Positive/Negative Reinforcement/Punishment

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To understand positive/negative reinforcement/punishment, you must first understand what each word specifically means. In short, positive would mean the addition of an outside variable in correlation with a previous action, be it a good or bad one; negative would be the removal of a variable, good or bad. Reinforcement could be described as rewarding or promoting a specified behavior, on the contrary, punishment would be the action taken to prevent a specific behavior from occurring in the future.

In terms of the student turning in late assignments, a positive reinforcement could be giving the student a good grade, or a tangible reward for developing a new schedule to turn in assignments on time. This might prove to be most effective when applied with a Reinforcement Schedule. This could be a fixed ratio schedule, meaning that the student would receive a positive reinforcement after a set amount of times exhibiting the desired behavior, leading to cause a desire to do right and earn the reward. A negative reinforcement could be removing a previously enacted punishment, such as the removal of recess privileges or in-school suspension. This could be also combined to a Schedule, such as the promise of the parents not restricting the student’s right to watch television after 5 grade-A assignments turned in on time.

A positive punishment, would be enforcing an undesirable stimulus upon the student, such as a scolding from the parents or teacher about his or hers failure to turn in assignments on time. This could also be delivered in the form of a physical action, the most popular being a spanking, which inflicts slight fear and pain on the child. A negative punishment would be removing something the child enjoys from them, such as their skateboard or computer.

In some circumstances, wrong or undesired actions can be reinforced instead of punished. For example, if the child becomes unpleasantly upset over their actions, the parents may feel sorry for them and...
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