1. Rewards are popularly believed to create positive consequences and punishments tend to lead to more negative consequences. Describe situations to (a) support and (b) contend / oppose these claims.

Everybody loves rewards. Who doesn’t? But when and how do we give it? I have something called classroom popcorn points. The idea is everyone should exemplify a good behavior and it has to be something that goes over and beyond what is expected from them. This set up works because I’m handling Grade 4. If it was in kindergarten, the kids would just stare at me and probably think that I’m losing my mind. I occasionally give out certificates to students but not to a point that everything is praised. I believe that there has to be a balance.  Giving out too many rewards loses its value.

I think negative reinforcement may also be used to enhance learning. It’s just a matter of how you phrase it. For example when my students are being rowdy just before recess, I would say “When all of the supplies are placed in blue container and everyone is sitting quietly on their chair, we will go outside. Until then, we will miss our recess” Sometimes I would not say anything and just stare at my watch.

(a)      Discuss aspects of behaviorism that you view to be productive and, hence, will advocate in practice.  

Giving out incentives can motivate the student to do well in class.

 (b) Conversely, discuss aspects that you consider counter-productive, and will therefore discourage in practice.

I’ve noticed that the more you raise your voice, the louder the class gets. Teachers need to learn that it’s not about how load your voice is. It’s about timing and content.

  1. Describe how the following behaviorist concepts apply in the classroom (positive uses for):
    • Extinction – [i]refers to the gradual weakening of a conditioned response that results in the behavior decreasing or disappearing.
    • Time out – I have something called “Think Sheet”. Basically when the student is being too rowdy, they are sent to time out and they need to fill up the” think sheet”. It gives them the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and find ways to solve the problem.
    • Positive and negative reinforcement (also demonstrate how they differ)

[ii]Reinforcement is used to help increase the probability that a specific behavior will occur with the delivery of a  stimulus/item immediately after a response/behavior is exhibited. The use of reinforcement procedures have been used with both typical and atypical developing children, teenagers, elderly persons, animals, and different psychological disorders.

[iii]There are two types of reinforcement: positive and negative. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Also, negative reinforcement is often confused with punishment.

[iv]Positive reinforcement is a very powerful and effective tool to help shape and change behavior. Positive reinforcement works by presenting a motivating item to the person after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen in the future.

[v]Negative reinforcement is when a certain stimulus/item is removed after a particular behavior is exhibited. The likelihood of the particular behavior occurring again in the future is increased because of removing/avoiding the negative stimuli. Negative reinforcement should not be thought of as a punishment procedure. With negative reinforcement, you are increasing a behavior, whereas with punishment, you are decreasing a behavior.

    • Generalization and discrimination (also demonstrate how they differ)

[vi]Generalization occurs when an organism makes the same response to similar stimuli. The size of the response typically depends on the degree of similarity. If a dog receives meat powder after hearing a 500 Hz tone, it will probably salivate when hearing a 450 Hz tone also, but not as much as it would to another 500 Hz tone. It would salivate less to a 400 Hz or 600 Hz tone…and even less to a 300 Hz or 700 Hz tone. Pavlov found that the greater the resemblance between stimuli used during training and stimuli used during testing the greater the generalization. In other words, more salivation would occur if a tone was close to the training tone, less salivation would occur if the tone was very different from the training tone.

However, no two situations are identical. If an organism notices differences between situations rather than similarities, generalization will not occur. For example, a horse that responds well to one rider may be stubborn for another. Would the students in Landauer’s class jump if one of their classmates stood up and shouted “Now!”? Maybe some would jump. If they did, they would be showing generalization. But others might not jump. They would be showing discrimination, the opposite of generalization. Discrimination is described in the next section.