Reinforcement

The formal definition of reinforcement is an event that occurs after a desired behavior which increases the likelihood of that behavior occurring again. In other words, providing a reinforcing response to a student's behavior will likely result in future occurrences of that same behavior. There are several types of reinforcers that are appropriate in the school setting:

Natural and Direct Reinforcement: This type of reinforcement results directly from the appropriate behavior that you desire. For example, when students are asked to open their math books, Johnny often needs to be asked two or three times. But in this instance, Johnny opens his math book the very first time you ask him. A natural and direct reinforcement example in this situation would be, "Johnny! Thank you for opening your math book the first time I asked you to!" The goal for reinforcement should always be to move the student to the most natural and intrinsic reinforcer: praise!

Social Reinforcers: Social reinforcers are socially mediated by teachers, parents, other adults and peers. They express approval and praise for appropriate behaviors. Comments like "Good job," "I can tell you're working really hard," or expressions of approval like nodding your head, smiling, thumbs up are also very effective effective social reinforcers.

Activity Reinforcers: Activity reinforcers are very effective and positive for students. Allowing students to participate in preferred activities (such as games, computer time, etc.) is a very powerful reinforcer. Allowing a student to choose a classmate with whom to participate with during the activity is especially powerful because it also provides social reinforcement from the partner!

Tangible Reinforcers: This type of reinforcer includes edibles (be careful of allergies, parental preferences, and dietary or religious restrictions), toys, balloons, stickers and award certificates.

Token Reinforcers: Token reinforcement involves awarding tokens or points for appropriate behavior. Tokens and points are not reinforcing alone; but they are powerful reinforcers when they can be exchanged for something that the student values. For example, your paycheck is only a piece of paper 


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