Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

To properly manage a classroom, I feel it is important that teachers use some form of positive reinforcement techniques. As stated in the Positive Reinforcement article, “Positive reinforcement is anything that occurs after a behavior that increases the likelihood that the behavior will reoccur.” This reinforcement can be a supportive word, such as “good job on that group project,” or an extrinsic reward such as candy or extra recess time.

The article Positive Reinforcement explains that these rewards only hold value if the student has completed or accomplished a goal or achievement. If rewards or positive feedback are given to a student without the student earning it, then the extrinsic reward will not be meaningful and the positive behavior will not continue.

Positive Reinforcement focuses on group contingencies and the different ways that students can earn extrinsic rewards. Of all the methods that students can be assessed in group work for deserving positive reinforcement, I strongly support Independent Group-Oriented Contingency. The Positive Reinforcement article states “In an independent group-oriented contingency each student is only responsible for his or her own behavior. The only thing that makes this group-oriented is that everyone participating has access to the reinforcers on the same terms.”

I feel Independent Group-Oriented Contingency is a fair and appropriate way to assess student behavior. By allowing each student to be responsible for their own behavior, students can be rewarded for their efforts. Oftentimes, there is a student in the group that may be disruptive and ruin the extrinsic reward for the rest of the group. I do not feel that a student that is behaving and participating should be punished because another student is disruptive or uncooperative.

The second beneficial resource I discovered on the topic of positive reinforcement is How to Use Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom by April Sanders. This article presents instructions that will aid teachers in reinforcing student’s strengths as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses.

At the beginning of every school day, start the day off on a supportive note. Look for a student that is following directions well and praise this student instead of reprimanding the students that are disruptive or noisy. I feel this tip is helpful, because perhaps the misbehaving students will observe the praise a student that behaves is receiving and follow suit.

The tip “using praise specifically” is also an instruction that I support. I believe that if a teacher is going to praise a student, then the teacher should explain why the student is being praised. If the teacher says “good job” to a student, there may be confusion as to what the student was successful at, and the behavior may not occur again. However, if the teacher says “good job keeping your voice down during group work,” then the student may try to speak in a lower voice more often during group work because the teacher directed the praise towards a specific behavior.

When a good behavior or action arises, be immediate in praising the student. The article How to Use Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom states “Delayed positive reinforcement does not reinforce anything. Sometimes it even confuses those students who have a short memory.” I agree with responding to positive behavior immediately. By clearly stating why the student is receiving the reinforcement, the student has an understanding of what they are successful at, and the behavior is more likely to continue.


Positive Reinforcement. (2005). Retrieved June 2, 2009, from University of Kansas Special Connections Web site:§ion=main&subsection=classroom/positive

Sanders, A. (2009). How to Use Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom. Retrieved June 2, 2009, from eHow Incorporated eHow How To Do Just About Everything Web site:

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