The stimuli and responses are linked together 38 like

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Unformatted text preview: nforced for bringing in two assignments. Once this is established, the student is reinforced for three assignments. Chaining. A behavioral chain is a series of stimuli and responses that are connected in sequence (Gagne′, 1977). In a typical chain, one stimulus cues a response that is reinforced. The reinforcement then serves to cue the next response in the chain, and so on. The stimuli and responses are linked together 38 like a chain, with one link connected to the next. The notion of behavioral chains has implications for both instruction and management. Chaining as an instructional design idea involves identifying the discrete simple behaviors that make up complicated behaviors and teaching those simpler behavior one at a time and in an appropriate sequence (Alberto & Troutman, 1999; Mayfield & Chase, 2002). For example, if a teacher wanted to teach students how to balance a chemical equation, the steps in balancing the equation would be identified, and the students would be taught to do each step correctly in sequence. The results of performing each step would now be the antecedent for the next step. Chaining also has relevance as a classroom management idea. On occasion, you will find it useful to think about misbehavior as a sequence of events that are chained together. For example, whenever one of your students leaves his chair, he usually gets in a fight with another student. When you intervene with the fight, this often leads to extreme belligerence on the part of this particular student. In this example, the fighting and out-of-seat behaviors are linked together. This understanding could be very useful, because if you can intervene successfully with the out-of-seat behavior, then the number of fighting incidences could also be reduced. You also might find that you are better equipped to manage the out-of-seat behavior than the fighting and belligerence 39 that follows. Looking for behavioral chains allows you to make choices about when to intervene with a behavior. Here are some additional ideas to consider as you decide how to use chaining and shaping in your classroom. • Help students set improvement goals. When they achieve a goal, increase the challenge level. • When teaching a complicated skill with multiple steps, introduce each step separately at first. Also, make sure students have any necessary prerequisite skills for what they are about to learn. • Be aware of curricula guides or scope and sequences that tell you what knowledge or skills your students need to be developing at this point in their education. • Look for behavioral chains in the classroom. For example, with some volatile students there are situations that predictably set them off. Try to reduce these types of situations. Behavioral Learning Theory: The On-Going Debate Almost from its first applications in schools, behavioral learning theory has produced controversy. Even today, the use of behavioral techniques in classrooms continues to be debated. This debate tends to focus around both the...
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