Operant Conditioning to Make My Future Students Successful

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In five years from now, I plan to be teaching math in a classroom setting, preferably high school. While math was my favorite subject in high school, I know most other people hated math due to various reasons such as not understanding the topic or disliking the methods or their math teachers. Therefore, I know I will experience a lot of resistance when trying to teach math in the future, but understanding this fact is a very important first step to finding a solution.
Most of my students do not want to be there and could care less what I was saying. This is where I would apply the psychology I've learned about in this class. I can use methods like operant conditioning to help motivate my students to learn. For example, if while lecturing, I rewarded a piece of candy to any students who could answer my questions or did well on a test, this would be a form of operant conditioning using positive reinforcement. However, this can also act as a form of punishment to those who cannot or simply are not answering the questions. This can demotivate them and cause them to stop trying.
While I haven't quite determined a completely successful teaching method, I have quite some time and the use of the learning psychology I learned about in this class to help assist me to find a successful teaching method which will motivate the most students to doing well.


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I would love if my math teacher rewarded me for doing well on tests and answering questions. I believe it would make me contribute more to the classroom environment and become more of an active learner. You could also consider using "extra credit" as a form of reward instead of candy. A couple of my teachers did that way back in the day and it made almost everyone want to participate.

Isn't it funny how useful psychology can be to out lives? Anyways, you should just remember to use a random assignment of who gets a reward (out of those who did well on the test). As discussed in lecture, this will create a longer lasting operant effect for those being rewarded. Their behavior will become extinct much slower under this premise. Also, I think that will help in not demotivating people because your students will overall be rewarded less often. Just offering a slight tweak to your suggestion, but it is a great idea.

That is a very interesting thought and a good idea. I have never really thought of applying those kind of techniques to people in everyday life, but it is worth thinking about. I also agree with the comment above that it will not demotivate other kids, but could possibly make kids strive harder to get the candy. But depending on what level of teaching you do, candy may not be enough. Very good thoughts though, and good entry.

I have heard that often times, many professions encourage students to enroll in a Psychology class for just this reason; being able to deal with others in a work environment. I think for teachers especially, this would be extremely beneficial. Being able to understand how others learn and be able to adjust to those who learn differently would be prime in a teaching environment, in my opinion. I think it's very good that you have altered your knowledge obtained from this class in order to fit your future profession, that is very intelligent.

I like how you are thinking of how to apply what you learned in Psychology to your real life. I think this shows just how applicable Psychology is and how we can apply many things from this course into our everyday lives, or in our futures. I like your idea of rewarding students, that will definitely improve participation and hopefully grades, best of luck to you!

i really hope you're able to figure out a good way to teach high schoolers math. it's probably one of the harder jobs out there, and i'd personally not have the patience for it. thinking about ways you could help motivate your students, maybe you could reward positive quiz scores with the absence of a test? in other words, if people do generally well on the quizzes leading up to a test, then why should the students who did well on the quizzes have to take the test?

Wherever it is you are planning on teaching, I will make sure that when I have kids, they will go there. We definitely need more teachers (and employers) who are willing to reward for doing a good job instead of just punish for doing a bad job.
Math is awesome, lets make everyone love it!!

Way back when I was a third grader, my teacher would reward us with candy and not just for academic things, but also for things like sitting down quietly, raising our hand, or helping someone else. This motivated us, and it was done on a variable ratio, which we learned in class is most effective. Now as third graders, this may have slightly backfired, because it gave us more energy which often ended up with us talking to those around us, when we were supposed to be quiet. Extra credit is a very good idea though.

I wish I would of had someone like you as my math teacher when I was younger; maybe then I wouldn't have grown to resent math so much. But I do believe that this Psychology course has most likely been very helpful to you as a future teacher, equipping you with skills to better understand and interact with your future students.

My math teacher also did something similar to this. We would receive a full roll of starburst if we answered a question. And of course there was more and more participation from the students. I also had a substitute teacher who once rewarded the "good" kids with a star on their paper. And this was high school. It was not effective and left some students outraged that she treated us like kindergartners. I would defiantly go with the classic conditioning.

This is awesome that you are already thinking of ways to get students engaged. Not nearly enough teachers think like this. I also found a lot of things in this class that I would like to apply to teaching, outside or inside the classroom, in the future.

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This page contains a single entry by kochx212 published on May 3, 2012 11:41 AM.

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