Now it’s time to talk about reinforcement schedules.
First, the definition:
- A reinforcement schedule is a rule governing the delivery of reinforcers.
- How often will the reinforcer be given?
- Under what circumstances will it be given?
The key to knowing which reinforcement schedule to use is to think of the learning phase for the child. Learning a new task will be hard for the child, so she should be reinforced every time she does that hard thing.
Once the behavior has been learned, it is important to back off from the continuous reinforcement. At this point you want to “maintain” the behavior, or, keep it going. The best way to keep a behavior going is to reinforce it every once in a while. In the early stages, you would still reinforce the behavior fairly often. With time, you will stretch out the reinforcement more and more, until it is sporadic.
The best way to implement a variable schedule is just to reinforce the best examples of the behavior when they occur. All behavior is variable, so if you choose incidences that are in the top of the quality range, you will maintain a high quality of the behavior – Think of these as gold star behaviors.
If you just reinforce randomly or on a prescribed ratio, you will sometimes (perhaps even often) be reinforcing lower quality incidences of the behavior. To keep a high quality of behavior, try to reinforce the best examples and this will naturally create a variable and random schedule of reinforcement.
In the meantime, you and your child will be busy with learning yet another behavior, so she will be getting continuous reinforcement for that new skill. In a few moments we will come back to this idea of reinforcing the best example.
Introduction to Module 4
Review and Agenda
Purpose of Reinforcement
Finding Good Reinforcers
The Tag as a Reinforcer
How to Reinforce Effectively
Effective Reinforcement Delivery
Wrap-Up and Q&A