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Dean:

Your experience doesn't deny research; it denies the misrepresentation of
some research. Don't confuse "positive reinforcement" with "reward."
(That's one of the complaints I have of certain poseurs who write on
educational topics.) A reward is a boon given as a sort of payment for a
behavior. A positive reinforcement is, by definition, a response to a
behavior that results in a continuation or increase in frequency of that
behavior. Therefore a reward that does not influence the behavior
positively is not a positive reinforcement. On the other hand, a response
that we might consider a punishment--such as an admonishment for bad
behavior--might be a positive reinforcement, if it results in a
continuation or increase in frequency of the behavior--as it sometimes
does!

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>     The equation is the final arbiter.
Assistant Professor, Mathematics                    --Werner Heisenberg
Kapi'olani Community College            The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
4303 Diamond Head Road                              --Bill Walton
Honolulu HI  96816                      History is the final arbiter.
(808) 734-9371                                      --Edward Gibbon

On Wed, 3 Nov 1999, Dean Mancina wrote:

<<beginning omitted>>

> 6. Someone mentioned the researched advantages of positive over
> negative reinforcement. As you can probably tell, my classes are
> points-based. (I've found that many of my students believe they are
> the victim of their professors' grading 'power.' By using points and
> requiring that they make choices about what to do / not do in the
> class and keep track of their points, they learn that a grade is
> something that they create. When students miss a class meeting, I
> deduct 10 points from their total points! That seems to send them a
> very clear message about attendance. (Interestingly, much more clear
> than telling them about the importance of regular attendance.) One
> semester I tried the more positive approach of giving +10 points for
> each class meeting attended, rather than the negative points. It was
> the only semester I ever had an attendance problem, and I never tried
> that again, research or not!!!

<<remainder omitted>>