Educational Psychology: What are some of the various methods of Behaviour Change?



10 b i). Analyze the various methods of Behavour  Change.

Methods of Behavior Change


In their effort to maintain order in the classroom, teachers use many methods of behavior change. Among them punishments ranks very high.

Punishment is a form of aversive control of behavior.

Aversive means unpleasant, noxious or painful. Students can be punished through the following ways:

  • A teacher could administer an aversive stimulus like caning, or kneeling
  • A teacher could also remove an individual from a reinforcing situation e.g. removing a student from class also called timeout.
  • Even removing a desirable stimulus from the student e.g. taking away playtime is punishment.
  • Punishment can also be psychological like scolding or blaming a student.

Purpose of punishment

When a teacher administers punishment to a pupil, he hopes to do the following:

        • To make the undesirable behavior less probable.
        • To weaken it,
        • To suppress or
        • eliminate it.

With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that punishment may not always have any of these effects on the undesirable behavior.

  • There are times when the punished behavior is not suppressed nor eliminated and the teacher needs to know why this happened.
  • Undesirable behavior will not be eliminated if the following conditions are not met:
  1. Intensity of punishment

    Intensity refers to the strength or severity of punishment. Punishments of high intensity are likely to eliminate undesirable behaviour. Good examples are when a child touches fire and is burned he ceases to touch fire for all time.

         Also any child playing with a sharp object stops doing so if cut by the object.

         In the school situation, very severe punishments are discouraged because they can             harm both the body and the mind.

        Teachers are not allowed to mete out punishments, which are physically, and                      psychologically damaging as well. The punishments that are allowed are mild and              bearable so that the pupil may not have problem repeating the punishable behavior.

  2. Consistency of punishment

  • Consistency refers to the condition of punishing a pupil everytime the undesirable behavior occurs.
  • Consistency in punishment is difficult to maintain because the teacher cannot watch a child 24 hours a day, seven days a week and so on.
  • This means that the pupil knows that he can escape with the punishable behavior when the teacher is not around.
  • Making punishment consistent is not humanly possible.
  • Inconsistency makes undesirable behavior recur.

3. Contingency of punishment

Contingency refers to the pairing of punishment with the undesired behavior.

  • It means that punishment should be administered immediately the undesirable behavior occurs.
  • Punishment should not be removed in time; it should accompany the undesired behavior. For example, at home, if one wants to punish a dog that is messing up the compound, the punishment should be administered when the dog is at the act not minutes or hours later.
  • The principle is that if punishment is made contingent upon the undesired behavior the association between it and the behavior will be created and thus it will have the power to suppress that behavior.
  1. What is the situation like in the classroom or in the school? Many times teachers are unable to deliver punishment contingent upon the undesirable behavior. E.g. a student who comes late, or one who disrupts the classroom activity may have to wait for hours before punishment is delivered.
      • Also it is not humanly possible to monitor a pupil so as to punish him contingently.
      • Therefore, pupils know they can get away with punishable behavior.
      • Consequently, punishment as a method of behavior control fails.



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