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Students’ Behaviour Modification and Reinforcement Report (Assessment)

The need for students to be given homework to assist them in learning is important. The administration policy that requires every student to carry 15 minutes of homework, and submit it the next day creates the requirement to develop a program. This program will contain enforcers which will ensure that every student promptly completes his/her homework and submits it the next day. This essay discusses the best steps to follow in ensuring that this policy is followed, based on a behaviour modification approach.

According to BF Skinner’s behaviour modification model, a reinforcement program is an effective method applied to stimulate and encourage students to act in a positive way, and with regard to what is required of them. The teachers should first understand the behaviour modification model in order to successfully use it to create and implement a reinforcement program. A reinforcement program consists of rules and regulations to be used when students either complete or fail to work on their homework.

Skinner’s behaviour modification principles depend on reinforcements and punishments as ways to control students’ behaviours. Teachers can use different incentives to encourage good behaviour from students, and disciplinary measures to discourage bad behaviour (Bennet & Smilanich, 1994). However, students react differently to these incentives and disciplinary actions depending on the implementation process. Researchers propose that students’ behaviour is best shaped when positive reinforcements are used to regulate their various activities (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2011).

The first step to developing a successful program, based on positive reinforcement is identifying the students’ behaviour that requires a change. One such behaviour may include failing to complete the work given. Secondly, the educator should identify and list all the features of behaviour in observable terms (Edwards & Watts, 2008). In this case, incomplete, undone, copied and poorly done homework can be some of the observed features. The time and place to observe these features are in the classroom when students are presenting their homework. Therefore, it is important for the teacher to note each student’s frequency of repeating a certain behavioural feature, as this could be a warning. This could affect the ultimate goal, which is ensuring that all students work on their homework daily and on time.

In order to achieve positive results, Porter (2007) in his research points out that it is necessary to apply definitive types of positive reinforcement. To encourage students to do their homework and learn from it, it is crucial for one to develop a relevant reinforcement program. Choosing the most appropriate reinforcement and the best way to implement it is a difficult undertaking, as this determines the students’ behaviour outcome. Positive reinforcements include a system to reward students. A teacher should choose several reinforcement techniques that will be interchanged from time to time to avoid monotony. Students should be involved in selecting the best reinforcer. Having them get actively involved acts as a motivator. In this case, the teacher can have students present their homework publicly in class, and acknowledge their efforts. To avoid monotony, teachers should regularly interchange reinforcers to continuously motivate and encourage students to act positively. The teacher can also use individual activities as reinforcers. This may include a hobby, working on a special project or privilege to assist the teacher (Gordon, Arthur & Butterfield, 1996). The teacher should choose an activity that students have an interest in to increase motivation.

Edwards and Watts (2008) are of the opinion that using one continuous reinforcer is not the best, for both teachers and students, because it does not guarantee that students will act in a positive manner. According to the behaviour modification model, which recommends the use of positive reinforcements, it is important for teachers to monitor the scheduling of the chosen reinforcement. This is to ensure that students do not develop dependency on rewards obtained from that reinforcer. This also ensures that good behaviour is maintained even when the reward of that reinforcer is withdrawn. Skinner suggested that a successful modification plan, in its final steps, evaluates the effectiveness of the program by halting it to observe students’ behaviour (Edwards & Watts, 2008).

In summary, when educators need to change the behaviour of their students, Skinner’s behaviour modification model maybe applied successfully. Teachers can develop positive reinforcement programs which identify and rectify behaviours that need to be rectified. Finally, educators must plan the schedule of reinforcements carefully, and choose a reinforcer that motivates students. Through these, teachers can succeed in rectifying students’ behaviour.

Positive reinforcement benefits outweigh the negative ones, according to the behaviour modification approach. Positive reinforcement is based on rewarding students in order to encourage them to learn more (Edwards & Watts, 2008). Negative reinforcements are techniques used to punish students as away of preventing them from inappropriate behaviours. When a teacher opts to use extrinsic motivators like stickers and stamps to enhance learning, he/ she is actually using positive reinforcement because the stamps and stickers are the token rein forcers. Researchers have varying arguments concerning the effectiveness of the extrinsic reward method (Konza, Grainger & Bradshaw, 2001).

In order for students to have high motivation, and to ensure that they react to learning in a positive manner, then positive reinforcement can be applied. Using extrinsic motivation, which includes rewards as a motivating factor, strongly influences positive behaviour among students and their activities (Rogers, 2007). Edwards and Watts states “rewards will increase the quality and quantity of children’s school work, in addition to eliminating discipline problems, without doing any harm” (Edwards and Watts , 2008, pg 73). According to these authors, punishment as a form of motivation which is a negative reinforcement can only yield a negative reaction that promotes bad behaviour.

Stickers and stamps are effective positive reinforcements which promptly show a teacher’s reaction to students’ success. The instant recognition by the teacher motivates students to respond positively. Stamps and stickers as positive reinforcement tokens can be used to show students excelling in an activity that may include doing extra work, answering questions and participating in discussions (Brady & Scully, 2005). However, the importance of using token rein forcers should be discussed in class by both the teacher and students, so as to ensure that students understand the systems peculiarities (Rogers, 2007).

Stickers and stamps when used as positive reinforcement extrinsic motivators increase stimulus for further progress, and for students to excel in their studies. This is because a student can receive more than one token depending on the effort they put into their studies. The token system depends on the progress made by the student in a class activity, and which reflects the student’s work achievements. However, this approach should be carefully planned to ensure that the student’s concentration is preserved throughout the learning process but not for the sake of receiving rewards. Despite all the benefits associated with this system of extrinsic rewards that are achieved by motivating students, the system is only possible if the planned schedule is followed. In addition, it is effective if all the requirements of developing a reinforcement program are followed. Many researchers are opposed to extrinsic motivation because of its negative effects. Jones and Jones (2007) argue that a person’s most influential source of motivation should be the inner self, but not rewards as this maybe temporarily. Extrinsic rewards can result in to students working hard continuously to receive rewards, rather than developing new study skills and learning new facts (Lyons et al., 2011). In this case, “extrinsic rewards, thereby, replace intrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated people pursue optimal challenges, display greater innovativeness and tend to perform better under challenging conditions” (Edwards & Watts, pg 74).

According to Charles (2008), inappropriate use of extrinsic rewards leads to students’ lack of responsibility to learn on their own. It is, therefore, important to encourage students to be intrinsically motivated to ensure that this challenge does not occur, as it hinders any progress by the student. Extrinsic rewards make students dependent on the teacher’s control, rather than on self control (Manning & Bucher, 2003). Withdrawing the rewards can affect the students’ behaviour drastically; hence, both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators should be used together.

To summarise this, the use of extrinsic rewards should be used cautiously though it has its benefits, to reduce students’ dependency on the rewards and on the teacher’s control. Intrinsic motivation is important because it allows continuous sustainable results, increases self control and progress. It is important for teachers to understand the advantages of both approaches in order to integrate them in their teaching to motivate students.


Bennet, B., & Smilanich, P. (1994). Classroom management: A thinking and caring approach. Edmonton, AB: Perceptions.

Brady, L., & Scully, A. (2005). Engagement: inclusive classroom management. French’s Forest: Pearson Education.

Charles, C. (2008). Building classroom discipline. USA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Edwards, C. H., & Watts, V. (2008). Classroom discipline and management. Australia: John Wiley & Sons.

Gordon, C., Arthur, M., & Butterfield, N. (1996). Promoting positive behaviour: An Australian guide to classroom management. Australia: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Jones, V.F., & Jones, L. (2007). Comprehensive classroom management: Creating communities of support and solving problems. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Konza, D., Grainger, J., & Bradshaw, K. (2001). Classroom management: A survival guide. Katoomba, NSW: Social Science Press.

Lyons, G., Ford, M.., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2011). Classroom management: Creating positive learning environments. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia Pty Ltd.

Manning, L. M., & Bucher, K.T. (2003). Classroom management: Models, applications and cases. New Jersey: Merrill-Prentice-Hall.

Porter, L. (2007). Student behaviour: Theory and practice for teachers. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Rogers, B. (2007). Behaviour management: A whole school approach). London, UK: Paul Chapman.

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