Meaning of the Skill of Reinforcement
Reinforcement is a technique belongs to the area of psychology of learning and helps in influencing the responses or behaviours of the learners. There are two types of reinforcement-positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. While the use of the former (providing pleasant experiences) contributes towards strengthening the desirable responses or behaviours the latter (providing unpleasant experiences) are used for weakening or eliminating the undesirable responses or behaviours. For the better results, the use of the positive reinforcement is to be increased while that of negative reinforcement is to be decreased or eliminated.
In view of the above discussion, the skill of reinforcement may be defined as the art of learning the judicious and effective use of reinforcers by a teacher for influencing the pupil's behaviour in the desired direction directed towards maximum pupils' participation for realising the better results in the teaching-learning process.
The skill of reinforcement can increase the student's involvement in learning in a number of ways. The skill is used when the teacher reinforces correct responses with a smile, when the teacher praises a good response or encourages a slow learner. Such positive reinforces strengthen desirable responses whereas negative reinforces such as scolding, punishing the students, sarcastic remarks etc. weaken the undesirable response.
However, the use of more and more positive reinforce maximise pupil's involvement of learning rather than the use of negative reinforces. Therefore, the skills of reinforcement involve the teacher to use more and more positive reinforces and to decrease the use of negative reinforces so that the pupil's participation is maximised.
Components of the skill
The components of the skill of reinforcement may be listed as below:
- A. Desirable Behaviours
- (i) Use of Positive Verbal Reinforcers
- (ii) Use of Positive Non-Verbal Reinforcers
- (iii) Use of Extra Verbal Reinforcers
- B. Undesirable Behaviours
- (i) Use of Negative Verbal Reinforcers
- (ii) Use of Negative Non-Verbal Reinforcers
- (iii) Inappropriate or wrong use of Reinforcement
Let us try to understand the meaning of these components.
A. Desirable Behaviours
1. Use of Positive Verbal Reinforcers:- Positive verbal reinforcers refer to those verbal behaviours of the teacher that bring positive reinforcement, i.e., increase the chances for the pupils to respond correctly. They may be divided in the categories like below:
- The use of praise words such as 'good', 'very good', 'fine', 'yes', 'well done', 'excellent', 'right', etc.
- The use of statements accepting pupils feelings like "yes, you have judged correctly, now explain it in detail."
- Repeating and rephrasing or summarizing pupil's responses.
2. Use of Positive Non-Verbal Reinforcers:- Positive non-verbal reinforcers refer to all those non-verbal (without words) behaviours of the teacher which bring positive reinforcement. They may be divided into the categories like below:
- Writing the responses on the blackboard.
- Use of gestures and other non-verbal actions conveying pleasant feelings of approval of pupil responses like nodding of head, smiling, clapping, keeping eyes, turning ears or moving words the responding pupil.
3. Use of the Extra Verbal Reinforcers:- This type of reinforcers fall midway between positive verbal and non-verbal reinforcers and consists of such remarks as hm-hm', 'Uh-Uh' or 'Aaa ah', etc.
B. Undesirable Behaviours
1. Use of Negative Verbal Reinforcers:- Negative verbal reinforcers refer to those verbal behaviour of the teacher that bring about negative reinforcement i.e., decreasing the chances for the pupils to participate in the class-room or respond correctly. Such reinforcers may be categorized as under:
- The use of discouraging words like 'no', 'wrong', 'incorrect', 'stop it, non-sense', etc.
- The use of discouraging cues and voice tones as 'humph' in sarcastic voice.
- The use of discouraging statements like, 'I do not like what you are doing', 'Do something else', 'That is not good', etc.
2. Use of Negative Non-Verbal Reinforcers:- Negative non-verbal reinforcers are those non-verbal behaviours of the teacher that bring about negative reinforcement. The examples of such behaviour are frowning, raising the eye-brows, hand and disapproving stares, tapping foot impatiently and walking around etc.
3. Inappropriate or Wrong use of Reinforcement:- It is only the proper and right use of the possible reinforcers that bring encouraging results. The following types of reinforcers belonging to the category of undesirable behaviour should be avoided by the teacher:
- Using reinforcement when not needed
- Not using reinforcers when needed
- Using the reinforcers in a less or excess amount than desired.
- Excouraging or reinforcing only a few responding pupils.
In the light of the meaning of the above discussed behaviours, a teacher is required to practice the occurrence of all the desired behaviours avoidance of the undesired ones.
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