Using Behavioral Learning Principles in the Classroom Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Behavioral Principles in the Classroom

Some of the most effective techniques and principles to shape and promote positive behaviors in the classroom come from behavioral psychology. Teachers can implement techniques based on behavioral modification techniques in their classrooms by first setting strict rules that are simple, concrete, and straightforward and then by enforcing these rules in a consistent manner (O'Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2007). The general principles of behaviorism suggest that behaviors that are reinforced have a higher probability of being repeated, whereas behaviors that are not reinforced or punished are associated with a higher probability of NOT being repeated (Ulman, 1998). Therefore, the first step in applying behavioral principles to the classroom is to set and apply a specific set of rules or goals that need to be followed or reached.

Rules regarding appropriate class behaviors should be clear-cut and set at the beginning of the school year (O'Donnell et al., 2007). These rules should be posted in a highly visible area of the classroom so that students are always able to have access to them. On the first day of class teachers should go over each individual rule with the class and emphasize why the rule is important and explain the consequences of following the rule or not following the rule (these consequences can also be posted in a highly visible area as well). Without very specific and clear-cut rules that students have consistent access to for the whole school year teachers cannot expect these rules to be followed much beyond the first few days of class (O'Donnell, 2007; Ulman, 1998).

In addition, teachers can track and identify both negative and positive behaviors as they occur with the chart and place it in a visible area as well (this simple behavioral principle can eliminate many negative behaviors and foster positive behaviors as many students will not want to be associated performing an abundance of negative behaviors; Ulman, 1998). The teacher should also track and identify the antecedents and consequences surrounding students that engage in a disproportionately high number of negative or unwanted behaviors. The behavioral ABC model allows for the identification of events that precede a specific behavior and their consequences (O'Donnell et al., 2007). By identifying these antecedents (A) and consequences (C) of a behavior (B) a teacher can often simply change the environment that is associated with the unwanted behavior and this alone will result in significant change (O'Donnell et al., 2007). For example, if two students are consistently fighting simply minimizing the amount of contact the two students have in the classroom will reduce these conflicts. If a student is reinforced for negative behavior such as being praised by other students or the teacher for acting in such a manner the teacher can design strategies to punish or limit whatever types of any reinforcements are being given to student (O'Donnell et al., 2007).

Another approach to eliminating negative behaviors is to enact a reinforcement system for desired behaviors (O'Donnell et al., 2007). The famous behaviorist B.F. Skinner believed that reinforcing positive behaviors was much more effective in obtaining positive behaviors than punishing negative behaviors (O'Donnell et al., 2007). Reinforcement can consist of any number of "rewards" that can serve to remind students to pay attention to…

Sources Used in Documents:


McCann, T.M., Johannessen, L.R., Kahn, E. & Flanagan, J. (2006). Talking in class.

IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

O'Donnell, A.M., Reeve, J., & Smith, J.K. (2007). Educational psychology: Reflection for action. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Premack, D. (1965). Reinforcement theory. In D. Levine (ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation. (Vol. 13). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

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