斯金纳自己的操作性条件反射与经典条件反射的区别在于，它关注的是自愿行为的改变而不是反射。操作性条件反射的定义是许多行为学家所描述的一种学习形式，在此过程中，由于被强化(Coon & Mitterer 2008)，响应的频率增加。强化和惩罚是操作性条件作用的核心工具，它们要么是积极的(响应)要么是消极的(在回应后撤回)(Pritchard 2005)。正面强化显然是学校的一种基本精神，在那里我完成了我的第一次实习和观察，这种操作性条件反射在我观察到的识字课中很明显。孩子们会被给予一个“团队点”，以确保他们在书中所填写的每一个正确的拼写，而这在老师上课的开始就得到了加强，鼓励孩子们发挥他们最好的能力。孩子们会在周末的时候把球队的分数计算在内，而获胜的桌子会得到固定设备的奖励。大多数孩子似乎对这一策略作出了积极的反应，然而，很明显，一小撮人并没有受到这种奖励制度的激励。在我的观察中，还有一个操作性条件反射的例子是在数学课上，其中两个孩子一直表现不佳。学校有一个非常明确的、有组织的制裁程序，惩罚是由班主任实施的，老师在给孩子两次口头警告后，决定在一天结束时收回学生的“黄金时间”。这是一个很明显的例子，斯金纳将其归类为操作性条件反射，当一种不良行为被去除刺激后，这种行为就会减少。或者说，这个理论是这样的。是不公正的评论这种教学方法的有效性通过从一个单一的观察(Mercer 1995)的数学课程,虽然孩子们明显出现心烦意乱的惩罚和安静地工作了其余的教训,这将在多大程度上作为不当行为的一个障碍在未来(持续)仍不清楚。
Skinner's own operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning in that it concerns voluntary behavioural changes as oppose to reflex. The definition of operant conditioning is a form of learning described by many behaviourists in which a response increases in frequency as a result of its being followed by reinforcement (Coon & Mitterer 2008). Reinforcement and punishment are the core tools of operant conditioning and are either positive (delivered following a response) or negative (withdrawn following a response) (Pritchard 2005). Positive reinforcement was clearly a fundamental ethos of the school where I completed my first placement and observations, and this type of operant conditioning was evident to see within the Literacy lesson I observed. Children would be given a 'team point' for every correct spelling that they completed in their booklets and this was reinforced at the start of the lesson by the teacher to encourage children to work to their best capabilities. Children would count up there team points at the end of the week, with the winning table being rewarded with stationary equipment. The majority of children appeared to respond positively to this strategy, however, it was evident that a small handful did not feel motivated by this reward system. A further example of operant conditioning from my observations was in the Mathematics lesson, where two children in particular were consistently misbehaving. The school has a very clear and structured sanction process and a punishment was implemented by the class teacher, who after giving the children two verbal warnings, decided to retract the pupil's 'golden time' at the end of the day. This is a clear example of what Skinner classifies as operant conditioning in that when an undesirable behaviour is followed by a removal of stimulus, this results in a decrease in this behaviour. Or so the theory would suggest. It would be unjust to pass comment on the effectiveness of this teaching method from one single observation (Mercer 1995) of a Mathematics lesson as although the children were clearly appeared upset by the punishment and worked quietly for the rest of the lesson, the extent to which this would act as a barrier for misbehaviour in the future (consistently) remains unclear.