Classroom Management: The Behavior Modification Approach
This approach involves various techniques and methods, that ranges from simple rewards to elaborate reinforcement training. This behavior modification is rooted in the work of James Watson and B.F. Skinner and assumes that behavior is shaped by the environment and pays little attention to the causes of problems. Teachers utilizing this approach spend little time on the personal history of the learners or on searching for the reasons or causes brought about by a particular problem. Teachers strive to increase their involvement in the occurrence of appropriate behavior through a systematic and consistent system of giving rewards and to reduce the possibility of inappropriate behavior through punishment or penalty for misbehavior.
The basic principles of the behavior modification approach are:
- The behavior is influenced and shaped by its consequences, and not the causes of problem brought about in the history of the individual.
- The behavior is strengthened by immediate reinforcement - positive or negative. Positive reinforcements are various forms of praises and rewards; while negative reinforcements virtually take away or stop something the learner doesn't like. Example: The learner was reprimanded by the teacher, he agrees to behave according to the classroom rules, and so, the teacher stops reprimanding. In a negative reinforcing situation, the learner behaves in such a way as to remove aversive stimuli (nagging, scolding, and threatening) from the environment.
- The behavior is strengthened by a systematic reinforcement, whether positive or negative behavior is weakened if not followed by reinforcement.
- Learners respond better to positive reinforcement than they do to punishment.
- When a learner is not rewarded for appropriate or adaptive behavior, he may become increasingly dominant and will be utilized to obtain reinforcement.
- Constant reinforcement - the reinforcement of a behavior every time it occurs, produces the best results, especially in new learning situations.
- Once the behavior has been learned, it is best maintained through intermittent reinforcement.
- Pupils/Students who follow rules are rewarded; while those who break rules are punished.
There are various systems of behavior modification that can be used and are applicable to classroom management. They build certain limits and consequences into behavior and employ a variety of rules, rewards and punishments. An established and well-known behavior system utilized in various social learning situations is referred to as modeling.
Models are examples for imitation are effective in modifying behavior for they capture and hold attention. Effective models may be parents, teachers, public officials and peers who exemplify good traits, physical appearances, personality, competence, power and virtue.
Building and sustaining good discipline through modeling are:
- Demonstration: The pupils/students know exactly what is expected of them because they have eyes to see and ears to hear.
- Attention: Pupils/Students focus their attention on what is being depicted or explained before them.
- Practice: Pupils/Students are given opportunity to practice the appropriate behavior they see.
- Corrective feedback: Pupils/Students receive feedback. Appropriate behavior is reinforced; inappropriate behavior is suppressed and corrected immediately.
- Application: Pupils/Students are able to apply what they have learned in the classroom activities (role playing and modeling activities) and other real-life situations.
Suggested teacher's role in modeling includes the following:
- Selects behavior to be learned
- Selects most appropriate models
- Sees that the behavior is modeled clearly, accurately and briefly
- Assists observers/learners focus attention on what is being modeled
- Assists observers/learners in remembering what they saw
- Provides for suitable practice in reenacting the observed behavior
- Provides corrective feedback during student reenactment
- Practice in reenacting the observed behavior