Skinner's Key Ideas
1. Behavior is shaped by its consequences, by what happens to the individual immediately afterward. 2. Systematic use of reinforcement (rewards) can shape students' behavior in desired directions. 3. Behavior becomes weaker if not followed by reinforcement. 4. Behavior is also weakened by punishment.
5. In the early stages of learning, constant reinforcement produces the best result. 6. Once learning has reached the desired level, it is best maintained through intermittent reinforcement, provided only occasionally. 7. Behavior modification is applied in these two main ways: * The teacher observes the student perform an undesired act; the teacher rewards the student; the student tends to repeat the act. * The teacher observes the student perform an undesired act; the teacher either ignores the act or punishes the student, then praises a student who is behaving correctly; the misbehaving student becomes less likely than before to repeat the act. 8. Behavior modification successfully uses various kinds of reinforcers. They include social reinforcers such as verbal comments, facial expressions, and gestures; graphic reinforcers such as marks and stars; activity reinforcers such as free time and collaborating with a friend; and tangible reinforcers such as prizes and printed awards. The Skinner model can be a powerful model for classroom teachers, one that can be easily modified and implemented with students of all ages and backgrounds. Types of Reinforcers
Types of reinforcers commonly used in schools fall into four categories: 1. Social.
Social reinforcers consist of words, gestures, and facial expressions. Many students work diligently just to get a smile, pat, or a kind word from the teacher. Some examples are: * Verbal * OK. Wow! Excellent. Nice going. Exactly. Right. Thank you. I like that. Would you share that. * Nonverbal * Smiles, winks, eye contact, nods, thumbs up, touches, pats. walk beside, stand near, shake hands. 2. Graphic.
Graphic reinforcers include marks of various kinds such as numerals, checks, happy faces, and special symbols. Teachers make these marks with felt pens and rubber stamps. They may enter them on charts or use a paper punch to make holes in cards kept by the students. They may attach stars or stickers that are commercially available in large quantities and varieties. 3. Activity.
Activity reinforcers include those activities that students prefer in school. Any activity can be used as a reinforcer if students prefer it to another. Examples of activities that usually reinforce academic learning are: * For younger students:
* Being a monitor, sitting near the teacher, choosing the song, caring for the pet, sharing a pet or toy. * For middle students:
* Playing a game, free reading, decorating the classroom, having extra recess time, going to an assembly. * For older students:
* Working with a friend, being excused from a test, working on a special project, being excused from homework. 4. Touchable.
Touchable reinforcers are real objects that students can earn as rewards for desired behavior and are more powerful for some students than other types of reinforcers. They are widely used with students who have special behavior problems. Many primary teachers use tangible reinforcers regularly. Examples of inexpensive reinforcers are: popcorn, raisins, chalk, crayons, felt pens, pencils, badges, etc. Application of the Model
(Jack will not work)
Jack, in Mr. Jones' class, is quite passive. But despite Mr. Jones' best efforts, he can hardly get Jack to participate in class activities. Mr. Jones try the following approaches with Jack. 1. Catch Jack being good (doing anything that is appropriate). Reward him whenever he participates or works. 2. Repeat the class rules regarding work. Praise Jack whenever he follows the rule. 3. Consider stronger reinforcers. If...