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NASP Home NASP Publications School Psychology Review (SPR) Volume 1 Issue 2 (1972) Operant Conditioning in the Classroom...
Volume 1, Issue 2 (1972)

Operant Conditioning in the Classroom Setting: A Review of the Research

pp. 39—40

The purpose of this review is to summarize the findings of behavioral engineers in their attempts to improve contingency management in public school classrooms. It also presents some of the issues and problems in applying behavior analysis to the classroom. Research regarding the effect of teacher attention, peer attention, token reinforcement and vicarious reinforcement are presented. Systematically varying teacher attention clearly alters classroom behavior. Not only does positive attention increase desired behavior, but negative attention, in the form of teacher disapproval, also increases undesirable behavior. Although there is some support for the effects of peer attention on behavior, current data do not allow conclusions at this time. The usual social reinforcers (praise, attention, positive feedback) often have minimal effectiveness &lone with some children (delinquents, retardates, conduct problem children) however, when paired with redeemable tokens, social reinforcement was found to be effective. Bandura has demonstrated the effects of vicarious reinforcement in the laboratory (strengthening of behavior which occurs through observation of another being reinforced for that behavior). Thus far little research in classroom settings has been done on this phenomenon, although it has great appeal in terms of economy of teacher time.

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