NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALVOLUME 26, NUMBER 3, 2009-2010
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION:HOW A CHICKEN CAN HELP TEACHOPERANT CONDITIONING
Mary Ann HootenFrank HammondsTroy University
Students often find it difficult to learn the basic principles of operant conditioning. Forexample, many students confuse negative reinforcement with punishment. For thisreason, several authors have evaluated the effectiveness of various methods of teachingsuch concepts as reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. For the current study, thefirst author created a video detailing how to teach a chicken to discriminate betweenplaying cards in such a way that this behavior could be incorporated into a card trick.This video was then evaluated in introductory psychology classes. The video resulted ingreater retention of the material covered than did lectures alone.
any instructors have likely encountered difficulty in gettingstudents to learn the distinctions between positivereinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment, as well as other basic termsassociated with operant conditioning. This is distressing since thedefinitions required in most introductory psychology classes are sosimple. Shields and Gredler (2003) found that participants did not perform well when attempting to answer questions regardingreinforcement and punishment. They observed that students wouldoften define negative reinforcement as punishing bad behavior. Theywere able to improve student performance in this area by utilizinginteractive demonstrations, providing written and verbal feedback for student responses, and by having students complete exercises.