Behaviorism

  1. 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.

 

Reward system, in many ways, has been successful in positively modifying behaviors of children and adults as well. Students would study hard for good grades, for exemption during exams or simply for recognition. Adults on the other hand, would work hard for a promotion or a raise (reward). As we have discussed in module 5, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that everyone has psychological needs of prestige and feeling of accomplishment. Rewards serve as a positive feedback mechanism that tells us that what we are doing is right, desirable and/or acceptable in the environment we are living. I believe we are wired to respond to rewards of any form.  They act as reinforcers (BF Skinner) of good deeds.  Praises and complimenting learners have been observed to boost the confidence and positive attitude of students towards learning.  However, I also believe that too much of everything is detrimental and counterproductive. Unregulated use of reward system may breed complacency and loss of internal motivation.   The learner may be motivated to act only because of the external rewards he is getting around him. Once these external rewards are taken out of the equation, it is possible that the person will act differently.

 

Spare the rod and spoil the child is a biblical statement that many of us Christians believe and practice till the present time. But I think that this has evolved in time and has become more of a literary statement than a practical instruction in terms of disciplining a child. The rod being mentioned here may not necessarily mean punishment by hitting but the use of discipline which can be verbal in the context of having a productive discussion. If it is necessary for us to punish, it should be carried out in a very careful manner.

 

Traditional Punishment according to John Stein is like a strong medicine. As with any strong medicine, potentially harmful side effects may occur. Some children are more susceptible than others to side effects. Medicines are necessary to cure patients but it requires the right kind, right amount and time to be administered correctly or it will intensify its adverse reactions.  In the same way, like doctors; teachers and parents must be well learned and skilled to take extra care when administering punishments for behavior modification.  It is very easy to go out of bounds when administering punishments because we see immediate results externally.  However, a lot of things happen internally that is not readily perceived by our naked eyes.  John stein has identified the side effects of punishments as follows:

  1. 1.      Lying, sneaking, deceit, blaming others. Children eventually learn to avoid getting caught.
  2. 2.      Lack of responsibility. Adults sometimes teach children to be responsible for their behavior by serving the punishment. Being responsible for your behavior means making things right, not serving a punishment.
  3. 3.      Don’t trust adults. When children are not sure they did the right thing, they will normally come to adults for advice, unless they fear they will be punished.
  4. 4.      See authority figures as adversaries. Punishment tends to make adversaries of adults and children. Children do not readily learn healthy values from adversaries.
  5. 5.      Lack of empathy, remorse, or guilt. Punishment does not teach empathy, which is necessary for remorse and guilt. Moreover, it tends to relieve guilt.
  6. 6.      Resentment and anger. People often feel hurt and misunderstood when they have been punished and become resentful and angry.
  7. 7.      Retaliation and aggression. Our children learn by watching us. When we punish, they sometimes learn to punish others when they feel hurt in some way.
  8. 8.      Rebellion. Traditional punishments involve power and control. People tend to rebel against power and attempts to control them, especially oppositional children.
  9. 9.      Emotional problems. When children get angry and misbehave, they sometimes believe that they are being punished for being angry rather than for misbehaving. When they believe that being angry is wrong, they feel that they deserve to be punished. Then their misbehavior does not feel wrong.
  10. 10.  Poor self-image. Children tend to see themselves through the eyes of others.  Knowing that adults think they deserve to be punished can be very damaging.
  11. 11.  Loss of confidence and motivation. Children who are punished sometimes feel they can’t do anything right and don’t try.
  12. 12.  Impulsive behavior.

The best way to reduce misbehavior is to provide abundant positive reinforcement for good behavior.(Gina Green Ph.D)

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

 

I Find REINFORCEMENTS (Positive and Negative) very useful for teachers and for this reason I will advocate it in practice.  It may not be perfect as it has its own share of criticisms but I think nothing beats a positive approach in class.  Words of encouragements and feedbacks do not cost anything and yet it can work wonders in motivating students to level up their performance. I believe reinforcements inspire learners in the most practical ways.
(b) Conversely, discuss aspects that you consider counter-productive, and will therefore discourage in practice

 

I believe that PUNISHMENT is very risky and therefore should be put to a minimum if it cannot be completely avoided. It has been said that punishments, especially in the hands of unskilled person, may emotionally and physically harm children. It tends to suppress children’s feelings and barely solves the deeper issues they may be experiencing at that time. If you want a loving, respectful, self-disciplined children you won’t use punishment. You will use appropriate parenting tools. For young children you will use diversion, structure, limits and withdrawal of attention. (Norine G. Johnson Ph.D.)

Moreover, I think that children who are taught to properly handle personal conflicts by  allowing them to verbalize and express what and how they feel become more responsible and matured individuals.

  1. 3.      Describe how the following behaviorist concepts apply in the classroom (positive uses for):
  • Extinction – The extinction phase is when the conditioned response no longer occurs after repeated pairings without the unconditioned stimulus.

– Elimination of the learned response by discontinuing reinforcement of that behavior. (B.F. Skinner)

For example:  A student has developed fear of participating in board work especially during recitations and class discussions.  He fears (learned response) of getting embarrassed (reinforcement) which may be traced from his previous experiences from another class.  To modify this behavior, his current teacher provides him with well constructed questions suited to his abilities that enable him to answer on the board and avoid being embarrassed. The student develops confidence and participates regularly in class.

 

  • time out –  is a form of disciplinary tool where a child is instructed to sit on a chair or stay in his room to calm down and think of what he did.  The child is then allowed to return and rejoin the group when he is ready to show appropriate behavior.

 

  • Positive and Negative Reinforcement.

 – According to B.F. Skinner, REINFORCERS increase desired behavior.  It could either be:

  • Positive Reinforcement – Increases the frequency of the desired behavior by adding something (application of stimulus).

 

For example:  Giving immediate positive feedback such as praises and compliments to students who submit their projects early encourages them to beat deadlines and become more productive.

 

Negative Reinforcement – Increases the frequency of the desired behavior by removing something (subtraction or removal of stimulus).

 

For example: When a subject teacher announces her plans of exempting  from the final exams students who meet the cut off grade for the semester, the students become motivated participate more, consequently improving their performance in class.

 

 

 

  • Generalization and Discrimination

 

  • Generalization – the tendency of a new stimulus similar to the orginal conditioned stimulus to produce a similar response.

–          Giving the same response to similar stimuli. (BF Skinner)

 

For example: Children may  generalize that people wearing white coat are doctors that administer parenteral(injections) vaccinations. They suddenly become anxious seeing people wearing white in the hospital.

 

In class, learners may generalize that all math subjects are difficult.  They may generalize all subjects that deal completely or partially with numbers are math subjects and consequently negatively affect their performance in class.

 

  • Discrimination – The opposite of generalization, discrimination happens when a conditioned response does not occur when there is a difference between the presented stimulus and the original conditioned stimulus. a response may be limited to a certain stimuli only.

–          Responding to certain stimuli but not others. (BF Skinner)

 

For example: Children who suffer from “white coat phobia” by generalizing that people in white coat administer parenteral vaccines, do not exhibit fear if they meet people wearing the white coat in the field, outside the hospital setting.

 

In class, the students learn that all subjects that deal with numbers are math related but not necessarily difficult.  They appreciate the teacher’s techniques and method of teaching and responds positively to him.

Sources:

Classical Conditioning.  http://www3.niu.edu/acad/psych/Millis/History/2003/ClassicalConditioning.htm

Classroom Management Theorists and Theories/Burrhus Frederic Skinner.http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Classroom_Management_Theorists_and_Theories/Burrhus_Frederic_Skinner

The Disadvantages of Time-Out. By Aletha Solter, Ph.D. http://www.awareparenting.com/timeout.htm

John Stein. http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0605-stein.html

Should You Punish Your Child? Gina Green Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200109/should-you-punish-your-child

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s