Don’t mix up negative reinforcement with punishment

admin 0 Comments

Skinner’s operant conditioning – positive and negative reinforcement – comes into play in many areas of our lives. Often without us even realising it!

Negative reinforcement is behaviour which is strengthened by stopping, removing or avoiding an undesirable or unfavourable outcome.

But to make this work in your classroom, consistency is the key. Recognise your own behaviour, do you sometimes negatively reinforce?

What’s the difference between punishment and negative reinforcement?
One mistake is when you confuse negative reinforcement with punishment. I’ve had many conversations with teachers who say they are ‘powerless’ because detentions and sanctions don’t always work.  But this is punishment, NOT negative reinforcement.

Negative reinforcement has several strands. It can involve a negative situation which strengthens a behaviour, or it might be that you pre-empt a negative by putting a plan in place to reduce the impact of the negative.