Use operant conditioning principles to reduce disruptive behaviors Essay

According to the Operant Conditioning theory proposed by Skinner, the individual learns a particular behavior through interaction with the environment. When the individual interacts with his or her environment, the events or stimuli that occur in the environment would result in the individual changing his or her behavior. For example, if the individual performs a particular action, if he gets a positive reinforcement from the environment (such as a price or an incentive), there are chances that there would be an increase in the performance of such a response in the future.

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On the other hand, a negative reinforcement from the environment for the individual’s response is more likely to reduce the performance of such a response in the future. However, negative reinforcements may not always be likely to reduce the performance of undesired behavior in the future. This may be because of the presence of certain instinctive emotions and inner feelings that may result in the individual continuing to perform the undesired behavior.

The best way to tackle this would be to perform the negative reinforcements along with positive reinforcements for any positive behavior performed by the individual (Peace Motivate, 2006, & University of Texas, 2007). In this way, Mr. Byrnes would be unable to control the undisruptive behavior of the class. The students are continuing their disruptive behavior due to the inner feelings and emotions that are frequently associated with negative reinforcements. Mr Byrnes should understand this. Mr. Byrnes could use the operant conditioning theory in order to reduce the disruptive behavior of the students and increase the positive behavior.

He should use the negative reinforcements (to suppress the undesired behavior) and at the same time demonstrate positive reinforcements for even the slightest positive behavior demonstrated by the students. Specifically, Mr. Byrne would have to punish the students through several means such as giving them imposition, extra-home work, making the issue known to others in the class, informing the parents, physical work, etc, so that they are able to identify that the difference between the treatment students having good behavior and those having disruptive behavior are receiving.

At the same time, for even a small amount of positive behavior from the students, Mr. Byrne should provide positive reinforcement. Some of the means include giving a good word, informing other students about the improvements made, informing the parents and the higher authorities, etc. All these actions would encourage the student further to reduce the disruptive behavior. Operant behavior could be utilized to modify behavior of children belonging to any age group.It could work effectively in a classroom setting, as children are more likely to learn compared to adults.


Peace Motivate (2006). “Principles & Applications of Operant Conditioning. ” Retrieved on December 6, 2007, from Peace Motivate Web site: http://www. peacemotivate. com/2006/07/11/principles-applications-of-operant-conditioning/ University of Texas (2007). “Part 2: Operant Conditioning. ” Retrieved on December 6, 2007, from University of Texas Web site: http://teachnet. edb. utexas. edu/~lynda_abbott/Behavioral2. html

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