Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bribe them with Technology

My students think I am bribing them when I say.” If the class gets all their work done by Thursday, they can go down to the computer lab on Friday”. If I told them I was using negative reinforcement from behavior theory they would laugh at me and say “what ever”. To them they know from experience that if they get all their work finished by the end of Thursday, they won’t have any to do on Friday. Taking away the fifth day of boring class room activities and allowing them to work on the computers with geometry sketch pad and other math related activities is a use of negative reinforcement. When educators say that behaviorism is out dated and doesn’t have a place in the classroom, I have to disagree. After twenty years of teaching I have seen my behaviorism practices diminish, I have eliminated all severe punishment, but positive and negative reinforcements play an important part of my classroom management. “Using behaviorist theory in the classroom can be rewarding for both students and teachers” (Standridge, 2002).
Reinforcing effort through technology sounds like a great idea that I can implement at our school. Our administrators are always looking for ways to promote outstanding efforts made by our students. We have examples of the our student’s national recognized art works on the web page but there isn’t anything about the hard work some of the students have done to turn their lives around. I know one young man that had no goals or vision his freshman and sophomore years. At the end of tenth grade he had one credit and was about to drop out of school when a mentor changed his attitude. In two years he has earned his Eagle Award for the Boy Scouts, caught up on his credits so he can graduate with his class this year, and he has passed all his tests so he can enlist in the US Navy. He is a model for other students, parents and community members to see how with the right help it is never too late to change your life around and be successful. Getting this type of story out to the public on the school web page is a great use of technology reinforcing efforts of our students.

Standridge,M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from


  1. I am really amazed at the use of technology with such a challenging subject like math. I must compliment you on this, your student are really motivated to achieve. Just sitting with a paper and pencil would not cut it for math, they really need interactive hands on tasks in order to appreciate and show the effort that is required for success.

  2. Ms. Groselle,

    What an awesome story you shared about the gentleman who had started to get his life and education back on track. That would certainly be an awesome story of inspiration that would be a great addition to any school website (with the student's permission, of course!). Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski (2007) explain that using technology as a means of communication can help students make a connection between effort and achievement. Here, the gentleman's story can be an authentic testimony of this connection if it were displayed on the school web site. Students would then be shown from one of their peers that they are not the only ones who have had to face adversity.

    A unique situation that comes to my mind when thinking about how to integrate technology through a behaviorist approach is the use of cell phones. Right now my school is having a difficult time in keeping students from texting and using their cell phones during the school day even though they are not permitted to so. Throughout my studies at Walden, I have come across a few very interesting views about integrating cell phones into education. For example, cell phones are equipped with calculators which can be used for math. GPS programs on cell phones can make for a great social studies of physical education lesson. However, would permitting the use of cell phones eliminate our largest problem which is students using the cell phones during inappropriate times during the school or would it create more of a problem? Maybe I am getting completely off track but it just seems that when you tell students they can’t do something, they become more motivated to do it and vice versa. We are also debating the use of iPods in our school. Again, the students are permitted to use them but some students behave more appropriately and can concentrate better (i.e. during reading or typing) when they are listening to the iPods. Like I said, I may be getting completely off track, but it is just a thought I have had while studying the behaviorist learning theory this week!

    Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

  3. That is such a great way to get your students to get their work completed and they think they are getting to go to the computer lab as a reward. It is amazing how bribing them works so well. When they don't realize that it was in your lesson plans the entire time. Great Strategy!!!