B.F. Skinner • 1904-1990. Origins and career at Harvard University . Famous for his work with pigeons, rats and babies (air-crib) • Draws from school of Behaviourist Psychology Ivan Pavlov : Pavlov’s dog, stimulus and response. Watson (1914) : ‘Psychology as the behaviourist views it’ Classical Conditioning • Operant Conditioning • Skinner believed all human behaviour could be explained in terms of responses to environmental stimuli • In particular student behaviour can be controlled with a schedule or program of reinforcement.
Behaviour Modification • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ctJqjlrHA
Operant Conditioning • Defined as ‘The reinforcing of behaviour and the reinforcing of its relationship to specific consequences .’ (Fetherstone, 2006, p108) • In other words people operate (work, manipulate) on their environment to gain what they desire (reward). • Essential to these views are the knowledge of: • Overt or observable behaviour • What reward is appropriate for that behaviour • When the reward or reinforcement should be applied • Four methods of reward/punishment: Positive and Negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction
Positive Reinforcement • ‘...refers to the increase in the likelihood or probability of a response that is followed by a favourable consequence.’ (Kazdin, 2001, p50) • For example, a pigeon is awarded food for performing a certain type of behaviour and this behaviour is likely to be repeated. • Types of positive reinforcers: food and consumables, social reinforcers, high probability behaviours, feedback and tokens.
Negative Reinforcement • ‘...refers to the increase in the likelihood or probability of a response by removing an aversive event immediately after the response has been performed.’ (Kazdin , 2001, p53) • For example if a pigeon experienced a continuous electric shock the pigeon is more likely to peck the bar to cease such an aversive event. • This is similar to taking a headache tablet for a migraine. • By withholding punishment for a student this is likely to illicit the desired response from the student.
Punishment • ‘...is the presentation or removal of a stimulus or event after a response, which decreases the likelihood or probability of that response.’ (Kazdin, 2001, p56) • For example a pigeon is likely to stop or decrease the behaviour of pecking a bar if it receives an electric shock. • A punishment is ‘...any stimulus or event that is perceived by the student as ‘bad’ or aversive.’ (Edwards & Watts, 2008, p64) • Punishment is seen as a last resort. It is applied only after positive approaches have been exhausted or when a quick resolution to a situation is needed.
Extinction • ‘...refers to the cessation of reinforcement of a response that results in a decrease in the likelihood or probability of the behaviour in the future.’ (Kazdin , 2001, p 57) • For example if all reinforcers (rewards and punishment) are withdrawn for a pigeon pecking a bar then the pigeon is likely to lower the frequency of this behaviour or cease altogether. • Examples of extinction include: • The withdrawal of attention (ignoring). • Response cost (fines of money and time). • Time outs (the withdrawal of peer reinforcers).
Positive Reinforcement Advantages • Has been shown to increase the quality and quantity of schoolwork • Has been shown to eliminate discipline problems • Will reinforce positive behaviours • When appropriately used, it is one of the most powerful behaviour changing tools • The most frequently used and most popular strategy
Positive Reinforcement Disadvantages • May cause children to lose interest in learning when rewards are not supplied and replace intrinsic motivation • The more that rewards are used, the more they are seen to be needed • Impractical to always give reinforcement immediately • May distract or interrupt the desired behaviour • May need two or three different reinforcement programs to decrease or eliminate undesirable behaviour
Negative Reinforcement Advantages • Has been shown to increase desired behaviours • Value of the strategy is often underestimated
Negative Reinforcement Disadvantages • Requires an ongoing averse event that can be terminated when the desired behaviour occurs (nagging, pain, loud noise) • Must be delivered frequently before reinforcement can occur • Often leads to undesirable side effects • Often difficult to administer and must be carefully controlled so that it can be terminated immediately and as soon as the desired behaviour occurs • Can result in aversive and avoidance behaviour
Punishment Advantages • May be effective in the short term • Results in students rapidly being able to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour • May reduce the incidence of inappropriate behaviour in all class members • Reduces the probability of occurrence of unacceptable behaviour • Many situations exist in which it seems effective and desirable – when there is no other option
Punishment Disadvantages • Does not show how to behave and does not lead to desired behaviour • May cause resentment, withdrawal, aggression, fear or avoidance • May create a negative reaction in peers • May stop students from learning • May have long term negative effects on feelings towards learning • Students may become sneaky to avoid getting caught • The punishment must be applied immediately and consistently • May backfire if students enjoy the extra attention • More likely to have negative side effects than positive side effects
Extinction Advantages • Possible that this strategy has fewer aversive side effects than punishment • Leaves the person in the learning position • Works well with positive reinforcement to reduce inappropriate behaviour and increase positive behaviour
Extinction Disadvantages • May spend a considerable time to reach the desired behaviour • May be difficult not to attend to some behaviours eg. Destructive or disruptive behaviour • May have emotional side effects such as frustration, anger and confusion
In a Nutshell • Question: What strategy is best? • Answer: There is a place for all strategies and they are most effective when used in combination • Issues to understand • Need to know the desired or undesired behaviour • Need to know a suitable consequence for the behaviour • Need to know a suitable time to remove or supply the consequence
Reference Edwards, C, H. & Watts, V. (2008). Classroom Discipline and Management (Australasian 2nd Ed.). Milton, QLD. John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd Fetherstone , T. (2006). Becoming an Effective Teacher. Cengage Learning. Kazdin, A,E. (2001) . Behaviour Modification In Applied Settings (6th ). Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Thomson Learning. Youtube Video: Skinner and Operant Conditioning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ctJqjlrHA Pictures http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/Faculty/wasserman/Glossary/skinner.jpg http://www.thesimpsonsquotes.com/images/skinnerpointing.gif http://www.xtratime.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=21178&stc=1&d=1192125404