In contemporary psychology, the behavioural perspective known as
behaviour analysis emphasises careful measurement of overt observed
behaviour, along with an appreciation of the role of environment just
before and just after the response. Prediction and control of
behaviour are of vital interest to mankind, and behaviour analysis
offers the tools to accomplish this. Behaviour analysis maintains the
primary emphasis on observable behaviour and its relation to
environmental events. This is expressed particularly through the
principle of reinforcement, the idea that patterns of emitted
behaviour can be selected by their consequences (Grant and Evans,
It is impossible to study behaviour either in or outside the
laboratory without encountering a schedule of reinforcement: whenever
behaviour is maintained by a reinforcing stimulus, some schedule is in
effect and is exerting its characteristic influences. Only when there
is a clear understanding of how schedules operate will it be possible
to understand the effects of reinforcing stimuli on behaviour.
Most educational institutions use one of two general forms of testing
schedules, predictable or unpredictable. In an unpredictable schedule,
variable inter-test intervals occur where no anticipation can be made
of when they will happen - pop quizzes are the most common form of
this schedule (Chance, 1999). Predictable schedules can be fixed ratio
or fixed interval in nature.
Fixed interval schedules reinforce behaviour on the basis of time.
Specifically, reinforcement delivery follows the first occurrence of a
... middle of paper ...
Holland J.G., Solomon C., Doran J., and Frezza D.A. (1976) "The
Analysis of Behavior in Planning Instruction", California,
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Kelleher R.W. and Morse W.H. (1968) Determinants of the Behavioral
Effects of Drugs, in Tedeschi D.H. and Tedeschi R.E. (Eds) "Importance
of Fundamental Principles of Drug Evaluation", New York, Raven Press.
Mawhinney V.T., Bostow D.E., Laws D.R., Blumenfeld G.J. and Hopkins
B.L. (1971) A Comparison of Students Studying Behavior Produced by
Daily, Weekly, and Three-Week Testing Schedules, Journal of Applied
Behaviour Analysis, 4(4), p257-264.
Skinner B.F. (1968) "The Technology of Teaching" New York, Appleton.
Zeiler M.D. (1979), Output dynamics, in Zeiler M.D. & Harzem P. (Eds),
"Reinforcement and the Organization of Behaviour", New York, Wiley.
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