Jane has to first understand how elementary school students would behave in order to decide on appropriate techniques to change their behaviour. In consideration of understanding students’ behavior, according to Dada et al (2014), a survey was done with 200 participating teachers teaching elementary school students. With 50% of them concurring that bullying classmates, excessive noise making during lessons, use of profanities towards peers, defamation amongst students, stealing from classmates, dishonesty, fighting with each other, skipping classes, defiance towards teachers, acts of violence, acts of disruption in class, rudeness to teachers and peers, acts of destruction and tardiness are prevalent among the elementary students in the study area. With a range between 57% and 85% teachers agreeing to that statistic/statement?. It is also acclaimed that children cannot always decide for themselves if their behaviours are disordered and are usually dependant on their parents or teachers to determine so. Past studies on the subject pertaining undesirable behaviour of students in the classroom has showcased behaviours that included: lying, fighting and stealing amongst other behaviours. As study has shown that the general type of behavior portrayed by the students are usually undesirable, desirable behaviours would tentatively be overlooked by teachers. They would pay more attention to the undesirable behaviours portrayed by students, therefore leading to desirable behaviour in the students to be discriminated. Students tend to seek attention from people of power, in this case, the teacher. When they realise that displaying desirable behaviour would not garner as much attention as displaying undesirable behaviour would, students would think of ways to gain the attention of the teacher. Even if it meant that they would be punished for misbehaving (Tian et al, 2015).
For teachers to effectively modify students’ behaviour, they would not only be required to punish students portraying undesirable behaviours, but to also reinforce students portraying desirable behaviours. In Jane’s scenario, an example would be: when her students are not being responsive in class, she could encourage them to be responsive by rewarding them with longer break time. By adding something desirable, like giving longer break times, to encourage students to actively participate in class activities is a form of positive reinforcement. With that encouragement in mind, students will then work towards the reward and display the behaviour that the teacher wants. When the desirable behaviour is portrayed and repeated, it would mean that the behaviour has been modified. However, the teacher cannot constantly reward the students with many breaks. If too many breaks are given, the teacher would not have sufficient time to teach the syllabus needed to be covered. After the behaviour has been established, the teacher can pair praises together with positive reinforcement to further encourage the behaviour. So that when the behavior has been established, without having to offer the students a reward they will still display the desired behaviour. An example of offering praises to students would be telling the student that they did a good job in completing the task given to them and they should proud of themselves for completing the task and displaying such desirable behavior. The behaviour will then be naturally displayed without the students seeking to be rewarded (Caprara et al, 2015). According to Gourneau and Bonni (2014), the most compelling methods of modifying behaviours and class management are positive reinforcements accompanied by praises. As teachers greatly impact the behaviour of students, it is important that the teachers accentuate positivity to the students. Not only will the students be able to pick up on the positivity, they will also exhibit similar qualities without the prompt of an external factor.
Besides Jane’s class not being responsive during lessons, her students do not complete their assignments and homework. As it is known that students in general do not like having to do homework, to encourage students to do their work, Jane can reduce the amount of homework handed out to the students who has completed their previous homework. So while the students who did not complete their work are required to stay back after lesson to complete their undone work and more, students who have completed their work are allowed to leave class early. By doing so, Jane has paired negative and positive reinforcements for a more effective outcome. According to Slocum et al (2015), behaviour modification is most efficient when negative reinforcements are paired with positive reinforcements. The same studies also shows that there was a 79% decrease in undesirable behaviour when positive reinforcement is introduce and a 48% decrease when negative reinforcement is used. This statistic shows that when positive reinforcement is used as a follow up action from using negative reinforcement, modification of behaviour would be more successful.
According to Khan (2014), every student is different, the strategies mentioned may work on certain students and may not work on other students. After using such strategies for a period of time, the strategy may not be as efficient as when it was first used. This theory by Skinner, Operant Conditioning has its strengths and weaknesses. Its strength in using reinforcement to modify a students’ behaviour would be that the desired behaviour will be displayed when there is a reward given after the behaviour has been shown. The student will then correlate the reward to producing the desired behaviour that the teacher wants. Therefore, establishing the behaviour wanted by the teacher. However, the downside to this theory would be that the student would be reliant on the reward. Once the reward is removed, the behaviour displayed by the student would stop or the behaviour could reverse. In a sense where undesired behaviour would be displayed instead when the reward is not given. Similarly, when a student is punished for displaying an undesirable behaviour, they would change their behavior after and behave according to the teacher’s desired behaviour. This would also establish desirable behaviour as the student will correlate punishment to the undesired behaviour therefore, not display the behaviour completely. However, when this theory is used inappropriately or under the wrong context, it could cause more harm to the student. The student would not repeat the behaviour in fear of being punished, even if the behaviour was displayed with good intent. Which could affect the mental growth on the student. Using reinforcement to modify behaviour usually takes time before modification of behaviour can be seen. Therefore it is uncommon amongst teachers to use this theory even though it provides better result in the long run. Teachers would prefer to punish students to achieve desirable behaviour as it takes effect quicker (Maag, 2001).
Skinner’s theory emphasises on the external factors that affects a person’s behaviour, whereas Bandura’s theory covers both the cognitive process and social factors that affect a person’s behaviour. This theory is where a student would find a role model, retain the information of the new behaviour into their long term memory, imitate their actions and find motivation to repeat the behaviour again.
Based on Bandura’s theory, Jane can pair her students up for group work. However, it is impractical to apply it in every lesson. Skinner’s theory can be applied generally in most lessons. Such as: praising students whenever they display desirable behaviour.
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