The classroom setting provides a significant challenge to the teachers, with primary emphasis on their effects on the learners. Specifically, the teachers seek to enhance the performance of their learners, and they can apply multiple theories to motivate their students to perform. The reinforcement theory revolves around the law of effect. In essence, the behavior of an individual mirrors the impacts of the habit. For instance, people are likely to repeat actions that yield positive consequences (Sumiati et al., 2019). Contrarily, individuals tend to shun away from habits that result in negative effects. However, the law does is not applicable to all people.
Reinforcement theory in the classroom
The reinforcement model partially mirrors the working of operant conditioning. I have experienced a classroom setting where three of the learners mostly had their minds out of the classroom, as well as the mathematics lessons I often taught. After observing the teenagers for a while, I decided to change my style of teaching in the effort to boost the motivation of the students who lacked the drive to participate in the learning process. During one mathematics lesson, I decided to take the students out to a shopping mall instead of the normal classroom setting. In the course of the tour, I would ask the learners about the different mathematical problems they had learned, explicitly targeting the three students. One of them seemed to be more active than he would be in the classroom, and I applauded his efforts with the rest of the learners. I observed that the learner's motivation had risen, and he would participate in the subsequent learning processes through answering questions.
However, I was still worried about the other two students. I observed that their performance was average, despite their lack of motivation. Therefore, I designed a plan for how I would get to understand their characteristics. I discovered that while one liked PlayStation games, the other liked computer games. Therefore, during the next lesson, I took the class to the gaming point of the same mall. The attendant helped me contextualize the learning by allowing me to use the game characters for illustration. He offered to give chocolate to the most active student during the process. The kid who liked PlayStation games was active throughout the session, grabbing the attention of the attendant, who asked the learner to pass by on his way from school. Since then, the student has been highly motivated to take part in the learning process.
The working of the reinforcement theory reinstates the hardship of the teacher, offering positive reinforcement to all the learners. Besides, some of the learners would require daily reinforcements, which are hard for the teacher to achieve (Sumiati et al., 2019). I observed a similar scenario in the third learner. Notably, I had noticed that the student liked computer games. However, even after buying him one, which he seemed to like, his motivation in the learning activity did not rise. I observed that also, the closeness was not enough to keep the student motivated. It was evident that the learner had a negative response to compliments and positive reinforcement.
In a nutshell, the reinforcement theory is a prudent model to enhance motivation in the learning environment. The theory primarily states that individuals tend to repeat behaviors that yield positive results. They also avoid those with negative outcomes. I have observed how the theory relates to practical scenarios through my mathematics class. However, I have also discovered that learners respond differently to positive reinforcement. In essence, in some students, the reinforcement does not create positive motivation outcomes.
Sumiati, T., Septiani, N., Widodo, S., & Caturiasari, J. (2019). Building children's learning motivation through positive reinforcement in science and math classroom. Journal of Physics: Conf. Series 1318 (2019) 012023 IOP Publishing doi:10.1088/1742-6596/1318/1/012023.
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