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Operant conditioning was coined by behaviorist B.F. Skinner. As a behaviorist

Skinner believed that internal thoughts and motivations could not be used to explain behavior.
Instead, he suggested, we should look only at the external, observable causes of human behavior.

“The consequences of behavior determine the probability that the behavior will occur

Skinner believed that we do have such a thing as a mind, but that it is simply more productive to
study observable behavior rather than internal mental events. He believed that the best way to
understand behavior is to look at the cause of an action and its consequences.

He creates a box which is known as Skinner box for his experiment.

 A box large enough to easily accommodate the animal being used as a subject.
 It contains one or more lever which an animal can press, one or more stimulus lights and
one or more places in which reinforcers like food can be delivered.
 It is often sound-proof and light-proof to avoid distracting stimuli.

In his experiment a hungry rat was introduced into the box. When the lever was pressed by the
rat a small pellet of food was dropped onto a tray. The rat soon learned that when pressed the
lever he would receive some food. In this experiment the lever pressing behavior is reinforced by

If pressing the lever is reinforced (the rat gets food) when the light is on but not when it is off
responses,(pressing the lever) continue to be made in the light but seldom , if at all, in the dark.
The rat has formed discrimination between light and dark. When one turns on the light, a
response occurs. In this experiment Skinner demonstrated the ides of “Operant Conditioning”
and “shaping behavior”. Operant conditioning is the rewarding of an act that approaches a new
desired behavior. Skinner’s operant chamber allowed him to explore the rate of responses as a
dependent variable, as well as develop his theory of schedules of reinforcement. The first operant
chambers were attached to cumulative records on drums producing characteristic pauses,
scallops, and other lines.

Operant conditioning can be applied in classroom also;

 Reinforce positive and desirable behavior.

 Give students immediate feedback.
 Break task into smaller easy steps.
 Repeat directions as often as possible.
 Start from simple task to complex task.


Assertive Discipline has been modified and combined with other plans over the
course of the years since the Canters first established the Assertive Discipline Model in 1976.
Canter suggests that Assertive Discipline is not a cure-all. It is a starting point. Every teacher
should also know how to use counseling skills, how to use group process skills, and how to help
students with behavioral deficits learn appropriate classroom behaviors (Canter, n.d.). Successful
teachers, provide students with a positive environment that fosters learning and allows everyone
an equal opportunity to succeed. Students are held to high standards and are accountable for their
choices and behavior. Positive reinforcement and verbal praise through the acknowledgement of
good choices and appropriate behavior are essential to the success of the teacher and the
classroom. It is important to note that many negative interpretations have come from burned-out
teachers who are overwhelmed and do not feel supported by parents or administrators.
Unfortunately, these teachers often take out their frustrations on the students (Canter, n.d.).
Assertive Discipline is not a negative program, states Canter, however some teachers
misinterpret the elements of the program and some parents do not understand the core concepts.
It is essential that the focus remain on positive reinforcement and maintaining a well balanced
classroom. The classroom environment is a major contributing factor to the success of a
teacher’s behavior management plan. An effective classroom is led by a teacher who is in-
charge, is well organized and every student has the opportunity to learn with out disruptions.
Canter said it best: Students need teachers who can create classroom environments in which
teaching and learning can take place. Every student has the right to a learning environment that
is free from disruption. Students also need teachers who help them learn how to behave
appropriately in school. Many students who are categorized as behavior problems would not be
so labeled if their teachers had taught them how to behave appropriately in the classroom and
had raised their self-esteem.

According to Canter, teachers fall into one of three response style categories (how the teacher
responds to the misbehavior of their students). The three response style categories are non-
assertive, hostile and assertive.
A Non-Assertive Teacher is passive, often inconsistent and unwilling to impose demands on
student behavior. He fails to let the students clearly know what he wants and what he will not
accept. Non-Assertive teachers often plead with students to enforce classroom rules.
A Hostile Teacher addresses students in an abusive way. She often loses her temper and uses
behaviors that hurt student feelings, provoke disrespect and a desire to take revenge. Hostile
teachers often take everything personally and take the "me vs. them" approach.

An Assertive Teacher protects the rights of both the teacher and the student. With this style, he
makes his expectations known to students in a calm and businesslike manner. He backs up his
words with actions when necessary. Assertive teachers act in a calm, confident and professional
way. They let their discipline plan do all of the work and they clearly communicated the

Assertive teachers react confidently and quickly in situations that require the management of
student behavior. They are supported by a few clearly stated classroom rules that have been
explained, practiced, and enforced consistently. They give firm, clear, concise directions to
students who are in need of outside guidance to help them behave appropriately. Students who
comply are reinforced, whereas those who disobey rules and directions receive negative
consequences. Assertive teachers do not view students as adversaries, nor do they use an

abrasive, sarcastic, hostile style (as with "hostile" teachers). Neither do they
react in a passive, inconsistent, timid, non-directive manner (as with "non-assertive"

Assertive teachers believe that a firm, teacher-in-charge classroom is in the best interests of
students. They believe that the students wish to have the personal and psychological safety
experienced when their teacher is highly competent in directing behavior. The Canters state that
society demands appropriate behavior if one is to be accepted and successful. Therefore, no one
benefits when a student is allowed to misbehave. The Canters say that teachers show their
concern for today's youth when they demand and promote appropriate classroom behavior.
Additionally, educators have the right to request and expect assistance from parents and
administrators in their efforts. Assertive discipline provides strategies for gaining this
support. For example, to gain the support of administration, write your rules, positive
consequences, and a list of penalties. The list of negative consequences moves from official
warning/cease-and-desist order, to removal from the classroom. In between are sequentially
more punitive outcomes for failure to comply with the teacher direction. (You can find out more
about setting up your classroom management plant inside the "Free podcasts & videos" button on
the home page of Scroll down to "Setting up your classroom management

Once you have your written document, schedule an appointment with the person in charge of
discipline (Dean of Students, Assistant Principal). Present your plan. If it receives a positive
review, say "Thank you", and mention that the step that follows the last one on your list is a visit
to "the office". If the administrator backs off from the support for your plan, ask what needs to be
done to gain his/her backup to your plan. Work together to create a system in which you do your
best to address misbehavior in your classroom, but can be assured of administrative support if the
youngster is non-responsive to your in-class attempts to help him/her display appropriate

Jones’s Positive Classroom Discipline

According to Fredric Jones, classroom discipline is “the business of enforcing
classroom standards and building patterns of cooperation to maximize learning and minimize
In order to make Positive Discipline successful, these four components are needed: limit setting,
omission training, positive training, and backup system.
Teachers must model appropriate behavior and use proper classroom management techniques.
 Teachers must respect students in order to get respect from them in return.
 If a teacher acts mature then the student will more than likely model the teacher’s
 Teachers need to organize classroom furniture to maximize mobility and accessibility to
 Teachers need to establish control in the classroom by using body language such as eye
contact, physical proximity, facial expression, and body carriage.

 Teachers should provide incentives for students so that they have motivation to get work

 A teacher needs to provide a backup system.

a) In Jones’s words, “a back-up system is a series of responses designed to meet force with
force so that the uglier the student’s behavior becomes, the deeper he or she digs his or
her hole with no escape.”
b) Some examples are: warning, conference with student, time-out, and loss of privileges,
being sent to the office, detention, and conference with parent, in school/out of school
suspension (three days), expulsion.
c) Not only do good teachers tell students how they should act, but they demonstrate
appropriate behavior in all of their interactions and daily routines. Be the example.
If the teacher is doing his or her job by setting an appropriate example for students, then the
students will duplicate that behavior in their own lives.
Jones’s model is based on 3 assumptions:
1. Children need to be controlled to behave properly
2. Teachers can achieve control thru non-verbal cues & movements to bring one closer
physically to the students
3. Parents & administrators can be used to gain control over student behavior.
Main emphasis is on overall group behavior.
Three clusters of teacher skills:
Body Language - eye contact, proximity, etc. how body stands, etc.
Incentive Systems - 1) Genuine incentives - films, free time.
2) Grandma's rule - incentives to finish assignment.
3) Educational value - tied to academic content.
4) Group concern - all students should be allowed to participate in
Incentives - all students earn incentives together.
Ease of implementation-A) Establish/Explain rules.
B) Vote periodically on TEACHER approved incentives.
C) Stopwatch-time let over for PAT.
D) Do low preferred activities when student lose time allotted for PAT.
Four elements of Jones Model:
1. Classroom Structure – seating, rules, routines, etc. (Kids facing board – Teacher back of
2. Limit Setting - Effective discipline begins on emotional level; calm = strength; upset =
3. Responsibility Training - Building patterns of cooperation - PAT should be activities that are
enjoyed by tied to academics.
4. Back-up System- Pull a card, letter home, administrative involvement.