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The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the behavioral modification approach by addressing it strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, I will introduce the finder the underlying assumptions, and the concepts of the approach. Secondly, I will present some criticisms with respect to its theory and application. Finally, I will defend both the theory and its application and focus on how teachers might benefit from learning such an approach and its application.
The techniques in the behavioral approach are effective tools for altering students' maladaptive behaviors when a teacher utilizes them skillfully and appropriately. In addition to preparation and organization of class material, teachers have to face problems of classroom management such as misbehaviors of students. One of the most effective approaches they can use is the behavior modification approach. This approach uses principles in operant conditioning, that is, rewarding the on-task or good behaviors and punishing the off-task or bad behaviors. B.F. Skinner, a positivist (who believes science should be studied in an observable way), is the founder of the behavioral modification approach. He claims that the unconscious is not empirical or observable, and therefore, should not be studied (Wheldall & Merrett, 15).
According to the operant learning theory, learning results from the interaction between behavior and environment. The relationship between behavior and environment is best illustrated by an A-B-C model, in which A refers to the antecedent environment, B refers to a single occurrence of a specific behavior, and C refers to environmental consequences (Martin & Sugarman, 70). C is very important because some weaken them. The change in behavior is referred to as learning.
The underlying assumptions of the approach includes that: 1) behavior must be observable; 2) behavior is learned; 3) the interaction between environment and behavior is reciprocal, that is, behavior is a function of environment and vice versa' and 4) humans are not passive, but instead, they are active creators of their environment (Martin & Surgarman, 70).
In order to understand this approach, there are several terms that need to be defined. Reinforcers are consequences which strengthen behavior and punishers are consequences which weaken behavior. For the next four concepts, "+" means imposition of stimuli and "-" means removal of stimuli. Positive reinforcement refers to the imposition of appetitive stimuli to strengthen behavior (ie. A teacher gave a sticker to a student as a reward for his outstanding accomplishment). Negative reinforcement refers to the removal of the aversive stimuli to strengthen behavior (ie. A teacher cancelled the detention because the students arrived promptly on Friday). Positive or type 1 punishment refers to the imposition of aversive stimuli to weaken behavior (ie. A student was laughed at by his classmates because he asked irrelevant questions in class). Negative or type 2 punishment refers to the removal of the appetitive stimuli to weaken behavior (ie. Time out - a student was led to an !
isolated room until he was ready to join the happy group again).
Another form of punishment is "extinction", which is simply non-reinforcement of behavior. This is best illustrated in the "attention-ignorance strategy", where teacher pays attention to on-task behaviors and ignores the off-task behaviors. Different types of reinforcers include social reinforcement (ex. Smiles), activity reinforcers (ex. Games), and token reinforcer (ex. Trading stamps). The activity reinforcers are particularly useful in classroo
Names mentioned in this term paper
Martin, Sugarman, B.F. Skinner, Stephens, Merrett, George Allen, Thoresen, Carl.,
Organizations talked about in this essay
National Society for the Study of Education.,
Locations included in this essay
Ohio, London, Chicago, Calgary,
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Keywords included in this research material
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