Skinner's Behaviorist Theory
Skinner saw that classical conditioning didn't account for the behavior most of us are interested in, such as riding a bike or writing a book. His observations led him to propose a theory about how these and similar behaviors, called operants, come about. He developed the reinforcement theory while working with lab rats in devices he called 'Skinner boxes'. These boxes consisted of a metal cage with an electrified wire floor and a food pellet dispenser that delivers food into the food tray when a bar is pressed down. He found that the food pellets served as a reinforcer and increased the rat's rate of ...view middle of the document...
It should be noted that negative reinforcement is not equated with punishment. When either positive or negative reinforcement is used, a desired behavior increases. When punishment is used, a behavior will decrease. In this sense, pre-school educators should avoid punishing the child, instead they should use the reinforcers at an early childhood educational setting.
Schedules of Reinforcement
When the desired behavior is gained as a result of reinforcement, reinforcing again and again becomes too time-consuming. An abrupt stoppage of the reinforcement would cause the performance of the desired behavior to weaken. Therefore, a gradual thinning of reinforcement is necessary. Schedules of reinforcement are the rules for how a reinforcer is presented following a behavior. They can be defined in terms of time (interval) or number of responses (ratio). Specifically pre-school teachers should follow the scheduling options below mentioned when implementing the reinforcement technique within the classroom.
Fixed interval: Reinforces behaviors at a specific time (ex. Every 5 minutes). One reinforcer would be delivered if at least one correct response was made during the time interval. The reinforced can become aware of the time length and, knowing he has to perform just once, will wait for the time limit to run out before beginning his next task.
Example: Rewarding the child at the end of every class period for good behavior.
Fixed ratio: Reinforces behaviors after a specific number of responses. The key here is to seek the right amount of work given the reward schedule. Normally a ratio schedule produces consistent work.
Example: Rewarding the child for every art activity produced.
Variable interval: Reinforces behaviors at various time intervals randomly. The student's behavioral performance is higher and steadier because he cannot determine the next time interval that will be used to make the reinforcement available.
Example: Rewarding the child at different times of the day for good behavior and he/she goes on behaving good while expecting the reinforcement.
Variable ratio: Reinforces behaviors after various numbers of responses randomly. It is done in such a manner that the reinforcer is not predictable, so the student maintains or even increases the pace of his output.
Example: Rewarding the child for some creative drama activities.
The second way of application of Skinner's theory may be at maintaining classroom management with the idea that using reinforcers could increase the frequency of productive behaviors and decrease the frequency of disruptive behaviors.
Contingency Contracting: This contract between the student and teacher specifies what behaviors are appropriate and which are not by listing what types of rewards or punishments will be received. Here, as punishments are undesirable especially in an early childhood setting, such a contract may be agreed upon only in terms of reinforcers.
Token economy: In a...