Positive Reinforcement As A Prime Factor In Teaching And Learning Environment

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Positive Reinforcement As A Prime Factor In Teaching And Learning Environment


Abstract


This study attempted to examine positive reinforcement as a prime factor in teaching and learning environment, a case study of academic achievement of students in some selected secondary schools in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this study, extensive and related literatures were reviewed under sub-headings. The descriptive research survey design was used to assess the opinions of the respondents with application of questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of one hundred and twenty (120) respondents were used in this study to represent the entire population of the study. A total of four null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient for hypothesis one and two while the independent t-test statistical tool was used for hypothesis three and four respectively. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

Based on the data analyses carried out in this section, the following results were obtained that: there is a significant relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school, there is a significant relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school, there is a significant difference in the academic performance of students’ who are negatively reinforced and those who are not and there is a significant difference in the social adjustment of students who are positively reinforced and those who are not.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Positive reinforcement or reward is that which is given in return for performance or service. Reinforcement is compensation. It is the fruit of men’s labour or work. Often, the term reward is used as a synonym for positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement or punishment is the act of inflicting penalty for an offence or fault. Punishment is chastisement or castigation for an offence or fault. Punishment and reinforcement are two concepts used in educational context to maintain a good discipline in the classroom, and the school at large. Psychologists have systematically investigated the effect of a number of reinforcement variables on the course of learning.

The greater the amount of reinforcement the more rapid the rate of learning. Reinforcement can be of good advantage to the teacher, in the sense that they promote good discipline in the school. One aim of maintaining discipline in school is to teach the child that there is moral orderliness in the world, and that certain behaviour and performance call for praise (reinforcement) and some call for blame (punishment). For the child, reinforcement is essential for regulation of good performance. One important aspect of the child development is that he becomes responsive to social praises (reward). This implies that in the process of growth of the child, social control is necessary as to enable him or her acquire positive habits necessary for growth and development of character and ethical standards.

As negative reinforcement is effective in producing submission, so reinforcement is used to produce desirable behaviour which leads to good performance in learning in schools. Punishment makes the child realises his mistakes and so avoid it in future. It makes the child to respect the authority. Punishment for wrong doing is part of a child’s training, this gives room to good performance in their academic activities. The student should be encouraged to cultivate the habit of self discipline rather than authoritarian methods of controlling their performance (Nwanna, 1995). To be of any use to the child, reinforcement must be understand and deserved by the child being punished or rewarded or else according to Awoniyi (1995) the child will be confused, he may not even value it and so make jest of it, thereby making it loose its usefulness which it is intended. Although reinforcement should be more employed than punishment, yet they both serve the same purpose of maintaining good discipline in the classroom.

Punishment serves as a warning, so that a particular act that leads to poor performance should not be repeated by the child. Reinforcement on the other hand is meant to build up pleasant memories for acting desirably, which can lead to good performance which a child will some how like to maintain if possible in his learning achievement. For the child, reward is essential for regulation of good performance. For reinforcement to work effectively, it must be used wisely. Reward is a sign of approval of a good performance in the school or classroom. The problem of classroom situation towards learning activities which can lead to good performance is largely solved through positive or negative reinforcement. Hence, the need to justify and straighten out its use for effectiveness in maintaining good performance in schools.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

It has been discovered that indiscipline among youths of Nigerian schools have become a source of worry in the school system. These have resulted to poor performance of the students in the schools. Students in schools are involved in indisciplinary behaviour which ranges from noise making, rioting, truancy, creating confusion, examination malpractice, drug abuse, sexual harassment, rape, stealing, truancy, absenteeism etc. Even the teachers are not playing their own roles. Some teachers are involved in trading instead of teaching the students. While some come to the classroom only when they fill like coming rather than using minor punishment and reinforcement in order to get the best performance from the students.

Rewarding a child is very essential in the high academic achievement of the student, but in most cases, teachers in secondary schools do not know how to reward or how to use reward as an instrument of school achievement in the school. Many teachers find it extremely difficult to reward their students especially, those who merit being rewarded. This is because, most teachers are not trained and experienced, so they find it difficult to apply reward to encourage the students to maintain high academic achievement at school. This study seeks to examine reward as a prime factor in teaching and learning environment in secondary schools.


1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to examine positive reinforcement as a prime factor in teaching and learning environment (A case study of academic achievement of students in some selected secondary schools in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State).

The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To find out whether there is a relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  2. To examine whether there is any relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  3. To assess whether there is gender difference in students’ performance as a result of positive reinforcement.
  4. To find out whether there is difference in the academic performance of students’ who are positively reinforced and those who are not.
  5. To find out whether there is difference in the social adjustment of students’ who are positively reinforced and those who are not.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions will be raised in this study:

  1. Is there any relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school?
  2. Is there any relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school?
  3. To what extent can we find out whether there is gender difference in students’ performance as a result of positive reinforcement?
  4. Will the academic performance of students’ who are positively reinforced differ from those who are not?
  5. Will the social adjustment of students’ who are positively reinforced differ from those who are not?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be formulated and tested in this study:

  1. There is no significant relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  2. There is no significant relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  3. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students’ who are negatively reinforced and those who are not.
  4. There is no significant difference in the social adjustment of students who are positively reinforced and those who are not.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study will be beneficial to the following individuals:

Students:

They would be enlightened by the findings and recommendations of this study. This is because students would be able to understand the effects of reward on the academic achievement of students. Not only that, this study will be very informative and educative to all potential students at various levels of our school system, especially at the secondary school. This study will help students to avoid acts that earn them negative reinforcement or punishment, and embrace acts that earn them positive reinforcement or reward.

Teachers

Teachers would also benefit from this study’s findings and recommendations, in that, they would help the teachers to be able to know more on the positive effects of reward on the academic achievement of students in secondary school. This study will therefore, be very informative to the teachers, especially those of them who are not all that experienced or well trained on classroom management and so on.

With this study, teachers who have been having negative attitudes, and those who have not been using reward as an instrument of encouragement to the students, would have a rethink and start using reward to help students achieve higher academic performance.

School Authorities:

The school authorities would see the recommendations and findings of this study very important, as it will help them to ensure that students are rewarded for greater school achievement. With this study, the school authorities would be able to see reward of students on another positive angle, due to its positive effects on students’ academic performance.

The Society

The society, the researchers, scholars and other school stakeholders would find this study very important, as they would find the material, a veritable material for references.


1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The scope of this study will cover positive reinforcement as a prime factor in teaching and learning environment (A case study of academic achievement of students in some selected secondary schools in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State). Ikorodu Local Government Area is one of the oldest local government area in Lagos State.

Ikorodu Local Government Area is situated in the western part of Lagos State. As one of the oldest local government areas in Lagos, it is strategically located judging the fact that it houses many individuals from Lagos and outside Lagos. Residents in the local government cut across all spectrums of religion, ethnicity and cultures. Therefore the choice of Ikorodu local government area is appropriate for this study, since the results of this study will be generalize for all other local government areas in Lagos State.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Reinforcement:

According to Hilgard and Atkinson (1972), reinforcement is defined as any event that increases the probability of a response.

Positive Reinforcement:

Ilogu (2004), positive reinforcement is defined as a presentation of a reinforcing stimulus so as to increase or maintain the rate of response or frequency of behaviour.

Negative Reinforcement or Punishment:

According to Ilogu (2004) negative reinforcement or punishment is defined as the presentation of any annoying (adverse) stimulus as a result of the performance of a response.

Environment:

This is a term use to depict the total surrounding of a given place.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings

The purpose of this study was to examine the positive reinforcement as prime factor in teaching and learning environment.

Hypotheses were formulated (generated) to guide the researcher.

Hypothesis I
  • H0: There is no significant relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  • H1: There is a significant relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
Hypothesis II
  • H0: There is no significant relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  • H1: There is a significant relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
Hypothesis III
  • H0: There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students’ who are negatively reinforced and those who are not.
  • H1: There is a significant difference in the academic performance of students’ who are negatively reinforced and those who are not.
Hypothesis IV
  • H0: There is no significant difference in the social adjustment of students who are positively reinforced and those who are not.
  • H1: There is a significant difference in the social adjustment of students who are positively reinforced and those who are not.

The objectives of the study were to;

  1. To find out whether there is a relationship between positive reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  2. To examine whether there is any relationship between negative reinforcement and students’ performance in school.
  3. To assess whether there is gender difference in students’ performance as a result of positive reinforcement.
  4. To find out whether there is difference in the academic performance of students’ who are positively reinforced and those who are not.
  5. To find out whether there is difference in the social adjustment of students’ who are positively reinforced and those who are not.

5.2 Conclusion

The study reinforcement as a process or procedure of increasing or stamping in desirable behaviour of an individual. Four mechanisms of reinforcement and reinforcers were identified which are positive, negative, primary and secondary in nature. Meanwhile, the conditions or schedule of reinforcement has been defined as the rule, plan or pattern of administration of reinforcement to the beneficiaries. Types of schedules identified are continuous and partial (intermittent); and partial schedule was sub-categorized into ratio and interval with each having fixed and variable schedules respectively. Interactions between reinforcement conditions are positive, negative induction; and behavioural contrast. Some points were also outlined as educational implications of reinforcement. Furthermore, behaviour problems amenable to reinforcement technique, advantages and disadvantages of reinforcement were all discussed. There is no doubt therefore that reinforcement still remains as a vital tool and technique in teaching and learning, and desirable behaviour modification processes in every social setting.


5.3 Recommendations

  1. There is the need for National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) to revisit the ECCDE programme. This can be achieved through a curriculum conference where strictly ECE professionals are invited to overhaul the programme.
  2. Again, NCCE needs to separate teacher education programme of Primary Education Studies. There is the need to separate programme for lower primary teachers from upper primary teachers. The reason for this is that lower primary teaching is still at formative years and should be handled by people specially prepare for that level.
  3. There is the need to force all non-professional ECE lecturers teaching ECE or PED programme to acquire Postgraduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.This will help to expose them to the technicalities involve in ECE.

Positive Reinforcement As A Prime Factor In Teaching And Learning Environment


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