3.5 Operant Conditioning

Mrs. Howell is not familiar with how operant conditioning is really a description of events and the impact on rates of behavior. If she had been better informed about operant conditioning, she might have realized she was operating a punishment contingency or procedure. When she provided students with warnings or went ahead with withdrawal of an item already in hand, she was making consequences contingent on disruptive behavior. 

A diagram illustrating the different stages of responding to stimuli in operant conditioning.
Operant Conditioning

Numerous behavioral studies have shown that punishment is a suppressive mechanism only. It is not a procedure for increasing positive or desired behaviors that generalize across settings—in this case, classes in an elementary school.

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