When Miss Johnson first enters the classroom

When Miss Johnson first enters the classroom, what behaviours are the students demonstrating towards the teacher. What conditioning (operant &/or classical) would have occurred in the past to continue this behaviour?
When Miss Johnson first enters the room, the students pay little attention to her, show no respect, and try to intimidate her into leaving.
Classical conditioning would have occurred in the past to enforce this behaviour. The unconditioned stimulus – the lack of care/concern for the Academy students – is paired with the conditioned stimulus – substitute teachers. This produces the conditioned response of students’ poor behaviour and their lack of attention toward Miss Johnson.

Operant conditioning can also explain the poor behaviour observed in this scene. Negative reinforcement has been used to cement the students’ insubordinate behaviour. By removing the unpleasant stimulus – Miss Johnson by intimidating her into leaving the room – the students’ unruly behaviour increases as the behaviour has been rewarded. Furthermore, positive reinforcement is shown in this scene, as Emilio’s behaviour of threatening the teacher is increased by the pleasant stimulus – the cheering and applause of his classmates.

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What strategies does Miss Johnson use to get students’ attention?
Miss Johnson uses the method of classical conditioning to obtain the students’ attention. Before the conditioning, Miss Johnson was the neutral stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus – Karate and Miss Johnson’s experience of being a Marine – evoke the unconditioned response – students’ interest/attention. The unconditioned stimulus – Karate and Miss Johnson’s experience of being a Marine are paired with Miss Johnson to produce the conditioned response – students’ attention.

What types of reinforcement is Miss Johnson using when she is walking around the classroom (Everyone in this class at this time has an A, all you go to do is keep it)
Miss Johnson applies positive reinforcement. To motivate the desired behaviour of class participation and involvement, every student is rewarded with the positive stimulus – an A grade – to encourage this behaviour.

Negative reinforcement is shown in this scene. By giving the students a “clean slate”, Miss Johnson removes the negative emotion – a sense of worthlessness/failure at high school – which encourages a higher level of productivity, participation and, involvement for the Academy students. Negative reinforcement could also explain the students increase in learning and hard-work, to avoid the negative feeling of losing their A grade.

What are other examples of positive and negative reinforcement or punishment used throughout the movie by Miss Johnson, students, principal etc?
Positive reinforcement is utilised by Miss Johnson when she teaches for the first time. By rewarding the students with the positive stimulus – candy bar after answering a question, it motivates the students to increase the level of class participation and effort. Later when the students are given their first assignment, the similar positive reinforcer is used by Miss Johnson. By rewarding her students with a free trip to the amusement park after finishing their assignment, the frequency of the desired behaviour of completing the assignment and reading poetry increases.
When Miss Johnson and Raul are at the restaurant, she uses negative reinforcement to ease Raul’s discomfort. By ordering the same meal as Raul does, Miss Johnson demonstrates his order of a chicken is not socially inadequate and inappropriate. Acting as a negative stimulus, it helps to remove the uneasiness of being in an unfamiliar environment for Raul, which increases the desired behaviour of relaxation being more confident at the restaurant.

By using positive punishment, Mr Grandey makes Miss Johnson conform to the school policy. After learning Miss Johnson teaches her students Karate, Mr Grandey humiliates her in a verbally aggressive way and threatens her that such behaviour can lead to a lawsuit, which results in the decrease of Miss Johnson’s unconventional teaching methods.
There are many good examples of classical conditioning that occur throughout the movie.

When the students hear Miss Johnson is asked to stop by the principal’s office for a conversation, they immediately associate it with trouble.

UCS: Trouble
UCR: Students gloating
CS: Conversation at Principal’s office
CR: Students gloating
The students pair the bell with dismissal.

UCS: Dismissal
UCR: Leaving the classroom
CS: The bell
CR: Leaving the classroom
When studying the song “Mr Tambourine Man”, the students associate the lyrics with poetry.

UCS: Song lyrics
UCR: students’ interest
CS: poetry
CR: students’ interest
Miss Johnson associates the barking sound with dog’s act of aggression.

UCS: dog’s act of aggression
UCR: fear
CS: barking of a dogCR: fear
When teaching her students poetry, Miss Johnson pairs the physical reward such as candy bars which produces satisfaction with being stronger and in the society.

UCS: Physical reward
UCR: satisfaction
CS: Being stronger and tougher in the society.

CR: satisfaction
Callie associates her pregnancy with Clearview’s teenage mum program
UCS: Clearview
UCR: incapable of finishing school and graduating
CS: pregnancy
CR: incapable of finishing school and graduating
What is the process of classical conditioning that makes three boys fight even after being told not to?
In this scene, the unconditioned stimulus – the disagreement naturally produces the unconditioned response – fighting – due to the inability to communicate between the two sides. Because of classical conditioning, the conditioned stimulus – the desire of maintaining reputation is paired with the disagreement, which produces the conditioned response of fighting. Even though the unconditioned stimulus the disagreement is no longer present after the first fight, the boys continue to fight due to the conditioned response, which is caused by the conditioned stimulus – the desire of maintaining their reputation.

What is the process of learning Miss Johnson is trying to achieve when she speaks to Raul’s parents?
As Miss Johnson intends to increase Raul’s self-esteem and his performance in class, she utilises both positive and negative reinforcement while speaking to his parents. By praising Raul in front of his parents with the comment “what a pleasure it’s been having Raul in my class this semester”, it acts as a positive reinforcer, which encourages Raul to increase the desired behaviour of good work ethic and appropriate behaviours. Furthermore, by telling Raul’s parents that he is one of Miss Johnson’s favourite students, it removes the negative perception of his parents which see their son as a misbehaving child and an academic failure. It also removes the previously intended punishment of Raul from his parents. As a result, it motivates Raul to become a better person.

How does Miss Johnson use the Dylan/Dylan contest to get the students to study?
The Dylan/Dylan contest serves as an example of positive reinforcement used by Miss Johnson. In order to improve the students’ work ethics in studying poetry, they are provided with a positive stimulus – dining with Miss Johnson at the best restaurant in the town, after identifying two Dylan poems that contain similar theme. The meaningful reward of dining opportunity increases the desired behaviours of studying and analysing poetry within the Academy students.

What are the different schedules of reinforcement used by Miss Johnson at different stages throughout the movie?
Miss Johnson utilises continuous reinforcement when teaching her students about basic English grammar. Every time a correct answer is given by a student, the person is rewarded with a positive reinforcer of a candy bar, which motivates the students to increase the level of participation in the classroom. Verbal compliments such as “you guys are sharp”, “Poetry will be a piece of cake for this crowd” are also used as a positive reinforcer.
Dylan/Dylan contest is an example of variable-ratio schedule. To receive the positive reinforcer which is the dining opportunity with Miss Johnson, the students are required to research and analyse an unpredicted number of a poem written by Dylan Thomas. The students don’t know how many poems they need to go through before getting the reward. However, they are aware the more they research, the higher chance they might win. This encourages the students to increase the frequency of the desired behaviour –studying poetry.
At the restaurant, Miss Johnson utilises fixed interval schedule to motivate Raul to study. Raul will be rewarded by the self-satisfaction of keeping his promise to Miss Johnson after graduating. In order to receive the reward, he needs to avoid being kicked out of the school due to underachieving academic performance. Therefore, to maintain a good grade throughout the time until graduation, Raul’s motivated behaviour of hardworking is produced steadily and consistently before receiving the reinforcement
How do the students get Miss Johnson to stay another year?
By using operant conditioning, the students make Miss Johnson to stay. Acting as a negative reinforcer, Callie’s returning removes the guilt caused by the students Miss Johnson lost throughout the year, which encourages Miss Johnson’s behaviour to continue her teaching career at Claremont high school. The students also utilise positive reinforcement. To make her stay for another year, they describe Miss Johnson as “their light”, which acts as a positive stimulus which indicates she makes their life colourful and meaningful. Another positive stimulus is students calling Miss Johnson their “Mr Tamborine Man”, providing the knowledge they need. The pleasant feeling evoked by the positive stimuli motivate Miss Johnson to stay.

Extended response
Observational Learning
Before the arrival of Miss Johnson, the students had developed a series of inappropriate behaviours through observational learning. Due to their exposure to the hostile neighbourhood environment and uneducated family members, the students’ behaviours were heavily affected by observing, retaining, and replicating behaviour from those who were around them. As a result of observational learning, Raul chooses to buy his jacket on the street instead of in a store. He is motivated to make such choice because he may have paid close attention to the occurrence of similar behaviour before in his neighbourhood. Retention is exhibited as Raul is able to remember the steps of buying an item on the street. Furthermore, as Raul has the capability to perform such a purchase on the street, which serves as the reproduction factor of observational learning. Additionally, due to Raul’s insufficiency of finances, he is motivated to purchase the jacket on the street as the jacket is cheaper. After Miss Johnson’s arrival, who is from an educated and civilised background, the students learn to behave more appropriately by observing, retaining, and replicating her behaviours.

Operant Conditioning
The use of operant conditioning contributed greatly to students’ behaviour modification. In early stages of the film where the students demonstrate all kinds of inept behaviour, Miss John uses positive reinforcement, which increases the desired behaviour of class participation using continuous reinforcement. Later, when the frequency of the desired behaviour of participation and work ethics has increased, Miss Johnson continues to utilise positive reinforcement. She reduces the number of the rewards, successfully motivates her students to furtherly modify their behaviour and improve their work ethics using variable-ratio schedule. At the end of the film, Miss Johnson no longer requires physical reward to motivate the students, as they now see learning as a training to make their mind stronger, a chance to be successful, and a mean that leads to more opportunities in the future. Acting as a positive stimulus, the students are reinforced by their perception towards learning, which increases the level of efforts and participation.

Classical Conditioning
At the end of the film, by using classical conditioning, Miss Johnson has created a long-lasting effect on her students’ perception of education and learning. Initially, the students perceived education as meaningless and useless. By empathising on the connection between education and choices in life, Miss Johnson conditioned the students into associating the two stimuli will lead to a better future. The students pair the unconditioned stimulus – future choices with the conditioned stimulus – education and learning, which produces the conditioned response of productivity and dedication at school.


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