PSY461 Skills In Psychology

PSY461 Skills In Psychology

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PSY461 Skills In Psychology

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PSY461 Skills In Psychology

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Course Code: PSY461
University: Singapore University Of Social Sciences is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Singapore

Jane is a primary school teacher teaching Primary 5 students. She is finding it a challenge to manage the class. They do not participate in class discussions, they keep quiet and just stare at her when she asks questions and most of the students do not complete the assignments and homework. She wants to change their behaviour and get them to be more participative in class and complete their assignments and homework. 
Evaluate the scenario using Operant Conditioning and propose possible interventions. Determine the suitability of Operant Conditioning as an approach to behavioural change in this scenario. 
In your essay, include the following: • The range of behaviours in the classroom typically displayed by this age group
• The application of the various techniques of Operant Conditioning in classroom management for behaviours listed in the scenario.
• The strengths and weaknesses of Operant Conditioning in comparison to the other theories proffered by Kohlberg, Erik on, Piaget orBandura.
• A final judgment of the suitability of Operant Conditioning as an approach to behavioural change in this scenario. 

Range of behaviors displayed by the students in the classroom
There are different behavioral characteristics exhibited by the quite children. It is not exactly entertaining or encouraging for teacher Jane to be in a silent class. However the class cannot be silent, due to different behavioral characteristics, most of them will be rowdy while few will be silent (Cook, Tankersley, & Landrum, 2012). In this class the behavior may be due to the following;

Communication apprehensiveness- the children do not want to talk due to communication apprehension but this can be undone by communication skills.
Social introversion- although the behavior cannot possibly affect all students in a classroom, some of the children may be introverts thus keeping quiet.
Social alienation- it is impossible for a classroom teacher to help a class with social alienation. The children can only be taken to counseling. Professional help may not be successful but may be highly needed.
Skill deficiencies- when the children do not have the requisite skills they feel inadequate to communicate. Teacher Jane may only enhance the skills to motivate social communication(Beach, n.d.).
Low intellectual skills.

Application of various techniques of operant conditioning in the class
It is learning in lasting change in behavior that involves specific stimuli and / or responses and that is the result of prior experience with those stimuli and responses or with similar ones(Friedman and Silver, 2007). Execution, fatigue, maturation and sensory adaptation are not learning processes. All behavior modification techniques are based on learning of different types especially in classrooms.
The behavior modification is exactly what the title says, basically it is the systematic application of the principles and techniques of learning to improve or alter behaviors (Goldstein, & Brooks, 2008). There are two types of learning that modify behavior: associative learning and non-associative learning. In order to understand what follows we must know some basic concepts first:
Stimulus: refers to an external or internal signal capable of triggering a response in the body.
Response: event following the stimulus, which occurs in response to the stimulus
Exposure: Exposing is putting you in the presence or scope of the stimulus, receiving the stimulus(Jacobsen, 2005).
This is a topic that can be applied to practically all aspects of life (sales strategies, education of children, training of animals, modification of behavior in adults, treatment of mental disorders, etc.) and So it’s important to have the basics clear before you move any further (Kauffman, 2011). This is not a simple matter. To better understand what we mean by behavior modification techniques we will describe the two main types of learning that exist:
Non-associative learning
In this case the behavior is modified through repeated exposure to a single stimulus (always the same). No other stimuli intervene. There are two kinds:
The habituation → is the process by which a response (for example wake up to a loud noise) disappears through repeated exposure to that stimulus (noise). This process has an adaptive function as the brain learns to eliminate unnecessary responses and focus its efforts on other tasks when it sees that the stimulus does not imply any consequence and therefore can stop responding to it.
Sensitization → It is the opposite of habituation. It consists in the increase of the response when presenting the stimulus of isolated form in repeated occasions (McLeod, Fisher, & Hoover, 2003). There is no specificity to stimulate, that is, it increases the response to any stimulus, not just the original. The intensity of the stimulus (strong, threatening, or relevant) is important. This process is very important in the case of aversive or dangerous stimuli. For example if we hear strong shots one day the awakening altered response will increase, we will sensitize to the sounds, it will also be generalized to other sounds, the startling will make any sound wake us and more if the shots are repeated another day(Kopec, 2012). We will have sensitized to that sound.
Associative learning
Behavior is modified by associating two or more stimuli. Before going further into this type of learning we will describe a few concepts to be clear:
EN: Neutral stimulus is one that does not cause any response similar to that of the IE and precedes it (it appears before IE) (Leslie, & Fields, n.d.). For example if we lit a red light before giving food, the red light is a neutral stimulus; it is not associated in itself with any concrete R.
EC: Stimulus that was previously neutral (it is the same but its denomination is changed) but that through repeated exposure and association with the EI has elicited a concrete response that is repeated
RI: The initial and natural response caused by the IE. For example salivate before food = RI.
RC: Answer learned from the EC, it usually resembles the Unconditioned Response(Saariluoma, n.d.).
All living beings whatever their level on the phylogenetic scale has the capacity to learn, ie, ability to modify their behavior as a result of experience and to store these learning in memory (Nelsen, 2001). Although learning and memory are often used interchangeably, the first refers to the process of acquisition and modification of behavior and the second, to the processes of retention, storage and retrieval of information learned.
Learning and Conditioning
Conditioning is the easiest way to learn. The term learning is used to refer to permanent changes that occur in the individual as a result of experience (Scott, n.d.). On the contrary, the term conditioning is used to refer to the procedures used to get a behavior modified.
Instrumental conditioning
It is called instrumental conditioning because the organism is the one that has to operate to act on the environment, that is, behavior is the instrument that allows it to achieve the result it expects(Stein, 2000). On the contrary in classical conditioning the organism only has to respond to stimuli that it does not control since its presentation does not depend on it.
Behavioral Theory / Weaknesses and Strengths
Conducts according to operant conditioning

Conditioned and unconditioned stimuli are associated.
Human behavior is nothing more than a chain of reflexes.
More conditioning stimuli may be included.
A reflex conditioned by a stimulus can be triggered by to get the response you want.
His studies led to numerous researches, related to learning by association.


There must always be a conditioned reflex.
The conditioned response can be extinguished if the conditioned stimulus occurs repeatedly without the conditioned stimulus.
It did not take care of the retention or forgetting of the conditioning reflexes during the time since he repeated the same animals in all his experiments.

When they repeatedly carry out the eviction practices of the facilities, whether by fire or earthquake, people lose interest in this until they do not take the necessary actions when the alarms are activated(Tolman and Diamond, 2014).

Behavior is the activity of the organism as a whole.
It does not ground any objective knowledge, based on introspection.
His laws sought to describe behavior, which would lead psychology to be a true science.
It relies on objective techniques such as observation, conditioned reflex, verbal reports and tests


Insisted that internal psychic phenomena could not be the subject of scientific study because they were not observable.
Their studies were only in laboratories in order to establish statistically valid results.
It attaches great importance to kinesthetic stimuli and body movements.

 I consider that learning was determined by environmental variables and minimally by inheritance
Lawrence Kohlberg moral development theory
According to Kohlberg, moral development is a three stage process leading to post-conventional morality.
The stages include;

Pre-conventional morality-this is where punishment and obedience behavior in a child is driven by the need of the child not to be punished. Individual interest behavior is driven by reward or self-driven ability to avoid punishment.
Conventional morality- in this level Kohlberg says that a child’s social behavior is driven by social approval. At the authoritative stage; it is driven by obeying authority and social order conforming.
Post- conventional morality- it is a social contract where behavior is driven by individual rights and approval to social order. The last stage known as the universal ethics is the behavior driven by interpersonal moral principles and ethics.


Can use positive reinforcement to change behavior.
Includes internal phenomena such as feelings in studies.
Could scientifically study complex behaviors such as language, from the relationship with the consequences they have for the subject (positive or negative).
Shaping explains how individuals can move from simple to more complex behaviors.


Without a positive reinforcement, the relationship is not repeated.
Other types of behavior may appear if reinforcement is not applied correctly (undesirable behaviors).
It completely ignores the cognitive processes (knowledge).
Use punishment as a means of seeking to control behavior.
It is necessary to wait for a response something similar to the one wanted so that it can reinforce or not reinforce the behavior(Vaughn and Bos, n.d.).

According to jean Piaget theory of cognitive development
He suggests that the nature of intelligence in a classroom student is as a result of both operative and figurative circumstances. The cognitive development according to jean poignet starts with the sensorimotor stage. This extends from a child’s birth to when the child develops the speech. The second stage is the pre- operational stage. This is when a child develops the speech at the age of two to the age of seven. Thinking in this stage is purely egocentric. The third stage is the concrete operational stage. In this stage a child develops hypothetical thinking capabilities. The fourth stage is formal operational stage which is the fully developed thinking stage of a child.

The most characteristic form of learning is given by trial and error or by selection and connection.
Learn the action whose result is most positive.
He was the first to give importance to motivation in learning.
Implement the use of means specific to the sciences for the problems of education.
A person learns if he feels motivated (Law of disposition or attitude)


The ability to learn depends on the number of links or connections.
The repetition of situations does not modify the connections alone, unless they are rewarded.
Using the punishment can lead the subject to do something that may bring you rewards.
Indicated that animals have no memory, no idea to associate.
Converted learning into a mechanical process in which understanding does not fall.

Behavioral Theory / Weaknesses and Strengths
Erikson stages of development- learning theories
Erikson said that the ego makes a positive contribution to personal development by the mastering of ideas, attitudes and skills at each stage of psycho- social development. It helps the development of children bring positive contributions to the world(Whaley, 2016). He came up with eight stages of psycho-social development; they include

Trust vs. mistrust- shows that toddlers can learn to trust people.
Autonomy vs. shame and guilt- toddlers can control their actions to contribute positively to the society.
Initiative vs. guilt- between the age of 3-6 years, a child will initiate his things and control over what he is doing. Those with controlling parents tend to be guilty in their course.
Industry vs. inferiority- children see how they measure up against their peers during elementary school. With this in mind, some will feel inferior while others will be more industrious.
Identity vs. role confusion- who am I? this is the question that most teenagers grapple with. Role confusion vs. knowing the identity is crucial.
Intimacy vs. isolation- early adulthood makes people want to share their lives with others. They feel intimate while others feel isolated.
Integrity vs. despair
Generativist vs. stagnation

Suitability of operant conditioning as an approach to behavioral change
The introduction of law of effect and reinforcement which tends to be strengthened after repetition tends to reinforce a person’s behavior.  Classroom behavior is a tricky issue for teachers in the modern era.  Disruptive behavior leads to loss of time in completion of the curriculum. A key to nip problems in behavior is to promote positivism in behavioral change. It takes a lot of planning to lay the foundation of classroom behavior.
There are many challenges encountered by teachers who face many conflicting theories on how to manage behavioral change; they include; assertive discipline, logical consequences and behavioral management. Teacher Jane can model positive behavior, keep the students busy, listen to student’s suggestions and be consistent in positive approach to classroom behavioral change.
Beach, C. (n.d.). At-risk students.
Cook, B., Tankersley, M., & Landrum, T. (2012). Classroom behavior, contexts, and interventions. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Friedman, H. and Silver, R. (2007). Foundations of health psychology. New York: OxfordUniversity Press.
Goldstein, S., & Brooks, R. (2008). Understanding and Managing Children’s Classroom Behavior (1st ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Kopec, D. (2012). Environmental psychology for design. New York, N.Y.: Fairchild Books.
Kauffman, J. (2011). Managing classroom behavior (1st ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Pearson Education.
Jacobsen, P. (2005). Understanding how Asperger children and adolescents think and learn.London: Jessica Kingsley.
Leslie, J., & Fields, L. Principles of behavioral analysis (1st ed.).
McLeod, J., Fisher, J., & Hoover, G. (2003). The key elements of classroom management (1sted.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Nelsen, J. (2001). Positive discipline. Roseville, Calif.: Prima Pub.
Saariluoma, P. (n.d.). Foundational analysis. 1st ed.
Scott, T. Managing classroom behavior using positive behavior supports (1st ed.).
Stein, R. (2000). Connecting character to conduct. Alexandria: ASCD
Tolman, D. and Diamond, L. (2014). APA handbook of sexuality and psychology.
Vaughn, S. and Bos, C. (n.d.). Strategies for teaching students with learning and behavior problems.
Whaley, J. (2016). Highly illogical behavior. New York: Dial Books.

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