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Operant Conditioning

  • Date Submitted: 01/05/2011 03:03 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 23.8 
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Operant conditioning (sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behaviour. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.
Operant conditioning vs classic conditioning
Operant behaviour "operates" on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of reflexive (reflex) behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions. Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences
Origins of Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning was coined by behaviorist B.F. Skinner whose theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that learning is a function of change in overt behavior. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem. When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond.
Skinner used the term operant to refer to any "active behavior that operates upon the environment to generate consequences" (1953). In other words, Skinner's theory explained how we acquire the range of learned behaviors we exhibit each and every day.
Operant conditioning has been widely applied in clinical settings (i.e., behaviour modification) as well as teaching (i.e., classroom management) and instructional development
• Shaping is a form of operant conditioning in which the increasingly accurate approximations of a desired response are reinforced.
• Chaining is an instructional procedure which involves reinforcing individual responses occurring in a sequence to form a complex behavior.[
Components of Operant Conditioning
Are reinforcement, punishment, and extinction


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