Monday, June 19, 2023

Operant Conditioning in the Classroom

 One topic that was discussed that I found extremely interesting was about operant conditioning, and the influence it can have on encouraging or discouraging behavior. Specifically, I looked further into the effect operant conditioning can have when teachers use it in a classroom setting to manage student behavior. Effective classroom management is an important component of running a safe, nurturing learning environment that allows all the students the opportunity to learn without distracting behavior from others. If teacher understand the benefits and different ways operant conditioning can be used in their classroom, they may have less or no problems with classroom management. 

Teachers can use operant conditioning to reward (reinforce) behavior that they want or punish (decrease) behavior that they don't want. When a student does something the teacher approves of, like raising their hand to answer a question, the teacher can immediately reward the student. This can be done by giving the student something positive like praise, or taking away something negative like homework. The reward will increase the probability that the student repeats that specific behavior, while the other students in the class also observe the reward, and perform that behavior as well to also get the reward. It also works to punish a student for undesirable behavior, like for example hitting. The teacher can add something negative to decrease a particular behavior like extra homework, or take something desirable away like recess time. The punishment the will decrease the probability of that student repeating that behavior, and may cause the other students to avoid performing that undesirable behavior to avoid receiving the punishment. 

I agree that operant conditioning is an extremely powerful tool for educators to be aware of, and when used correctly and appropriately it can change everything about a classroom. Teachers can also get creative when coming up with different, fun ways to incorporate operant conditioning in the classroom that make it appealing for students to behave. For example, a teacher can incorporate a sticker chart, a traffic light system, prize bin, etc. that can be altered to be a punishment or a reward, and can be tweaked to suit specific student needs if necessary. To conclude, understanding simple psychological theories and knowing how they can be applied in different situations can be extremely helpful in different, unrelated fields. 

Reference: Renner, R. (2018, August 1). How to use operant conditioning in the classroom | synonym.

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