This current paper mainly focused on the application of positive reinforcement in educational, clinical and community settings by reviewing previous studies on related fields. In educational setting, a three-year schoolwide positive behaviour supports (PBS) was introduced to 438,500 students from Chicago Public Schools in the United States using AB design that involved both qualitative and quantitative data to increase the positive behaviors at school. The results indicated that PBS was effective in yielding positive outcomes at school. Positive reinforcement was used to treat a 12 years old child who was selectively mute at classroom setting using the A-B-B´ design with multiple baselines in various settings. There showed some improvements in his verbal communication resulted from the intervention. Litter problems at Cache National Forest in United States were intervened using an ABA design that involved of monetary rewards. The finding suggested that positive reinforcement can be an effective way in litter control. In general, all of the studies in this paper demonstrated that positive reinforcement is effective in various settings.
Keywords: positive reinforcement, schoolwide positive behaviour supports (PBS), selective mutism (SM)
Positive Reinforcement Application in Educational, Clinical and Work Settings
In our everyday living, it is important to realize that our behaviors play a major part in assisting us to act and behave in different settings such as at home, school, workplace and society. Good behaviors can lead to better lives, high achievements in related fields and good relationships with others. On the other hand, individuals that have bad behaviors might have some unfavorable outcomes in their lives. However, these inappropriate behaviors can be replaced with desirable behaviors using behavior modification techniques. There are many principles can be apply in encouraging and increasing a target good behaviors that include reinforcements, token economy, punishment, extinction and classical conditioning. Many researches have shown that positive reinforcements are proven to be more effective in practical as compared to other principles which have some flaws when apply in certain settings. Therefore, this paper is mainly focused on positive reinforcement that yielded many encouraging outcomes in educational and child management, clinical and work settings.
Positive reinforcement can be defined as use of a stimulus immediately following certain behavior which would result in an increase of that behavior (Martin & Pear, 2011). It is believed that when a person’s behavior is followed instantly by a positive reinforcer, that person is most probably to perform that behavior again in a similar situation. There are several theories that related to positive reinforcement. After the discovery of instrumental conditioning, Thorndike was the one who established the first systematic reinforcement theory (Bower ; Hilgard, 1981). Thorndike described a positive reinforce as a stimulus that can yields a “satisfying state of affairs.” Based on Domjan (2005) review, it was stated that Thorndike used The Law of Effect in explaining how a reinforcer is able to produce a rise in the reinforced response. There is a connection between the instrumental response R and the stimulus S when the response is performed as referred to The Law of Effect. This model was widely accepted by many behaviorists for the following 50 years. However, the Law of Effect did not provide a clear explanation on the role of a reinforcer in acting retrospectively to strengthen the S-R association after an instrumental response had made.