Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom


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Page last updated: 11/10/2022

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It is said that reinforcement is better than punishment. This blog justifies this concept by telling the importance of positive reinforcement, especially in classroom settings.

This blog explains in detail the concept of positive reinforcement and its various uses in the classroom.

So without any further delay, let’s move on to the very first topic of this blog, that is, the definition of the positive reinforcement.

What is Positive Reinforcement?

According to Smith (2017), reinforcement is defined as “a stimulus which follows and is contingent upon behavior and increases the probability of a behavior being repeated”.

The easiest way to conceptualize positive reinforcement is by ‘adding’ something pleasurable when a particular action occurs.

Positive reinforcement is a concept of the Operant Conditioning, a concept introduced by B. F. Skinner.

Skinner researched rats, and he discovered that if the rats pushed a bar repeatedly and then delivered food to the rodent, the rodent would push the bar more and more to get the food incentive.

Unlike those rats, once people consider a certain stimulating activity, they are more inclined to replicate the behavior.

Why is Using it in the Classroom Important?

The justification positive reinforcement in the classroom is essential is that it can be used to improve student conduct skillfully.

It is always necessary to use positive reinforcement, as it is a fundamental concept that happens very naturally in any classroom.

Planning for positive reinforcement also means that educators can unknowingly and thoughtlessly minimize praising undesirable behavior, as well as trying to offer the opportunity to increase the display of good behavior.

Merely paying enough attention to it can be very difficult to prevent reinforcing inappropriate behavior.

Positive reinforcement in the school is very important because a student experiencing positive reinforcement frequently shows a strong propensity to display desired behavior.

Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom

Different Types of Positive Reinforcement

The following are some of the common types of positive reinforcers:

Sensory Reinforcers

Sensory reinforcement refers to various sights, sounds, smells, and so on, which function as a reward.

For a change of environment, it could be listening to music in the classroom while working or seated close to the window.

Gamification Reinforcers

Gamification enhancers include learning management systems such as Classcraft and fun quizzes like Free Rice online.

Such reinforcers are not measurable yet make room for more fun experiences for students as a reward for their effort in college.

Privilege Reinforcers

When a student does something good, the teacher may reward the student by giving them some privileges for a short period of time.

These could include: sitting in the chair of the teacher during independent reading time, helping the school administrator pass the mail out, selecting the break time equipment for the day, etc.

Material Reinforcers

A material reinforcer is a tangible prize, which is often housed in some sort of prize box.

It could either be a pencil, eraser, bracelet, small toy, tattoo washable, sticker, or anything else.

Social Reinforcers

Social reinforcers include the interpersonal essence of positive reinforcement by encouragement (e.g., compliments), as well as supportive presence (standing next to the students in a friendly manner), high-fives, handshakes, gestures, and other forms of social reactions typically correlated with recognition.

Classroom Economy Reinforcers

Classroom economy enhancers include tokens, checkbooks, marbles, tickets, and other denominations that can be used within the structure of a classroom economy.

Some professors can have a student checkbook from which they may “deposit” and “withdraw” hypothetical capital. Other classrooms could be handing out tokens or moving marble jars.

No matter what kind of economy you choose in the classroom, as long as it works for the students.

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5 Examples of Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom

The examples of positive reinforcement along with the type of positive reinforcement they fall in, are mentioned below:

  1. Direct reinforcement: this refers to a type of reinforcement that is directly the result of the acceptable conduct as the names imply. The example given by Smith (2017) is that if a child is properly interacting in a group activity with their peers, this will most certainly lead to further requests to join in the long term on such activities.
  2. Social reinforcers This is facilitated by others (for example, teachers, parents, other adults, peers). They require an indication of support and appreciation for good conduct, such as: 
  • Comments (I’ll share the words and phrases to use later!) 
  • Printed acceptance (for example writing ‘great’ on a finished worksheet) and 
  • Some gestures of appreciation (smiling, nodding, clapping, a hand on the back)
  1. Includes allowing students to participate in their leisure activities if they are behaving properly. This is particularly effective if they have been allowed to choose a schoolmate with whom, for example, they can play a game, or spend time on the computer. That also gives their partner social reinforcement.
  2. Tangible reinforcers – such as edible food, toys, balloons, stickers, and prizes. Nevertheless, edibles and toys should be used with care. When a pupil has a weight problem, for example, their parents may have justification to reject the usage of edibles as encouragement. In addition, handing out toys can make other students envious. Instead, awards like certificates, showing work in the classroom, or a letter sent home to parents applauding the success of the students as a reinforcement.
  3. Token reinforcement –Occurs when the points or tokens for appropriate behavior are awarded. The rewards themselves have little value, but they can be collected and then exchanged with the student for something valuable. For examples, the instructor might offer them a ticket each time a student displays a certain behavior. Tickets will be traded against a reward at the end of the week.

Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom 

Teachers and other school staff often use positive in-class reinforcement. It’s a way to encourage kids to know the laws at school and retain encouragement.

Here are some examples of positive action reinforcement:

  • When tasks are done in time, students get to keep moving their peg up the chart. 
  • Afterward, students who participate on a winter afternoon to clean up the play area get hot cocoa and cookies. 
  • Students staying quiet in the library receive a librarian’s praise. 
  • If all students complete an exam the class is awarded extra recess.

The following is a list of some recommended books and amazon tools to help enhance your knowledge about positive reinforcement.

All of these books and tools are easily accessible on the amazon store.

Just click the one you wish to get and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

What are some examples of positive reinforcement?

The following are some examples of positive reinforcement:

  • A trainer of dogs offers a puppy a biscuit while she’s creating a trick; 
  • A father delivering a piece of candy to his child to pick up his toys; 
  • A counselor who dishes out gold stars to the children who transform on time with their homework

Why is it important to use positive reinforcement in the classroom?

Simply paying attention to it can be quite difficult to avoid reinforcing misbehavior.

Positive reinforcement in the class is significant since student receiving good feedback also displays a greater tendency to display positive actions.

How is positive and negative reinforcement used in the classroom?

An indication of positive reinforcement is presenting a child with a sticker when the task is complete.

An illustration of positive reinforcement is asking the student to take a five-minute break by using a break card for the circle duration.

What are the 4 types of reinforcement?

The four types of reinforcement include positive, negative, punishment, and extinction

How do you teach positive reinforcement?

Be precise in your encouragement, especially when you teach someone in the starting. Ask what you want students to achieve, to figure out who’s going it.

Specify what you intend it to be. Change the beneficiaries of your praise.

What are the advantages of positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement increases morale and lets workers enjoy a more pleasurable job environment while minimizing the adverse side effects of discipline or constructive feedback, such as resentment, rage, anxiety and depression.

This blog aimed to provide you information on positive reinforcement in the classroom and help you identify how important it is in classroom settings.

The blog also mentioned various examples of positive reinforcement to clarify this concept for you and help you acknowledge ways in which you can use positive reinforcement in classroom.

If you have any queries or questions regarding this blog, let us know through your comments. We will be glad to assist you.


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