Behaviour Modification in the Educational Setting

Tai’s new school has a policy that all students need to do at least 15 minutes of homework each week night. Explain and justify the steps from a Behaviour Modification approach that Tai would take to make sure his students do their homework and bring it back to school the next day.

The principles of behaviour modification developed by Skinner depend on two main concepts of reinforcement and punishment as the regulators of students’ behaviours and attitudes to learning activities (Brady & Scully, 2005). To achieve the definite results of the students’ behaviour and activity, it is possible for teachers to strengthen their appropriate behaviours with using different rewards and to weaken the undesirable misbehaviours with the help of punishment (Bennet & Smilanich, 1994). The reactions of students to stimuli can be different according to the teachers’ intentions and with references to introducing or removing this or that technique. Nevertheless, it is necessary to state that the behaviour modification approach is characterised by accentuating the effects of positive reinforcement on students’ performance and behaviour in a classroom (Edwards & Watts, 2008). From this point, the concept of positive reinforcement in behaviour modification is correlated with the ideas of the applied behaviour analysis (ABA) which depends on Skinner’s concepts and determines the significance of the social factor (Gordon, Arthur, & Butterfield, 1996). To shape the students’ behaviour, the researchers of the behaviour modification approach propose to concentrate on the developed system of positive reinforcement as the most effective way to regulate the students’ activities and behaviour, promoting their good results (Lyons, Ford, & Arthur-Kelly, 2011). It is possible to follow the definite steps of creating the program of the effective usage of reinforcements for shaping the students’ certain behaviour, for instance, students’ regular doing homework and presenting the results of the work in class during the next day.

When the administration of a school implements a new policy which can be the requirement to do homework each week night and present the results the next day, it is necessary to provide the conditions for every student’s following the requirement. The development of the reinforcement program according to the principles of the behaviour modification can be discussed as the effective method to stimulate the students’ activity and encourage their positive reactions to the requirement. According to Edwards and Watts, the first step in working out the effective program based on the system of positive reinforcement is the identification of the students’ behaviour to be changed (Edwards & Watts, 2008). In this case, it is necessary to provide the conditions for the students’ responsible attitude to doing their homework and to avoid the situations when students are not prepared with their home tasks.

The home assignments help students to improve their knowledge of the definite material and practise different skills. From this point, home tasks are often associated not only with the previous topic of the discussion in class but also with the next theme. That is why, when students do not prepare their home tasks in time they prevent themselves from successful learning the other information and developing study skills. Thus, the first feature of the inappropriate students’ behaviour which is relevant to the discussed situation is the absence of the prepared homework, and this fact contributes to the possible unexpected alternations in the teacher’s plan. Such criteria as the time when the behaviour can be observed, its place, and antecedents can be discussed as rather stable because of the fact the case is connected with the situation of not presenting the home task in time. The threat of such a situation is in students’ frequent repeating of the behaviour. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the frequency of students’ not preparing their home assignments. The problem is in the fact it is necessary to achieve the situation of 100% completion of all the home assignments every week.

According to the researchers, to achieve the positive results, it is necessary to use definite types of the positive reinforcement (Porter, 2007). This principle is based on the behavioural modification approach. However, it is possible to refer to the concepts of the assertive discipline according to which the desired results can be also achieved using the developed and appropriate methods of punishment (Rogers, 2007). To encourage students to learn the definite material and do home tasks carefully with their presenting in time, it is significant to work out the reinforcement program and provide it with a schedule. The choice of the effective reinforcer and its successful usage are the most difficult stages of developing the program to shape the students’ behaviour. Positive reinforcement is based on the system of rewards. Nevertheless, definite rewards can be discussed as ineffective to stimulate the students’ progress during a long period of time. Verbal reinforcers such as praise should be associated with the other kinds of reinforcers to provide the necessary effect.

It is important to choose several types of reinforcers in order to have the opportunity to change them because of decreasing the students’ attention to them. Moreover, it is effective to compose the list of the possible reinforcers for students to choose those ones which are discussed by them as highly motivating. In this case, it is appropriate to focus on the ways of acknowledging students’ efforts, for instance, with the help of presenting the results of their work publicly. However, the usage of one reinforcer during a long period of time cannot stimulate students’ constant positive reactions to the tasks and motivate them for doing the assignments. That is why, it is possible to introduce another reinforcer as the end goal of successful preparing all the tasks according to the schedule. The schedule of reinforcement should be organised in relation to the necessity to present the results of the work every week. Reinforcers should stimulate students for the further progress that is why it is necessary to implement immediate standard reinforcers such as the acknowledgement of students’ efforts along with summarizing the students’ positive results in order to achieve the main reinforcer in the form of an individual activity. This activity will be discussed as the additional reinforcer and can be associated with the leisure time, the privilege to assist to the teacher during the definite period of time, and work on the special project in which students are interested (Gordon et al., 1996). The factor of the students’ interest in the activity which is presented as a reinforcer is the most significant for their motivation.

To guarantee the effectiveness of the used reinforcement program, it is also necessary to refer to the principles of the assertive discipline according to which students should be informed about the rules of presenting their home works and about the possible punishment when the rules are not met (Edwards & Watts, 2008, p. 96). The establishment of limits is necessary for the case when it is impossible to ignore the inappropriate behaviour. The rules should be reminded regularly, and the possible kinds of punishment for the case can be associated with the assessment of the tasks.

Ciara is looking forward to teaching her own class and wants to use lots of stickers and stamps to create a positive learning atmosphere. What are two arguments for this approach? One of her friends who is also a new teacher has said she will not be using any extrinsic rewards. What arguments would support her friend’s view?

Positive reinforcement can be discussed as one of the dominated methods according to the behaviour modification approach which can be chosen as relevant in opposition to the method of negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is based on presenting a system of rewards for students to stimulate their definite behaviour (Edwards & Watts, 2008). And negative reinforcement depends on different techniques of punishing students in order to prevent their further inappropriate behaviour. The approach which is based on the assertive discipline includes the effective usage of the both methods in order to motivate students to perform the certain behavioural pattern. Nevertheless, it is possible to combine the advantages of the both approach in order to achieve the desired results in the concrete situation. When a teacher decides to use stickers and stamps in order to create a positive learning atmosphere, she is inclined to refer to the system of positive reinforcement because stickers and stamps can be discussed as token reinforcers. The researchers provide a lot of arguments to support the effectiveness of this method (Konza, Grainger, & Bradshaw, 2001). Nevertheless, there are also many investigations on drawbacks of the idea to use extrinsic rewards (Bloom, 2009). That is why, it is necessary to discuss the question from two opposite perspectives.

To make efforts to achieve high results in studying definite subjects and to follow the certain behavioural pattern, students should have high motivation. Positive reinforcement can contribute to creating the important stimuli which influence the level of the motivation. Positive stimuli provoke the students’ positive reactions to them. Thus, the usage of rewards as a kind of stimuli is effective for influencing the positive behaviours and activities (Rogers, 2007). The researchers state that “rewards will increase the quality and quantity of children’s schoolwork, in addition to eliminating discipline problems, without doing any harm” (Edwards & Watts, 2008, p. 73). According to this vision, punishment as the form of the negative reinforcement can provoke only negative reactions and affect the students’ ignoring the teachers’ remarks and stimulate the students’ continuous performance of the inappropriate behaviour or activity. That is why, the first argument for using the reinforcement program of the behaviour modification approach is in the fact that rewards as the positive reinforcers stimulate students’ positive reactions and behaviour.

Stickers and stamps can be effectively used as the token reinforcers when present the immediate teacher’s reaction to the student’s success and, as a result, provoke the students’ positive responses based on their motivation. It is possible to use token reinforcers in order to accentuate the students’ successes in definite activities such as answering questions, doing extra work or participating in discussions (Brady & Scully, 2005). The value of the token reinforcers should be discussed in advance, and students should receive the clear instructions about the peculiarities of using this system (Rogers, 2007). The next argument to use extrinsic rewards as a kind of positive reinforcement is in the fact that tokens can be used for stimulating the further progress of students because the definite number of tokens can be removed with the valuable alternative. In this case, students are not limited by the possibility to receive only one reward immediately and not to make any further efforts. The system of tokens depends on the students’ progress in the definite activity and presenting the results of their continuous work. However, positive reinforcement can be implemented carefully in order to preserve the students’ concentration of the learning process instead of working only for the definite rewards.

In spite of the obvious advantages of using extrinsic rewards to motivate students for their efficient learning material, appropriate behaviour, and completing the tasks successfully, the positive results of using this technique can be achieved only with references to following the schedule of reinforcement and meeting all the requirements of developing the effective reinforcement program. That is why, many researchers concentrate on the negative effects of using extrinsic rewards actively. The most influential issue is associated with the question of the person’s inner motivation (Jones & Jones, 2007). Educators accentuate the fact that the inappropriate usage of extrinsic rewards can contribute to the development of the situation when students want to receive the definite rewards, and this stimulus influences their being hard-working for a long period of time more than the desire to learn new facts and develop their studying skills (Lyons et al., 2011). Thus, “extrinsic rewards, thereby, replace intrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated people pursue optimal challenges, display greater innovativeness and tend to perform better under challenging conditions” (Edwards & Watts, 2008, p. 74). From this point, students’ intrinsic motivation can be replaced with extrinsic rewards inadequately, and this process does not contribute to the students’ progress.

According to Charles, the inappropriate usage of extrinsic rewards can lead to some problems with the students’ responsibility for their careful preparing assignments (Charles, 2008). The question of responsibility is one of the most significant for students’ achieving the best results in their study. Students should be aware of different consequences of their actions. Nevertheless, concentrating on the reward as the positive consequence of the learning activity or appropriate behaviour, students are inclined to diminish the importance of the other factors. Furthermore, the dependence on achieving rewards makes students be actively controlled in their learning process by teachers, but the aspect of self-control is not so developed (Manning & Bucher, 2003).

Moreover, when the students’ behaviour is predominantly caused by such a kind of stimulation as extrinsic rewards, the situation of removing rewards can affect the unexpected changes in the students’ behaviours or activities. Therefore, it is necessary for teachers to continue the support of the students’ positive attitude to the learning process with the help of different rewards which should be various in order to be interesting for students. That is why, it is necessary to note that the usage of such positive reinforcement as extrinsic rewards should be discussed from different perspectives in order teachers could have the opportunity to assess all the aspects of the issue and develop the most appropriate program of using these methods of motivating students.

References

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Bloom, L. (2009). Classroom management: Creating positive outcomes for all students. USA: Merrill/Pearson.

Brady, L., & Scully, A. (2005). Engagement: inclusive classroom management. French’s Forest: Pearson Education.

Charles, C. (2008). Building classroom discipline. USA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Edwards, C. H., & Watts, V. (2008). Classroom discipline and management. Australia: John Wiley & Sons.

Gordon, C., Arthur, M., & Butterfield, N. (1996). Promoting positive behaviour: An Australian guide to classroom management. Australia: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Jones, V.F., & Jones, L. (2007). Comprehensive classroom management: Creating communities of support and solving problems. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Konza, D., Grainger, J., & Bradshaw, K. (2001). Classroom management: A survival guide. Katoomba, NSW: Social Science Press.

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Porter, L. (2007). Student behaviour: Theory and practice for teachers.. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Rogers, B. (2007). Behaviour management: A whole school approach). London, UK: Paul Chapman.