Case Study of Operant Conditioning

1075 WordsMar 25, 20135 Pages
Ms. Wyatt’s use of positive reinforcement misses the mark and creates the likelihood that the behavior it was intended to extinguish and correct will remain unchanged. This is due to many reasons, such as selection and implementation of the reinforcement, inconsistent reward parameters, and weakened standing of the teachers reasoning due to prior precedents. Further exploration of Ms. Wyatt’s methods will also reveal poor teaching practices that contribute to her lack of effectiveness when it comes to rewarding and reprimanding students. Ms. Wyatt’s attempt to use positive reinforcement to punish the undesirable behavior that three of her students were exhibiting, however, her efforts proved to be confusing and unfair to their intended targets and recipients. Ms. Wyatt had observed that one group of students was procrastinating and gossiping instead of working on their assignment. Ms. Wyatt did not attempt to correct the behavior of the group, nor did she encourage the group of girls to focus on the task at hand in a timely manner. Instead, Ms. Wyatt offered a positive reinforcement incentive to the entire class, though she knew that the group of girls that were procrastinating had no hope of receiving the prize. The problem with this method of delivering the positive reinforcement, however, is that it benefited students that did not need an incentive to continue behaving in a manner that was desirable and conducive to learning. Another issue that this presented was that the positive reinforcement came across as a negative punishment for her intended recipients. Free time is an effective reinforcement, but do to the fact that the time was given to students that would have behaved and performed without receiving a reward, the undesirable behavior of her intended target was not extinguished, and because she did not genuinely intend to offer the reward time to

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