The effects of reinforcing different work requirements in the classroom : a dissertation.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education in Child and Family Psychology
Positive reinforcement contingencies are often used by teachers to improve the academic performance of inattentive and poorly motivated children in the classroom. Previous research suggests that the response dimension which is selected for reinforcement is a critical determinant of the effect of a positive reinforcement contingency. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of reinforcing increases in response rate compared to reinforcing increases in accuracy rate in six inattentive and poorly motivated 7 to 10 year old children. The experiment found that as a result of reinforcing improvements in the number of correct responses per minute, there was an improvement not only in the percentage of correct responses but also in the amount ofwork the child completed. However, the degree of improvement depended on a number of factors such as the child's reinforcement history, the nature of the contingency and the schedule ofreinforcement. These findings have significant implications for the way in which teachers apply positive reinforcement contingencies in the classroom in their attempt to respond to each child's academic needs.