ANECDOTES ON SKINNER’S OPERANT CONDITIONING:

 

map

On Rewards:
The use of positive reinforcements has been truly effective in producing an acceptable pattern of behaviors. I myself benefited from it. Thus, schools worldwide still use rewards to motivate students. However, teachers and authorities must be wary not to overuse this strategy so that students will not form a misconception of the raison d’ etre of learning. Proper scheduling of giving rewards must be taken into consideration. They should not be given all the time; instead an interval should be followed. Please see this link for more details. http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/behavior/operant.html
An Anecdote on Punishments:
Schools consider learning as holistic. They do not only develop the minds of students but also their social behaviors. A very common problem in universities nowadays is the inability to effectively implement rules on proper attire regulations. In our university, we have a so called “wash day.” All students are allowed to be in civilian clothes every Wednesday as long as they wear the proper attire. Those who do not abide by the rule are not allowed to enter the school premises. Some sort of punishment awaits offenders.
However, despite strict implementation there is quite a number of students in mini-skirts and sleeveless blouses who loiter in school. Punishments cannot stop those who think rules are administered inappropriately. Some won’t mind reporting to the office for such violations because for them punishments are only temporary. Moreover, some come up with the “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” scheme by wearing jackets whenever authorities are around and later removing them when these authorities are out of sight.
Punishments in schools and in homes tend to create feelings of fear, rage and/ or flight. To some, punishments may help them realize their misbehavior; however, in most cases, punishments leave a feeling of hatred towards authorities. As an alternative to punishments we may try to understand the source or reason of misbehavior, tell students what they should do instead and use reinforcements to reward desired behaviors.

My Personal Encounter with Positive and Negative Reinforcement Conditioning
The topic on positive and negative reinforcements reminded me of my first year in teaching so many years ago. One of the challenges I encountered as a teacher in college was how to get a bunch of rowdy students follow a young and newly minted instructor like me. Sometimes, assignments seemed to be made only for the responsible students who comply with requirements. But as a teacher, I felt I had the duty to make sure that all students will pass even those who are not concerned with passing the subject at all.
Pardon me for my concept map below. This is the first time I heard about it and my researches on how to make it finally led to the creation of this one. I hope it is correct.

Using positive reinforcements:
I wanted my students to finish an assignment. I promised to give additional grades to those who will comply. The responsible ones submitted their assignments and were given additional grades.

Using Negative Reinforcements:
To motivate the others who are not concerned with getting additional grades, I used the negative reinforcement conditioning. I announced a forthcoming graded recitation. (Though at the back of my mind, I have no plans of having one.) If all the members of the class will submit their assignments on due date, the graded recitation will be cancelled.

Notice that the yellow boxes in the illustration below represent behavior. Both positive and negative reinforcements resulted to “an increase in behavior.” The difference is in the Stimuli (pink box). Positive reinforcements “add” rewards while negative reinforcements “subtract” aversive events like graded recitations.
References:
Citation: Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (1997). An introduction to operant (instrumental) conditioning. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date] from, http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/behavior/operant.html

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