Instrumental Conditioning Introduction In 1937, B.F Skinner contributed to the already existing learning theories by proposing the operant conditioning theory otherwise referred to as the instrumental conditioning theory (Bernstein, 2010). In it, he posited that the voluntary behaviors of an individual might change in form, resilience, and the frequency in occurrence through the induction of reinforcements or punishments (Bernstein, 2010). Reinforcements can either be positive or negative, and they encourage an individual to continue engaging in the desired behavior. On the other hand, punishments deter an individual from engaging in the undesired behavior (Bernstein, 2010). · Description of learning situation. Educators struggle with the prospect of motivating students to participate voluntarily in discussions during class sessions, for example, students might avoid answering questions asked during an open discussion in a classroom setting (Bernstein, 2010). There could be emotional, psychological, social or physiological reasons attached to the lack of participation of such students. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the educator to encourage students to participate voluntarily in class discussions. An educator might choose to use instrumental conditioning to boost the level of participation among the students (Bernstein, 2010). · Positive and negative reinforcement. similarities, differences, and examples of each applied in the learning situation Positive reinforcement refers to the introduction of an appetitive or rewarding stimulus in order to increase the frequency or strengthen desired behavior (Mishra, 2008). On the other hand, negative reinforcement refers to the withdrawal of an aversive stimulus after the occurrence of desired behavior as a way of encouraging the repeated occurrence of that behavior. Positive and negative reinforcement are similar in that they both strengthen or increase the frequency in occurrence of the desired behavior (Mishra, 2008). However, they differ from each other in the type of stimulus presented and the timing of its presentation. In positive reinforcement, the stimulus presented is rewarding, and its presentation occurs after the occurrence of the desired behavior. whereas, in negative reinforcement, the stimulus presented is aversive and its withdrawal occurs after the occurrence of the desired behavior (Mishra, 2008). In the learning situation discussed above, examples of positive reinforcements used include. the awarding of extra credits for class participation, offering praise and recognition to those participating voluntarily. Alternatively, an example of negative reinforcement includes. randomly selecting a student to participate without considering whether they volunteered or not (Mishra, 2008). · Explain how reward and punishment can be applied to your selected learning situation. Be sure to provide examples. Punishment can also be negative or positive. Positive punishment, also referred to as punishment by contingent stimulation, refers to the introduction of an aversive stimulus after the witnessing of the undesired behavior (Mishra, 2008). When dealing with the learning situation mentioned earlier, an educator might opt to institute unfavorable results for students who fail to participate voluntarily during class discussions, for example, detention or the reducing of credits allocated to the degree of participation (Mishra, 2008). On the other hand, negative punishment, also referred to as punishment by contingent withdrawal, refers to removal of a stimulus, which an individual finds appealing after the witnessing of undesired behavior. An educator might opt to withdraw certain privileges from the students who fail to participate voluntarily in class discussions, for example, restricting the student’s access to extra-curricular activities. In both instances, the undesired the deterring of the undesired behavior occurs (Mishra, 2008). · Evaluate which form of instrumental conditioning you feel would be most effective in your selected situation. The use of reinforcement to encourage the voluntary participation of students in class discussions proves to be the most effective form of instrumental conditioning (Michael, 2009). This is because, unlike punishments, reinforcements do not solicit negative feelings or attitudes attached to them. (Michael, 2009) Therefore, the emotional and psychological states of students remain unaltered by the stimulus introduced. However, educators must consider the following when dealing with reinforcements as their preferred tool of instrumental conditioning. satiation, size, contingency, and immediacy. The size of the reinforcement ought to be large enough to appeal to the student (Michael, 2009). In addition, the immediacy of the educator presenting the reinforcement proves crucial to the sustenance of the frequent occurrence of the desired behavior. The appetite or desire of a student for the reinforcement on offer must be analyzes. This is because satiated appetites results in the disregarding of reinforcements presented. Lastly, the reinforcement must follow the target response reliably (Michael, 2009). Conclusion In conclusion, the instrumental conditioning theory complements the other learning theories, for example, Albert Bandura’s observational learning theory and J. B. Watson’s classical conditioning theory (Michael, 2009). It is clear that consequences play a pivotal role in modifying human behavior. The use of reinforcement and punishments proves beneficial in facilitating a change in behavior. As a result, the promotion of the learning process with regard to a certain issue occurs (Michael, 2009). References Bernstein, D. A. (2010). Essentials of Psychology. New York: Cengage Learning. Michael, W. (2009). The Principles of Learning and Behavior. New York: Cengage Learning. Mishra. (2008). Psychology: A Study Of Human Behaviour. New York: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.