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Justin the Lonely Fourth Grader: An Example of Social, Operant, and Classical Conditioning

Essay by   •  January 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  615 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,346 Views

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Justin is a fourth grader with a rocky history. He recently moved from Akron, Ohio to Oregon and is having trouble coping with the change in his surroundings. Justin is having social and academic difficulty progressing in his new school. He is having difficulty concentrating in class and gets extremely nervous when his teacher tries to interact with him. Classical, operant, and social conditioning will be used in order to explain and shape his behavior.

Classical conditioning explains why Justin is struggling academically and socially. Classical conditioning has caused Justin's unease about interacting with his teacher, Mr. Kotter. Justin moved to Oregon to live with his mother because his father is abusive. The neutral stimulus in this situation is Justin's father. The unconditioned stimulus is the abuse, the unconditioned response is fear. Therefore, the conditioned stimulus is Justin's father and the conditioned response is fear. Justin has generalized that all adult males are abusive, causing him to get nervous when Mr. Kotter tries to interact with him.

Social conditioning will be used to make Justin feel comfortable in his new environment. Mr. Kotter will be encouraged to interact with his students, as a form of modeling, very often in a friendly manner in an attempt to reverse the generalization Justin has made. Through observational learning Justin will see that his teacher is not abusive. A student with perceived social status will be instructed to engage himself in class in order to get Justin to model prosocial behavior.

Operant conditioning will be used to shape Justin's behavior at school. Specifically, shaping will be applied. Every time he makes a step towards improvement, socially and academically, Justin will be positively reinforced. It is assumed Justin is capable of socially interacting with his classmates, and capable of paying attention and participating in class. The first step will be to get Justin to smile or at least make eye contact with Mr. Kotter or his classmates. If he does this, Mr. Kotter will incorporate drawing into the lesson plan. Second, if Justin says "Hello," "Good Morning," etcetera, he will get a hockey trading card. Third, if Justin participates in class he will get a baseball trading card. Fourth, if Justin interacts (having a conversation, playing at recess) with Mr. Kotter or his classmates he will get his choice of either

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