Operant Conditioning: learning

Topics: Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Extinction Pages: 2 (533 words) Published: December 8, 2013
A second grade boy who has been acting out in class must learn to behave. If reprimanding the boy does not work, something else must be done. If I was a school psychologist faced with this problem, I would use principals of operant conditioning as well as observational learning to help improve the behavior of the child.

Operant conditioning is a type of learning that is used to increase or decrease the frequency of a behavior by associating a consequence with the behavior. Consequences of a behavior can help change and shape the type of behavior. In this case, the behavior that the teacher is trying to change is the talking, hitting, refusal of doing work, and disruptiveness. The goal is to decrease the frequency of this behavior and increase the frequency of good behavior.

As a consequence, the teacher could use either positive or negative punishment or reinforcement. Positive reinforcement would be presenting something pleasant; rewarding the boy when he is doing well. For example, if the boy does not talk in class that day, you could give him extra time to play. The boy would then realize that if he wants extra play time, he cannot be disruptive. Therefore, he would be less likely to disrupt the class. Negative reinforcement is taking away something unpleasant. For example, if the boy focuses and does all of his assigned work, he does not have to do homework. Homework is unpleasant, so if the teacher takes this away, the boy will realize that if he does not want to do homework, he must focus and do all of his assigned work in class. He will then be more likely to do it to avoid homework. Positive punishment is presenting something negative or unpleasant. An example of this would be giving extra homework to the boy when he misbehaves. Because the boy does not want extra homework, this will decrease the misbehavior. Negative punishment is removing something positive or pleasant. An example of this would be taking play time from the boy when he acts out or...
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