Psychology in Action

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psychology. We also believe it may be helpful to someone reading this manual to see that we all have the same "talkative student" problems. Feel free to share this story with your class. It provides a good discussion of the problems associated with punishment. Active Learning Activity 6.5 - Brainstorming Speaking of problems with punishment (activity 5.2), have you noticed the incredible resistance to this topic? While psychologists generally accept the overwhelming evidence against the use of punishment, the general public (our students) remains committed to its value. One of the best ways we have found to "get around" this resistance is a very simple brainstorming session. Ask students to form small groups. Tell them you will give a prize (or points) to the one group with the longest list for the Instructor’s Resource Guide Chapter 6          Page   196
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disadvantages of punishment. Give them about five minutes. Have the leaders of two or three groups with the highest number come to the front of the room and put their answers on the board. In one class we once had over 70 different problems! This activity really works. The board will be completely covered with various problems. Use their responses to build your lecture on the advantages of reinforcement over punishment. Active Learning Activity 6.6 - Operant Conditioning--"Students as Rats" If you have a Skinner box, there are several class demonstrations you can do. You can ask one of your students to come up to the front of the room and pretend to be a rat (or pigeon) by pressing the bar in the Skinner box. You can then reinforce the student "rat" on some unknown schedule and ask the student or the rest of the class to guess the schedule. If you have access to a rat (our department keeps two as pets), you can demonstrate shaping and various schedules of reinforcement with the rats in the classroom. (We have found it helpful to keep one rat naive, and to shape the other to bar press for food reinforcement.) Active Learning Activity 6.7 - Shaping Student Behavior To demonstrate shaping, ask for a volunteer and tell him or her to go out of the room while classmates decide on a behavior they wish to shape. Make sure they choose a simple behavior that will not consume too much class time or embarrass the volunteer. Ask the volunteer to come back into the classroom. Explain that every time he or she performs the desired behavior, the class will clap. When the desired behavior is not being performed, the class will not clap. (If you know your volunteer and think that he or she can handle it, you might also try using punishment, where the class frowns or "boos" when the person performs a behavior the class members have previously decided they want to decrease. This should prove to be much more difficult, but it helps to point out the inherent difficulties in punishment.) Active Learning Activity 6.8 - Shaping the Instructor's Behavior An interesting activity is to mention to students that shaping has also been used by "dedicated" graduate students in psychology to shape professor's behavior. For example, pacing behaviors can be
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