What would you do for a jellybean?

The Year 12 Psychology cohort have just studied B.F. Skinner’s 1938 concept of operant conditioning.  The aim of this lesson was for students to shoot paper balls into a bin. Each time a person successfully got a paper ball in the bin they received a jelly bean (positive reinforcement). If they didn’t, the group heckled them (negative reinforcement / punishment). 

Our amazing pre-service teacher Bella, facilitated the discussion with questions like:

Did the jellybeans cause a change in behaviour?
Were the jellybeans an appropriate reward?
What if the reward was not desirable?
How could you negatively reinforce the behaviour?22
What did the heckling serve as?
What other variables could have influenced the behaviour?
What schedule of reinforcement were you using to encourage the behaviours?


This session prompted lots of laughs and was a fun way to introduce Skinner’s findings about observable human behaviours.