IMPACT OF REINFORCEMENT ON SECONDARY STUDENTS ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Background to the study
In behavioral psychology, reinforcement is a consequence applied that will strengthen an organism’s future behavior whenever that behavior is preceded by a specific antecedent stimulus. Reinforcement is a term used in operant conditioning to refer to anything that increases the likelihood that a response will occur. Psychologist B.F. Skinner is considered the father of this theory. Note that reinforcement is defined by the effect that it has on behavior—it increases or strengthens the response. For example, reinforcement might involve presenting praise (the reinforcer) immediately after a child puts away her toys (the response). By reinforcing the desired behavior with praise, the child will be more likely to perform the same actions again in the future.
Reinforcement can include anything that strengthens or increases a behavior, including specific tangible rewards, events, and situations. In a classroom setting, for example, types of reinforcement might include praise, getting out of unwanted work, token rewards, candy, extra playtime, and fun activities.
Reinforcement is one of the teachers most valuable behaviour management tools. Positive reinforcement is an interesting technique that helps teachers to improve the overall behaviour of students. Positive reinforcement can be explained simply as “timely encouragement” which is gentle and effective at the same time.
The words, actions and inactions of a teacher can make or mar the academic performance of a student. Students need positive reinforcement to improve their performances. The researcher as a secondary school teacher had a personal experience with a student who complained bitterly about her mathematics teacher calling her names like “escort, olodo” This incident threw this child off balance as her performance was affected in most subjects, including the subject of one of the researchers (English). This student was one of the best students in the researcher‟s subject, her woeful performance warranted the researcher to engage her in a chat which revealed the encounter she (the student) had with her mathematics teacher. The researcher being a counsellor/teacher engaged the mathematics teacher in a consent of the principal of the school, a talk was delivered to the teachers on “Positive Reinforcement for Academic Enhancement” during a staff meeting. Positive Reinforcement is now a watch- word in the researcher‟s school. The academic of performance of this student was monitored and a tremendous improvement was noticed thereafter. That shows the power of the words of a teacher whether positive or negative.
The need for high academic achievement in schools is very key to anyone who see education as an instrument of societal transformation and development. Most teachers are interested in just using the conventional methods of teaching without considering how positive reinforcement can impact positively on students‟ academic achievement.
Akinade (2012) defined positive reinforcement as reinforcement that involves the application of pleasant or desirable stimuli in the treatment of behaviour. In other words, positive reinforcement is the encouragement that follows good behaviour. For instance, a student submits an assignment on time and includes some extra information that she or he gathered about the topic. The teacher wanting to appreciate the student‟s efforts asks the other students to clap her. The teacher‟s action acts as an impetus for the student to repeat the same effort again. Positive reinforcement as the name implies is a hassle-free technique to bring about a sense of responsibility and discipline in a class. It does not involve any kind of force that would pressurize a student into behaving well. Positive reinforcement can be in the form of verbal remarks like praises, commendations, compliments, approval, encouragement and affirmation e.g. good job, well done, nice work etc. or tangible rewards like cash gift, pen, cake, sweets, erasers etc. or none-verbal rewards like being clapped, a pat on the back, being smiled at etc to encourage the repetition of such behaviour. The researcher conceives positive reinforcement as any activity that motivates a learner to do more of his activities to achieve a better result.
Iwundu (2009) defined academic achievement as the degree or level of success attained at the end of an academic endeavour. Lin in Buseri (2017),conceive academic achievement to be the outcome of education, the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved his or her educational goals. However, academic achievement is commonly measured by examinations or continuous assessment, but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspect is most important.
Several studies have revealed that positive reinforcement has a great influence on the academic achievement of students and may increase their grades. Amadi and Onyeike (2015) conducted an experimental study among 120 JS1 students in Abia State on the effectiveness of token economy and verbal rewards on students‟ academic achievement in Igbo language in Aba North Local Government Area of Abia State. The results of the study revealed that token economy which is a form of tangible positive reinforcement significantly enhanced students‟ academic performance over verbal rewards which are intangible forms of positive reinforcement although the verbal rewards significantly improved academic performance over the control group. Nnodum, Agbaenyi and Ugwuegbulam (2014) in another study investigated the efficacy of positive reinforcement (PR) and self-control (SC) in the management of aggression among pupils. 30 pupils were randomly selected through a purposive sampling procedure in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State using a quasi-experimental design with three experimental groups comprising, two treatment groups and one control group. The results revealed that positive reinforcement was more effective than self-control (SC) both at post-test and follow-up periods in reducing aggression among the pupils. Ukoha (2002), effectively used positive reinforcement to improve students‟ performance in mathematics. Although the number of subjects used, type of research design adopted and the area of study were not indicated. Results proved that positive reinforcement improve mathematics achievement among students. In the same vein,Onunkwo and Unachukwu (2003, 2005) also used verbal rewards to enhance secondary school students‟ commitment to take home assignment as well as improving adolescents‟ cognitive achievement in biology respectively. Results revealed that verbal rewards (positive reinforcement) improved students‟ commitment to take home assignment and improved cognitive achievement in Biology. In a related development, positive reinforcement was also used by Chima and Nnodum (2006) to control late coming behaviour among secondary school students. Ingsol in Amadi et al (2015), conducted an investigation on the effect o token economy reinforcement on students‟ achievement. Results indicated that token economy would be difficult to implement at home. But will be very successful in a school setting. The use of these techniques in school settings is appropriate because daily routines are clearly established. Adult supervision is consistent and assesses rein-forcers such as recess and free time can be strictly controlled. Deci & Ryan in Amadi et al (2015), in their investigation showed that positive verbal reward increased athlete‟s intrinsic motivation and feelings of competence irrespective of the amount of positive verbal feedback presented. Reitman (2001) conducted an experiment with token economy technique on children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Deficiency (ADHD) to evaluate the effectiveness of token economy as a behaviour management technique. Results shows that it helped to reduce the amount of behaviour problems while completing homework which led to the decrease in stress level.
Statement of the problem
Students academic attainment in recent times have been far from being desirous at all level of education, particularly at the secondary school level among public school students. The researcher observed that many students complete their secondary school education without being able to read well, and display mastery in other relevant subjects. The effectiveness of reinforcement cannot be over emphasized as documented in journals, books and research articles. Yet there are many teachers who are having difficulties implementing the technique. This is because some teachers often do not understand how reinforcement works. The issue now is, can reinforcement improve academic achievement of secondary school students in Ondo State, having successfully worked for students in other parts of the country and the world? Students have challenges with the learning process due to the words, actions and inactions of teachers, who knows if it can be a panacea for academic achievement among student in Ondo State of Nigeria? Given the above, the researchers investigated the impact Reinforcement on Academic Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Idanre local government area of Ondo State.
Purpose of the study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate impact of Reinforcement on Secondary Students Academic Achievement in Idanre LGA.
The specific objective is
- To identify positive and negative reinforcement, practices at secondary school level in Idanre Local Government Area
- To compare public and private schools on the reinforcement practices at secondary school level.
- To examine the perceived effect of the reinforcement on students’ academic achievement.
- To examine the extent to which tangible rewards affect academic achievement of male and female senior secondary school students in Idanre local government area of Ondo State
The following research questions were raised to guide the study
- What types of positive and negative reinforcements are used at secondary school level?
- Do public and private secondary schools differ on the reinforcement practices?
- What are the effect of reinforcement on students’ academic achievement?
- To what extent does tangible rewards affect academic achievement of secondary school students in Idanre local government area?
The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant different between public and private secondary schools on the reinforcement practices
Ho2: There is no signifianct difference between reinforcement and students academic performance.
Ho3: There is no significant different between tangible rewards and academic achievement of male and female senior secondary school students in Idanre local government Area.
Significance of the Study
The study would in no small measure enables the teachers to appreciate the effectiveness of reinforcers and reinforcement in teaching and learning situations. Similarly, it would be incumbent on the study to expose the researcher to various positive and negative attitudes to students and the implications on academic performances. Further recommendations on how reinforcers can be useful to educational stakeholders was drawn from this work for further research studies. Above all, the school system stands a chance to benefit immensely from the implementation of robust positive reinforcements which will improve the attitude and academic performance of students.
Scope of the Study
This research was only limited to ten selected secondary schools within Idanre local government area of Ondo State
Operational definition of terms
Achievement test: A test that measures how much and well a person has learnt over a given period of time.
Attitude: The tendency to respond either favourably or unfavourably to someone or something .
Learning: A long-lasting change in behaviour due to repeated experience.
Motivation: A strong inner drive to achieve a specific goal.
Negative reinforcement: The removal of something desirable in order to make someone do what such considers undesirable.
Performance: The achievement of someone that can be monitored by another person.
Positive reinforcement: The addition of something desirable in order to make someone do what such considers undesirable.
Reinforcement: Anything that follows a behaviour to maintain or increase it.
Reinforcer: Something or someone that increase the rate of happening of another either when added or removed from it
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