B.F. Skinner

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B.F. Skinner

The theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that learning is a function of change in overt behavior. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the enviornment. A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem. When a particular Stimulus- Response pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond. The distinctive characteristic of operant conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism is that the organism can emit responses instead of only elicting response due to external stimulus.

"Failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying." B.F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner

How do Skinner's theories, primarily positive reinforcement, speak to what it means to be educated? How is positive reinforcement utilized effectivly towards curriculum and instruction?

"Positive reinforcement for Children: The adding of a consequence that the child finds pleasant, dependant on a certain behavior or response by the child, which results in an increase in the liklihood of that behavior or response in the child due to the result or consequence." B.F. Skinner Skinner identifes five obstacles to learning. These obstacles include fear of failure, the task is too long and complicated, the task lacks directions, clarity in the directions is lacking, and there is little or no positive reinforcement present.

According to Skinner positive reinforcement can be used most effectivly immediatly following the behavior. Skinner conducted research to discover the effectiveness in certain situations of particular schedules of reinforcement. The different schedules include, continuous, fixed ratio, variable ratio, fixed interval, and variable interval. Depending on the child, the behavior, reinforcers available, and the reinforcer, different schedules will be more effective.

Good Job!

How should I choose a reinforcer?"Reinforcers must be individualized, valued and preferred." Observe- What kinds of activities, or objects does he or she like?Ask the Student- What would the student like to work towards earning?Monitor- Periodically review by observation or discussion whether the reinforcer remains preferred or whether a new reinforcer is necessaryEvaluate- Do a formal preference assessment.

"We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement." B.F. Skinner: The Man and His Ideas, by Richard I. Evans, 1968

Types of Reinforcers:Natural- When a student studies for a test he or she earns a good grade.Token- Points being earned to use towards something of value.Social- Involve expressions of approval from a teacher, parents, or employer saying or writing "Good Job" or "Excellent work." Tangible- Involve the presentation of a reward such as candy, treats, toys, money, or other desired objects.

Excellent Work!


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