It is difficult if not possible to measure what’s going on in a student’s mind at a specific moment. The students appeared to be paying attention were actually thinking non-academic issues, is not interested, is not motivated, is preoccupied with himself, among many other reason for non participation at school. Reinforcement rooted in the classic work of James Watson and B. F. Skinner. My discussion will include techniques, for increasing, decreasing, and maintaining behavior. There are many things to consider in the application of reinforcement so as to elicit behavior or the desired behavior.

To give into consideration is that, reinforcement is more effective when it is immediate. If a response of a student is no longer reinforced, as in ignoring a given answer of a student every time a teacher throws a question or unintentionally took it for granted, the learner if again called his attention to give his answer will eventually given up the response. Another is, desired action are encouraged by a reinforcement specifically social reinforcement, which typically include attention can be verbal or nonverbal. For example, the expression on your face can carry an unmistakable message to a student.

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Usually, however, social reinforcers are verbal either accompanying some other form of reinforcement (“John, you can act as class monitor because of the way you behave in gym”) or taking the forms of words or phrase that signal your pleasure about the specific behavior. Social reinforcers expression, contact, proximity, privileges, and words. Giving positive remarks as the reinforcement every time the student performed better, finished a task or cooperate in the school activities are helpful in strengthening the students behavior or the possibilities of the repetition of the same positive behavior.
A very shy child may find it difficult to join into classroom activities, specially if the school experience is new to her. The teacher’s role is to involve the child in the classroom activities. The child’s behavior should only be recognized when she is at the activity, though not necessarily participating. For example, when the child sits with the group at circle time, sits at a table where manipulative games or arts projects are provided.
An activity within easy reach, when she is within easy reach of an activity, reinforce her, by praising and recognizing her behavior. Provide a reinforcement for every involvement in classroom activities as you notice it. A good reinforcement starts out with continuous reinforcement at the beginning stage of learning. Tangible reinforcers such as cookies and badges for young students or notes to parents or certificates for older students are just few examples which are necessary in the appliance of reinforcement so as to achieved desired outcome.
In giving reinforcement, as progress in the skill or behavior develops, less emphasis should be placed on tangible reinforcers, such as food and tokens, while more emphasis should be given to social reinforcers, such as praise and attention. Reinforcement is given only after the learner gains sufficient skill at a task, be it participating in group work or writing, that later be strengthened or reinforced that later becomes automatic and habitual. Constant reinforcement means reinforcing the behavior of the student every time he participates.
Applying a continuous reinforcement produces best results especially in new learning or conditioning situations. In education, we invoke behaviorism by awarding grades for various levels of performance that the more a student manifests interest in school/ classroom the more the behavior is reinforced so as to expect the same responses or behavior. If you wish to use positive reinforcers, and we all do, deliberately or otherwise, then you must be aware of how you use them. The following should put into consideration first; consider the age, interest, and needs of the students.
Pieces of candy are not too motivating for adolescents, but they must be great for first-graders; know precisely the behavior you wish to strengthen and make your reinforcers sufficiently desirable; list potential reinforcers that you think would be desirable; vary your reinforcers and keep record of the effectiveness of various reinforcers on individual students. Positive reinforcement is a powerful principle and can be applied to great advantage in the classroom. All of us who teach, from the preschool to the doctoral level, use positive reinforcement.
We must avoid, however, making students too dependent on the reinforcement we provide, particularly if we have initiated structured programs for students. We want them to work for those reinforcers that are natural to them. Punishment is a stimulus that follows a behavior and decreases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. It can be use to reduced inappropriate behavior but should be done sparingly as even psychologists advice it’s application in moderation. For instance, giving deductions or minuses on the accumulated grade in assignment every time a student misbehave e.
g. shouting while the class in going on, decreases the likelihood of the behavior to be repeated. But when a student is not rewarded for appropriate or adaptive behavior, inappropriate or maladaptive behavior may become increasingly dominant, then punishment sinks in to eliminate such undesirable behavior. Sometimes, however, when the goal is to reduce or eliminate misbehavior, teachers consider using punishment (aversive procedures). A word of warning. Don’t fall into the trap of relying punishment.
It’s easy; it frequently works for a short time (although not as well with the secondary school students); and gives you a feeling of having established control. Punishment can destroy rapport with the students if excessively used, it produces a ripple effect that touches all students and affects one’s teaching and it may have side effects of which a teacher is unaware. In general, reinforcing alternative behavior is a far better method than punishment. Sources: Elliot et al. ,(2004). Educational psychology 3rd ed. USA: McGrawHill. Essa,V. (1999). A practical guide to solving preschool behavior problems. New York:Delm

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