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Unformatted text preview: ble classroom environment. Allow students to know your expectations. 12 • Make sure that students who are new to the classroom are given the support they need at first. For example, spend time going over your expectations with them. Operant Conditioning Our modern understanding of operant conditioning has developed primarily out of the work of B. F. Skinner (Skinner, 1938; 1953; 1958; 1974; Skinner & Epstein, 1982), but operant conditioning has its historical roots in empiricism and the ideas of E. L. Thorndike and J. B. Watson among others (Thorndike, 1905, 1949; Watson, 1913, 1919). Operant conditioning is a behavioral learning model that attempts to explain learning through the effects of both antecedents and consequences on behavior. However, the focus in operant conditioning is on how consequences may be used to produce learning, so we will begin there. Consequences Of several responses made to the same situation, those which are accompanied or closely followed by satisfaction to the animal will, other things being equal, be more firmly connected to the situation...those which are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort to the animal, will other things being equal, have their connections with that situation weakened (Thorndike, 1911, p. 244). 13 In this quotation, E. L. Thorndike (1874-1949) defined his original law of effect, which in turn formed the basis for the behavioral idea of a consequence. As we noted earlier, a consequence is a stimulus that occurs after a behavior has been emitted and that has the effect of making that behavior more or less likely to occur. Although Thorndike eventually revised his law of effect by dropping the potential for discomfort to make a behavior less likely, modern behavioral psychologists like B. F. Skinner (1953) have retained two types of consequences. Reinforcements are consequences, which have the effect of increasing or maintaining the likelihood that a behavior will occur again, while punishments are consequences that have the effect of decreasing the likelihood that a behavior will occur again (Sulzer-Azaroff & Mayer, 1991). Behaviorists further identify two types of reinforcement and two types of punishment, positive and negative reinforcement and presentation and removal punishment. Positive reinforcement. With positive reinforcement, a behavior is more likely to occur because when the behavior does occur, a valued or satisfying consequence is provided to the learner. For example, a student comes to class on time one day and the teacher praises the student for the on-time behavior. As a result, that student comes to class on time more frequently. In this case, praise is a positive reinforcer for the on-time behavior, because it is provided to the student 14 after the occurrence of the on-time behavior, and it has the effect of making the on-time behavior more likely to occur. A number of different environmental events can serve as positive reinforcers in the classroom (Alberto & Troutman, 1999; Becker, 1986; Duncan, Ke...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.

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