Positive Reinforcement


Reinforcement can be either positive or negative. Positive reinforcement involves practices ranging from rewards to praises and approval (Shindler, 2010). The reinforcement technique is used in majority of learning environments to either encourage desirable behavior and or discourage undesirable behavior (Grant & Evans, 1994). In a classroom context, positive reinforcement is an integral part of learning in leading to behave appropriately in consideration of each other. In a learning environment, students are required to work as individuals and at other times work in groups. These different requirements need different strategies in cultivating positive behavior in them.

Individual level

One of the positive reinforcement principles is that it involves appreciation for positive behavior (Slavin, 2006). At the individual level, it can be done through social appreciation where the student who behaves appropriately is recognized by the whole class. For example, when the class claps for a student who volunteers to solve a math problem, it ensures that the student will want to do the same in subsequent classes. Additionally, other students will want to act in the same way to elicit the same validation and appreciation.

Another technique that can be used to reinforce positive academic behavior and following of rules is to implement clearly the consequences of uncouth behavior. Learning institutions incorporate extra-curricular activities, particularly music and sports. Such activities are optional and enjoyable and any student seen to break the stipulated code of conduct can be suspended from participating in the activity. This action serves as a lesson to the student involved in misconduct, and as a warning to others.

Giving tangible rewards is another positive enforcement mechanism. Toys, edibles, or even money are forms in which rewards can be given. This mode of enforcement is especially useful in rewarding exemplary academic performance. The top three students for example, in a certain subject can be given defined amounts of money as appreciation for their achievement. This also applies to students, who though not top performers, have shown significant improvement in their academics. Rewards may also take the form of certificates, trophies, educational materials and letters of recognition sent to parents (Walker & Shea, 1980). For example, a student who has previously been suspended for inappropriate behavior may have a letter of recognition sent to their parent upon improvement. This motivates individual students to adopt appropriate behavior.

Group level

Group work is part of the learning experience and teachers are required to use this as a teaching technique. In order to positively reinforce appropriate group behavior, it is important to consider how the class is divided and what kinds of behaviors are displayed by the students (Kern, 2006).  Each member in a group is assigned a specific role(s) to carry out. Division of duties enables each member to actively participate in the task involved, reducing the free-riding problem, a common feature of groups. To start with, group recognition for exemplary behavior is as important as it is to an individual. Group recognition is practiced though in such ways as allowing given extra time for the group to explain to the class the reasons behind their success. For example, in group-projects, a teacher can positively reinforce academic excellence by having the best group’s project published in the school magazine.                                                                                  According special treatment to groups that follow set rules and procedures is another tool of positive enforcement. This involves in-depth analysis by the teacher to determine which group followed instruction appropriately (Grant & Evans, 2006). For example, groups that display team spirit can be given a chance to visit the soccer team to help them further understand the concept of teamwork. This will enhance positive behavior in other group projects for not only the best groups but also for others in the class. Thirdly, tangible reinforcement is also applicable here with groups that follow rules being given substantial awards for their behavior. The rewards given must be valuable to the students in order to motivate positive behavior in the future. Finally, the teacher can use a reward system giving well behaved groups advantage over their peers. Here, good conduct is awarded merit points, and demerit points given to bad behavior.

There are several ways by which group work can be established. One of them is by incorporating group work into the existing curriculum. In doing this, students recognize the fact that group work will contribute to their marks and will therefore uphold it as any other subject. Each group requires a leader. For fairness, this responsibility should rotate among different members of the group. Another way is to make group assignments as challenging as possible. Doing this will cause group members to take the task more seriously and put in extra effort. Group work can also be enjoyable by incorporating activities such as games during group meetings.

Classroom management plan

A classroom management plan enables teachers to strategize on how to approach a class of student depending on the students’ needs. The management plan below focuses on direct instruction, co-operative work and assignments.

Direct instruction

Goal:                           To enhance listening skills.

Rule:                            Students should follow teachers’ instructions to the letter.

Consequence:              Detention for non-compliance.

Reinforcement:           After giving instructions, the teacher should ask if any student needs a clarification on the matter.

Co-operative work

Goal:                           To instill the spirit of leadership and team-playing.

Rule:                            Making it mandatory for each member to be part of a small group.

Consequence:              Rewarding the best performing group.

Reinforcement:           Assigning the specific tasks to perform.


Goal:                           To ensure a particular topic has been understood.

Rule:                            Giving assignments on concluding each topic.

Consequence:              Not being allowed to enter class if an assignment is not completed.

Reinforcement:           Having a class discussion on the assignment with everyone participating.

Lesson plan

A lesson plan is a list of topics to be covered in the different subjects in a given period of time; say a day for example. A teacher may wish to cover Geometry in Mathematics, writing styles in Literature, drawing techniques in Art, and slave trade in History class. Having a lesson plan will enable the teacher to ensure that by the end of the day, this has been accomplished. The teacher also exhibits professional behavior in relating to her students. In the video, the teacher has chosen an appropriate way to educate the kindergarteners, i.e. putting down their specific roles on fancily shaped colored manila cards. Both shape and color attract children and so motivates them to accomplish the tasks given. The language, tone of voice and method of teaching she uses is just right for her young students. Also, by allowing students to finish her sentences and asking them to fetch items (the manila cards) for her, she is assured of their attention and their understanding of the instructions she gives.

The thinking process

It is an express fact that different people think differently. Individuals are entitled to forming their own opinions and conclusions on certain matters based on the facts given. Regardless of the difference in opinions, essentially, the thinking process revolves around analysis and problem-solving characterized by questions such as why, how, where, when, what and who. One problem may have more than one possible solution. Thoughts from a diverse group of people are therefore important in coming up with the best solution among possible ones.















Grant, L., & Evans, A. (1994). Principles of behavior analysis. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers.

Kern, D. E. (2006). Praxis II: Principles of learning and teaching. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub.

Shindler, J. (2010). Transformative classroom management: Positive strategies to engage all students and promote a psychology of success. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Slavin, R. E. (2006). Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Walker, J. E., & Shea, T. M. (1980). Behavior modification: A practical approach for educators (2nd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.






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