroom environment.
During 'listening time' in class, pupils are advised to remain quiet, and if they feel the need to make a vocal contribution, they are advised to raise up their hand. Those pupils who managed to sit quietly and behave in an exemplary way, were praised by the teacher by telling them well done- just as I asked'. The students would feel pleased by themselves due to the positive response was given to them. From there onwards, the kids are likely to repeat the action of listening quietly and raising their hands to make a vocal contribution in the future, due to the feeling of pride and self-satisfaction, which they want to emulate. (Axelrod, & Hall, 2015).
Though the technique is simple, the teacher has managed to teach the pupils on the kind of behavior that she desires, and through positive reinforcement, the child gets the urge to impress the teacher hence mutual positive outcome is realized.
Another technique is through the use of rewards. However, rewards should not be used more often as they lead to addiction and dependency. Rewards make the pupils unable to act the same way in the future without rewards (Fredrick, 2017).
Through incorporating operant conditioning techniques into lesson plans, the teacher can teach the pupils useful skills - as well as good behaviors. A teacher may use symbols such as smiley faces, stamps, stickers, and even simple ticks when a child does something correctly; this will motivate the pupils to repeat the good work again in the future (Staddon, & Niv, 2012).
Also, the operant conditioning can still be used by the teacher when he/she wants to teach the children a new skill or behavior e.g. spelling a word. To show the children that they have done the correct thing, the teacher can administer praise and do the opposite when they fail to get it right. The aim is to ensure that the teacher natures the pupils by aiding them in their development through instilling positive culture and approach Garner, 2017).
Skinner theory advocates that that says, when a child is rewarded based on good behavior, there is a possibility that he/she will repeat the good behavior. If the pupil is not shown that the behavior is good through positive reinforcement such as praise and rewards, he/she lacks the drive to continue the good behavior. Consequently, when a pupil misbehaves, negative reinforcement, which strengthens the behavior in a positive way, may be applied. Punishing children as result of behaving in a certain way will make them not to repeat the behavior again. Using positive and negative reinforcement may help to solve pupil’s behavior problems. The pupils start to realize mentally and make the association between good behavior with rewards, and bad behavior with punishment. Good results will emanate from good behavior, while bad behavior produces an undesirable result (Simmon, 2017).
Applying the operant theory can be more helpful in controlling a child’s behavior compared to punishment o control student’s behavior. Usually when a child misbehaves, the teacher gives a punishment. The punishment may include taking away the privilege, issue more homework, or swap seats. If shows a good behaviour, special privileges are then given to the students, or free time, this is referred to as positive reinforcement. The other positive and negative reinforcements that can be used by the teacher are grades. When the pupil does not study for a test, the student scores low grades. The low grade acts as negative reinforcement for failing to do extra studies and high grades for studying. The operant theory is useful when developing children behavior, and when teaching them (Geis, Stebbins, & Lundin, 2016).
The operant theory seems to deal with the specific type of behavior that is good and bad. It looks like there may be no difference in between. The habit of reinforcing good behavior as a teacher is tiresome and can only takes place for a few times. The pupil ought to learn how to behave well and continue on that trend long after positive reinforcements has stopped. When the positive reinforcements stop, the pupil might stop behaving in a good way as well. Consequently, a pupil with a continuous bad behavior can only be punished many times before he/she loses the drive to work on his/her behavior. According to the operant theory, a badly behaving child requires a type of motivation to influence good behavior. Sometimes if whatever is discouraging negative reinforcement may not be adequate, in such a case an indirect motivation may be applied to influence a child’s good behavior (Gupta, 2017).
During the application of operant conditioning o pupils, it is advisable to allow a little room that encourages group work as well as asking of questions. Operant conditioning is rooted on improving behavior from lowest level of thinking, through the process of reinforcement, and continuously moves up until the desired behavior is attained. To practice the operant theory in the classroom, individual tasks are then given to the pupils by the teacher by the topic. This task is repeated until completion. This theory shows that the lack of engagement and motivation among the pupils, is the source of weakness in behavioral change. Students ought to engage in-group discussion and be encouraged to solve problems through experiments and research (Hasekiu, 2013).
There are positive and negative reinforcements. These reinforcements work through increasing the likelihood of behavior. As for punishment, any action weakens that reduces the chance of the occurrence of behavior is termed as punishment. Positive punishment discourages a behavior through presenting unpleasant consequences after the response; on the other hand, negative punishment destroys a response by discouraging something pleasant. For instance, when a pupil is grounded after fighting with another pupil, will probably refrain from fighting due to the positive punishment. Another example is when a pupil misses the opportunity to go to recess after getting a poor grade. This is a negative punishment that makes the pupil improve the grades (Joseph, 1974).
However, sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate whether the punishment is positive and encourages behavior or negative punishment that decreases the behavior. For On a hot day cold wind con be viewed as a positive reinforcer as it brings a cool air to cool the heat, or a negative reinforce as it takes the heat away. However, it is a possible that the reinforcer can be positive negative at the same time. For instance, a smoker may smoke a cigarette for pleasure, which is a positive enforcement and eliminates the craving for nicotine, which makes it a negative reinforcement (Mike, 2011).
When trying to change behavior, it is advisable that reinforcement and punishment are not contradicting each other. The use of positive reinforcement to change behavior is more fruitful than punishment. The reason behind it is that positive reinforcement tends to create a good feeling on the person or animal. This helps to create a relationship that is positive between the individual giving the reinforcement. Some of the positive reinforcement that can be used includes financial reward, awarding of status or prestige and verbal praise or approval. Punishment is more likely to encourage temporary changes in behavior as it leads to the creation of a negative relationship between the individual giving the reinforcement. In the absence of that individual providing the punishment, the chances of developing the unwanted behavior are high (Rachlin, 2015).
To instill complex behaviors, one needs to extend the use of operant learning and alter the schedule that is used for reinforcement. This paper has mostly discussed on continuous reinforcement schedule, upon which a behavior that is desired is reinforced whenever it occurs (Segal, 2016). Continuous reinforcement helps in obtaining fast results in learning. However, the behavior is extinct once the reinforcer disappears. The main challenge that the responder may give up quickly if the desired behavior is not realized despite the reinforcements (Rachlin, 2015)
In real life situations, reinforcers are rarely continuous; they appear within a schedule that is intermittent and may reinforce the response or in some occasions fail to. Intermittent reinforcement leads to a slow change in behavior In comparison to continuous reinforcement, however, they lead to resistance to extinction. This is due to the reason that they take longer to reappear and thus before the learner realizes that there is no reward to accompany the behavior. Thus, it sticks and takes the time to be extinct (Sakamoto, 2017).
Aloff, B. (2013). Positive Reinforcement (1st ed.). Neptune City: TFH Publications.
Axelrod, S., & Hall, R. (2015). Behavior modification (1st ed.). Austin, Tex.: Pro-Ed.
Blackwood, R. (2014). The Control of Anti-Social Behavior in Inner-City Classrooms Through the Use of Verbally Mediated Self-Control (Teaching Verbally Mediated Self-Control in the Classroom). Final Report (1st ed.).
Fredrick, H. (2017). ISTC 301: Integrating Instructional Tech / Strengths and Weaknesses of Operant Conditioning. Integratingtech301.pbworks.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017, from https://integratingtech301.pbworks.com/w/page/20021638/Strengths%20and%20Weaknesses%20of%20Operant%20Conditioning
Garner, P. (2017). Challenging Behaviour in the Classroom. amazonaws. Retrieved 6 May 2017, from https://documents.routledge-interactive.s3.amazonaws.com/9781138787704/st/Challenging_Behaviour_in_the_Classroom.pdf
Geis, G., Stebbins, W., & Lundin, R. (2016). Reflex and operant conditioning (1st ed.). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Gupta, B. (2017). Extraversion and reinforcement in verbal operant conditioning. British Journal Of Psychology, 67(1), 47-52. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1976.tb01496.x
Hasekiu, F. (2013). Learning of Bullying’s Acts Throught Operant Conditioning. Mediterranean Journal Of Social Sciences. https://dx.doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n9p519
Joseph, J. (1974). Operant Conditioning. The American Journal Of Nursing, 74(3), 517. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3469653
Mike, M. (2011). Behavior Modification of Emotionally Disturbed Youth, Final Report of Educational Adjustment Classes (1st ed.).
Rachlin, H. (2015). Classical conditioning and operant conditioning: A response pattern analysis. Psyccritiques, 24(7). https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/018877
Sakamoto, W. (2017). 7.2 Changing Behavior Through Reinforcement and Punishment: Operant Conditioning | Introduction to Psychology. Open.lib.umn.edu. Retrieved 6 May 2017, from https://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/chapter/7-2-changing-behavior-through-reinforcement-and-punishment-operant-conditioning/
Segal, E. (2016). Brief Books on a Large Topic: Operant Conditioning. Psyccritiques, 20(12). https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/014467
Simmon, S. (2017). How To Use Operant conditioning in your classroom. Teach-nology.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017, from https://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/operantcond.html
Staddon, J., & Niv, Y. (2012). Operant conditioning. Scholarpedia, 3(9), 2318. https://dx.doi.org/10.4249/scholarpedia.2318
Vargas, J. (2017). From Operant Conditioning to Selection by Consequences. Interação Em Psicologia, 20(3). https://dx.doi.org/10.5380/psi.v20i3.49113
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