Regardless of educational methods of preference, most teachers agree that feedback plays an important role in the learning process. Some educators rely on negative reinforcement while others opt for positive feedback. Needless to say, these two are profoundly different and positive reinforcement comes with a much bigger range of benefits in the classroom.
It Encourages Good Behavior
Through rewards and positive feedback, teachers can encourage the repetition of desirable behavior from students. Thus, it’s a powerful educational tool that results in high levels of motivation.
While students may feel short-term fear of negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement encourages the adoption of good habits and behaviors in the long run. Researchers have found out that educational positive reinforcement can have lifelong benefits for students.
One interesting study on the topic was presented in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis in 2001. Researchers worked with a child having an autism specter disorder. When asked to perform tasks, she chose positive reinforcement every single time. Researchers found out that positive reinforcement causes changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to the long-term adoption of desirable behaviors.
Students Get to Discover Their Talents
Positive reinforcement puts emphasis on the talents, the skills and the best personal characteristics of students. It’s the right educational approach for encouraging exploration and helping children pinpoint their strengths.
People who learn through positive reinforcement become more curious and introspective. They’re willing to analyze their own performance and work towards improvements. In the process, they could easily discover new interests or academic strengths that were previously dormant.
When negative reinforcement is being used, students tend to exert the least amount of effort in order to avoid punishment or criticism. They lack the motivation to go above and beyond in the academic process. The approach limits them and prevents talented students from unleashing their full potential.
More Willing to Comply with the Rules
When students get positive reinforcement and an explanation, they see the rules as more fair and they’re willing to comply.
This is one of the reasons why schools and academic institutions that rely on praise and rewards tend to see a smaller number of disciplinary referrals. Academic achievements improve and students also internalize regulations in place to ensure their safety or top performance.
It’s also very important to point out that attendance improves significantly in classes where positive reinforcement is employed.
The Right Emotional Response
Children who grow up and get positive feedback in the classroom tend to be more emotionally balanced, less angry and having a higher self-esteem than students who have to learn through negative reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement teaches students they can’t do anything right and that there’ll be consequences. As a result, students can’t really feel good about their accomplishments. Such an approach can be detrimental when it comes to building student confidence in the long run.
There are many forms of positive reinforcement and it’s applicable in just about every classroom. Being publicly praised, getting a small reward for an accomplishment or verbal acknowledgement from a teacher can all play an important role in the educational process. The benefits of positive reinforcement are numerous and it can easily be integrated in any existent academic institution.