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Pavlovs classical conditioning , from Skinners point of view, was a highly

specialized form of learning utilized mainly by animals and playing little part in
human conditioning. Skinner called Pavlovian conditioning respondent
conditioning since it was concerned with respondent behavior- that is behavior
that is elicited by a preceding stimulus. Skinner believed that it is simply more
productive to study observable behavior rather than internal mental events.
Operant Conditioning
Skinners operant conditioning attempted to account for most of human
learning and behavior. Skinner believed that the best way to understand
behavior is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences. He called
this approach operant conditioning.
Skinners theory of operant conditioning was based on the work
of Thorndike (1905). Edward Thorndike studied learning in animals using a
puzzle box to propose the theory known as the 'Law of Effect'. Skinner
introduced a new term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement. Behavior which is
reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e. strengthened); behavior which is not
reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e. weakened).
A reinforcer is a stimuli that increase the probability of the response occurring
again. The Reinforcement is an act of following a response with a reinforce.
According to Skinner, the events or stimuli the reinforces- that follow a
response and that tend to strengthen behavior or increase the probability of a
recurrence of that response constitute a powerful force in the control of human
behavior. Reinforcers are far stronger aspects of learning than is mere
association of a prior stimulus with a following response. We are governed by
the consequences of our behavior.
If, when an organism emits a behaviour (does something), the consequences
of that behaviour are reinforcing, it is more likely to emit (do) it again. What
counts as reinforcement, of course, is based on the evidence of the repeated
behaviour, which makes the whole argument rather circular.
Learning is really about the increased probability of a behaviour based on
reinforcement which has taken place in the past, so that the antecedents of
the new behaviour include the consequences of previous behaviour.

There are two kinds of reinforcements:

Positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior by providing a


consequence an individual finds rewarding.
The removal of an unpleasant reinforcer can also strengthen behavior.
This is known as negative reinforcement because it is the removal of
an adverse stimulus which is rewarding to the animal. Negative
reinforcement strengthens behavior because it stops or removes an
unpleasant experience.

It is not always easy to distinguish between punishment and negative


reinforcement. Punishment is defined as the opposite of reinforcement since
it is designed to weaken or eliminate a response rather than increase it.
Negative reinforcement is not punishment; reinforcement is an
increase in the probability of behavior, while punishment is a
decrease.

Skinner's theory of operant conditioning uses both positive and negative


reinforcements to encourage good and wanted behavior whilst deterring bad
and unwanted behavior. Psychologists have observed that every action has a
consequence, and if this is good, the person is more likely to do it again in the
future. However, if the consequence isn't so great, it is likely the individual will
avoid doing it in a similar situation next time round. It is through this process
that we develop our behaviors and begin to understand what is appropriate
and useful, and what isn't. One of the main ways of reinforcing a behavior is
through praise, as the following example: During 'listening time' on the carpet,
pupils are required to remain quiet and put their hand up when they want to
make a vocal contribution to the class. When a child manages to sit and
behave in the exemplary way, the teacher may say, 'Great effort, Jamie' or,
'Well done, Louise - just like I asked'. Undoubtedly, the student will feel pleased

with themselves after getting such a positive response. The feeling of pride and
self-satisfaction is one they are going to want to emulate in the future, and so
they are likely to behave well during 'listening time' from here onwards.
Simple though it may be, the teacher has now managed to educate the pupil
on the type of behavior she expects, and through positive reinforcement, the
child will probably feel determined to impress next time round - a positive
outcome for both parties: the teacher, and the child.
But , what happened with students errors in a classroom? Is it a negative
reinforcement to correct students errors?
All humans beings learn by trial and error, experimenting to see what works
and what doesnt. errors often show us that a student is experimenting with
language, trying out ideas, taking risks, attempting to communicate.
Skinner felt that punishment, or negative reinforcement, was just another way
of calling attention to undesired behavior and therefore should be avoided: (I
think we have to correct students errors otherwise they will never know what
is right and what isnt. we have to be discret when correcting errors, dont let
the student felt unconfortable when he-she is being corrected. )