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OPERANT AND CLASSICAL CONDITIONING

Group#9: Brittany Biggar, Maegan Bishop, Jim Cain, and Andrew Kerssens
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
Association of automatic [involuntary] responses with new stimuli (Woolfolk, Winne, & Perry, 2016, p. 229).
It was discovered by Ivan Pavlov in the 1920s.
Although teachers may not consciously use this type of conditioning in the classroom, they will likely observe it
in their students. For example:
Elementary- A student who becomes nervous every time she reads in front of the class.
Middle School - A students hands become sweaty when he begins writing a test.
High School - A student becomes tense when playing a solo in the school band.
We can help students overcome undesirable involuntary responses by helping to recondition these experiences.
OPERANT CONDITIONING
Learning in which voluntary behaviour is strengthened or weakened by consequences or antecedents
(Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 230)

Antecedent

Behaviour

Consequence

Cues and Prompts

Reinforcement and Punishment

ANTECEDENTS

Antecedents are events that precede an action (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 230).
Cues and prompts are ways that teachers can use antecedents to influence behaviour change. Cues are stimuli
that set up a behaviour while prompts are reminders to follow the cues (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 235).

Elementary- A teacher places a poster in the classroom to remind students to keep their desks tidy (cue).
Middle School Students receive a checklist of common grammatical errors to refer to when editing (cue).
High School A teacher draws attention to the rubric before the students begin writing a paper (prompt).
REINFORCEMENT
A consequence that strengthens behaviour (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 231). Note: this strengthened behaviour
may or may not encourage learning or be desired by the teacher (see some examples below).

Positive reinforcement involves adding a desired stimulus to after a behaviour.


Elementary- A student receives a sticker and words of praise for good work on a spelling test.
Middle School - A student receives extra free time in the gym after good class behaviour.
High School Students laugh and high five a peer who has made an inappropriate comment.

Negative reinforcement involves taking away (subtracting) an aversive stimulus after a behaviour.
Elementary- A class is missing recess, but students who finish their work are permitted to go outside.
Middle School A student learns to lie in order to escape punishment.
High School - A student is relieved of 5 minutes detention time after completing her homework.

Reinforcement Schedules
Please note that the timing of reinforcement greatly affects the outcome. Reinforced behaviour is best achieved when
reinforced continuously at the start and later reinforced intermittently (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 233).
PUNISHMENT
A consequence that suppresses behaviour (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 233). Important note: Be cautious when
using punishment. Often reinforcement may be used to influence behaviour more effectively. Always follow
punishment with a reinforcement so students know what they should be doing (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 242).
Some types of punishment:
o Reprimands (rebukes or criticisms; should be done in private, in a calm manner)
o Response Cost (loss of money, time, or privilege)
o Social Isolation (time-outs)
o Presentation Punishment vs. Removal Punishment (see chart below)

Behaviour Encouraged
Behaviour Suppressed


Presentation Punishment
Positive Reinforcement
Stimulus Presented

Stimulus
R
emoved

Negative R einforcement
Removal P unishment

or Withheld
(Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 233)
Elementary Items are taken away from a student after she throws them around the room (removal).
Middle School A teacher reprimands a student privately after an inappropriate word is used (presentation).
High School - A student is asked to sit out of a soccer game after showing aggression on the field (removal).

FORMS OF IMPLEMENTATION

Applied Behavioural Analysis - The process of applying behavioural learning principles in order to change or
understand behaviour (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 236).

Group Consequences When reinforcement or punishment is applied to a group rather than to individuals (Woolfolk
et al., 2016, p. 244).
Contingency Contracts - When the teacher creates a contract with a student wherein the student must achieve a
certain behaviour before earning a reward. (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 244)
Self Management - It is important to note that behavioural strategies can be implemented by students to manage
themselves. Goal setting, task monitoring, assessment, and reinforcement can all be used by students.
Functional Behavioural Assessments - When teachers focus on the why of student behaviour by studying
antecedents, behaviours, and consequences (Woolfolk et al., 2016, p. 247).

Premack Principle Set effective reinforcements by studying what students do in their free time (Woolfolk et al.,
2016, p. 238).

KSAs
1.
5.
7.
8.

Contextual variables affect teaching and learning.


All students can learn, albeit at different rates and in different ways.
Students needs for physical, social, cultural and psychological security.
The importance of respecting students human dignity.

REFERENCES

Woolfolk, A., Winne, P., & Perry, N. (2016). Education Psychology (Sixth ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.