Skip main navigation

Behavior modification for students

Behavior modification for students
Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about behavior modification from the standpoint of dog behavior and student behavior. Actually, what I’m going to be sharing with you our basic principles of behavior that apply to humans as well as dogs as well as rat. Very fundamental principles. Now, the first principle is that future behavior is shaped by the consequences of current behavior. Good consequences of a specific behavior are going to tend to promote repetition of that behavior. That’s just human nature. And bad consequences are going to inhibit the repetition of behavior. There’s a distinct difference between promoting good behavior and preventing bad behavior. Let me give you an example of relating to my two dogs.
I have trained them to go through three routine behaviors every morning. When I first get up I let them out. I feed them, and take them out again for a walk. And then when they come back in, I get 3 treats for each of them. They know this routine and so what each dog will do is come and sit side-by-side right in front of me as I have their three trees. First, trick as you might call it and I have them do is I without saying a word I point to the ground and they both lay down contagiously. And I give them each a treat. Then I raise my hand and they sit back up.
I take up of my finger and I just spin it around like this. And both of the dogs do a 360 degrees spin and sit right back down. And I give them another treat. The last trick, which is actually my favorite, is I hold a treat out in my left hand to one of the dogs, and they won’t take it. And then I switch the treat to my right hand and the dog instantly takes it and then I give them praise. I do the same for the other dog. Now I mention this because stop and think about what it might take to provide that type of training to a dog. They would respond that way to an offer of treats.
It would have been impossible using negative behavior by shouting or hitting a dog to get a dog to lay down when I want the dog to, spin when I want to go to, take treat only for my right hand not my left-hand. The only way I was able to provide that level of training to these dogs. It’s by rewarding them when they did what I wanted them to do. They perform the behavior in the consequence was what they got it they got a treat. As a result, they had a desire to repeat that behavior when I used the same trigger. I used that to train Glade. Lacy was a natural.
I noticed one day that she spent around and I gave her a treat because I thought, “Wow! that’s a nice behavior.” And then, caused her to link these spinning my finger to her spinning around, and she picked up on that. And then when I would spend my finger and she would spin around 360 degrees I gave retreat. The same thing with Glade. When I first asked Glade to spin around, she didn’t. And then I had a Lacy do it again, gave her a treat. Came back to Glade. Spun my finger. She spun around. Now the key is that when she did spin around, I gave her a treat.
If I had not given her a treat when she spun around first time she did, she wouldn’t repeat that behavior that way that Lacy does. So, I wouldn’t have succeeded if I used negative feedback to the dog. And I wouldn’t have succeeded if I didn’t provide a reward when Glade first spun around the way Lacy did. It’s a simple matter of behavioral modification. That positive feedback or positive reward causes a repetition of a behavior. And negative feedback or negative consequence is not going to promote the desired behavior. It can only be used to distinguish and undesirable behavior. But that wasn’t the case with these dogs. I was trying to promote the desired behavior, not extinguish a bad behavior.
So when we’re trying to change behavior of a student, the consequences of the student receives. First of all has to be timely. That’s the call right away. Remember the idea of real-time feedback. You can’t wait to deal with the issue. We have to deal with it as soon as possible after the behavior whether it was eliminating negative behavior or you want to promote a positive behavior. You have to provide the feedback right away. Secondly, the consequence has to be meaningful to the student. In the case of dog training, the consequence was a treat that they like. If I offer them a treat that they didn’t like wouldn’t have had the same effect.
And after giving them a treat they like, I don’t have to use the same treat the whole time, because they also enjoy being petted and praised. So I was able to move from having to give them food treat to being able to just pet them and praise them after they perform the behavior that requested. It has to be linked to a specific behavior. If the student doesn’t understand what the feedback is directed toward. If we get very general feedback that doesn’t relate to a specific behavior, it’s not going to be as effective. And lastly, they have to be able to anticipate that the consequence will occur.
The training with the dogs worked because they know if they spin when I asked them to spin, they will get a reward, either of treat or praising for me. If I ceased to do that, after period of time, they will stop to perform that behavior. So it’s a very systematic process of positively rewarding that behavior that we desire. And reserving negative feedback only for the behaviors that we want to extinguish. There’s two methods of reinforcing desired behavior. First is positive reinforcement. In this case, the desirable behavior occurs and the student would receive a reward something that they value. And it was result then would be that they’re motivated to continue receiving the award. This has the potential to promote excellence.
Now in contrast, let’s consider negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement when the desirable behavior occurs we withhold a negative behavior, a negative consequence or a punishment. And this has a different motivation, the motivation of the student would simply be to avoid the punishment. This doesn’t promote excellence. This promote compliance. Let me give you an example. If a student is leaving early and we want the student to stay until at least five o’clock everyday, we could threaten the punishment, In other words, tell the student if you don’t stay until five o’clock, I’m going to subtract 10 points from your grade.
Now, the student would be motivated to stay until five o’clock because they want to avoid the punishment of having points subtracted from their grade. But the motivation would only be to avoid the punishment which would mean they be motivated to achieve minimal compliance, just staying there until five o’clock. So you have a student would be watching the clock and as soon as the clock ticks on five. They are out the door. A contrast that, to student who might be leaving a little bit early and you notice them stay on time or a little late one day and you acknowledge their effort. You provide praise of the student for staying a little late.
That student is going to be more inclined to want to stay late. And if they continue to get feedback for the effort that they’re putting forward, there will be more inclined to continue putting for that effort. So, we can by choosing a type of reinforcement or their positive or negative. The positive reinforcement is been much more impacting of student behavior. And much more potential to guide the students to excellent performance rather than minimal compliance. We don’t want to rely too heavily on the threat of punishment, when we can accomplish the same type of desirable behavior by providing a positive reward.

There is a difference between promoting good behavior and preventing bad behavior.

In this video, Prof. Brown uses an interesting example to explain how to reinforcing desired behavior. Both positive and negative reinforcement could be used. However, it’s an “art” to make them effectively.

This article is from the free online

Become a Pharmacy Preceptor

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now