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Friday, March 12, 2010

Negative Reinforcement: A Teacher Intervention That Can Be Used To Manage Student Behavior

When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinically tested best practices. In particular, behavioral psychology theorists and practitioners have observed that by giving or withdrawing certain positive, and/or negative reinforcers after a student’s behavior is emitted, that student’s behavior can be changed or modified.

The chart at the top of the post identifies several ways that teachers can modify a student’s behavior through manipulating the consequences. You can present something positive- (box 1), present something negative-(box 2), withdraw something positive-(box 3), or withdraw something negative-(box 4). The arrows indicate that behavior will either increase (i.e. arrow pointing up), or decrease (e.g. arrow pointing down).

In today’s post we will describe and give a concrete example of how a teacher might use negative reinforcement as a method to increase a desirable student behavior (i.e. students doing their homework assignment.)

Box 4 is perhaps the most confusing to understand. In this case, the teacher can WITHDRAW something that is perceived by the student to be NEGATIVE, after that student has performed something that is equally distasteful to him or her. How might this intervention, negative reinforcement, work? If we know that a student (a) does not like doing homework, and (b) especially dislikes taking tests, we can eliminate that student's having to take a quiz, if he or she has done all of his/her homework correctly. In Box 4 the arrow points upward because negative reinforcement tends to encourage that student to emit the desirable behavior, in this case doing all the homework correctly. The handout below the chart at the top of the post offers a specific classroom application for negative reinforcement.

On the next post we will begin a new segment on the blog. We will describe specific lesson plans on how to teach, develop or train pre-service and beginning in-service Judaic educators about the application of research-based and clinically tested best practices in teaching, lesson planning, and managing student behavior.

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