Explain The Operant Conditioning Theory by b.f skinner

What is reinforcement in operant conditioning?

B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist, presented this idea in 1938. It is a type of learning in which behaviour is taught, maintained, and modified as a result of the consequences.

Type ‘R’ conditioning is another name for this theory. Skinner referred to this idea as Operant Conditioning since it is based on specific operations or acts that the organism must do. Such actions or reactions are unrelated to any recognised triggers. They are intentionally released by the organism in order to create reinforcing results.

Definition of Operant Conditioning: Operant conditioning is a type of learning process in which reward increases the likelihood or frequency of a response. It aids in the learning of operant behaviour, which is behaviour that isn’t always paired with a recognised stimulus.

Definition of Operant: Skinner defines an operant as an act that constitutes an organism doing anything.
Example: Raising the head, moving around, pulling a lever etc.
The majority of the reactions, according to Skinner, could not be linked to the known stimuli.

Skinner’s Experiment: Skinner carried out several tests on rats and pigeons. It is reported that he did rat tests. He built what is known as the Skinner box. It was designed in such a way that the rat could go inside but not out. There is a wooden bar on the box’s floor. The bar is electrically linked to the food delivery system. When the rat is placed in the box, it begins to walk about restlessly and examine the box. It inadvertently presses the bar. The meal delivery system is activated.

A pellet of food falls on the floor and the rat eats it. After eating the food, the rat continues to explore the box. After a while it presses the bar again and it again gets a food. The food reinforces pressing of the bar. Now the rat presses the bar more rapidly and its operant behaviour gets strengthened more and more.

Types of Reinforcers

  • Positive Reinforcer,
  • Negative Reinforcer,
  • Punisher.

Positive Reinforcer: A positive reinforce is any stimulus (such as food, water, praise, social approbation, sexual interaction etc.) the introduction or presentation of which raises the chance of a specific conduct. In the educational setting, praise, grades, medals and other incentives provided to pupils are examples of positive reinforcers.

Negative Reinforcer: A negative reinforcer is any stimulus or set of unpleasant stimuli whose removal or withdrawal (such as loud noise, electric shock, social rejection, or condemnation) enhances the chance of a certain behaviour. A teacher telling pupils that whomever accomplishes drill work correctly in class will be spared from homework acts as a negative reinforcer in the educational environment.

Educational Implication of the theory of operant conditioning

  • Conditioning study behaviour: Teaching is the organisation of reinforcement contingencies that quicken learning. For effective teaching, teachers should plan effective reinforcement contingencies.
    For example, a student’s self-learning should be reinforced by a range of incentives such as a prize, medal, smile, praise, a friendly pat on the back, or higher grades.
  • Conditioning and classroom behaviour: During the learning process, children may encounter unpleasant situations. This aversion to the instructor, subject, and classroom becomes conditioned, and the student dislikes the subject and the teacher. Appropriate behavioural antecedents, as well as an atmosphere of acknowledgement, approval, affection, and regard, assist the youngster in approaching the instructor and the subject. If a student is not serious about his or her studies, the teacher will use negative reinforcement such as showing negligence, criticising the student, and so on; however, if the student is serious about his or her studies, the teacher will use positive reinforcement such as a prize, medal, praise, and a smile.
  • Managing Problem Behavior: In the classroom, there are two categories of behaviour: unwanted behaviour and problematic behaviour. Operant conditioning is a behaviour modification method used to modify pupils’ behaviour. For this reason, the instructor should accept positive learning conditions such as praise, encouragement, and so on. Negative possibilities should not be entertained. Example punishment (student will flee the boring and gloomy classes-escape excitement).
  • Dealing with anxieties through conditioning:  Perceptual meaning emerges by training fear, concerns, biases, and attitudes. Examples of anxiety include traffic signs, sirens blaring during the conflict, and a youngster receiving a painful injection from a doctor. Anxiety is a broad-based fear reaction. Desensitization strategies should be used by teachers to break fearful behaviours. The teacher should initially deliver a very mild sort of conditioned stimulus. The intensity of the stimulus should be gradually raised.
  • Conditioning group behaviour: Conditioning teaches the whole group and reinforcement results in a total shift in behaviour. It also breaks undesirable and unsocial behaviour. For example, asking professors questions or speaking lies can irritate them; in such cases, pupils learn to be quiet in class. Asking questions and actively participating in class discussions will make the teacher pleased since interaction will improve and the teaching-learning process will become more effective.