To avoid accidentally reinforcing the wrong behaviors

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Unformatted text preview: inforced, the effects of the reinforcement can potentially extend to behaviors that occur at about the same time, but are that not intended to be reinforced (Catania, 2000). To avoid accidentally reinforcing the wrong behaviors, tell students specifically why they are being reinforced. • The selected reinforcers need to have reinforcement potency for the students, which means that students value the reinforcers (Walker & Shea, 1995). You can identify potent reinforcements for your students by having them select the reinforcers they would like to earn (Maag, 1999; McEwan & Damer, 2000; Reid, 1999). • Over time students’ preferences for reinforcers can change (DeLeon, et al., 2001). There are a number of explanations for this, but in some cases, it is because students have satiated on the reinforcer (Reid, 1999). Satiation literally means to satisfy an appetite completely. 19 When students satiate on a reinforcer, it loses its potency. Because of these changes in preference, you will want to vary the available reinforcers periodically. • Reinforcers typically work better if they are unexpected. Rather than promising reinforcement for a behavior, provide the reinforcement when it seems natural and appropriate to do so. • When students are first acquiring a new behavior, there should be ample opportunities for reinforcement (See the discussion of schedule of reinforcement later in the chapter). Negative reinforcement. In the case of negative reinforcement, a behavior is more likely to occur because it allows the learner to avoid or escape an unpleasant event (Harlan, 1996; Skinner, 1953). In classrooms, students may engage in certain behaviors because these behaviors allow them to escape or avoid work demands or unwanted social interactions (Hagopian, Wilson & Wilder, 2001). For example, a student may misbehave in order to avoid having to do an assignment, or a student may intentionally procrastinate when dressing for physical education to avoid some of the class period. Consider these additional examples of negative reinforcement. 20 • Peter observes that if he works quietly during seatwork time, he can avoid being yelled at by the teacher. He works quietly in order to avoid the teacher’s reprimand. • Jonathan has learned that if he lies, it often allows him to avoid being punished. He lies in situations where he could get in trouble, in order to avoid getting in trouble. • Marissa learns that if she is trustworthy and keeps her friends’ secrets she can avoid losing his friends. • College students in an educational psychology class learn that if they close their notebooks and look at the clock at the end of class, the professor stops talking. Students start putting their books away every day and even a little earlier each day. Students have learned that “book putting away” behavior allows them to escape class lecture before it is over. When using negative reinforcement in your classroom, you would typically establish a contingency that all...
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