Instrumental conditioning is useful in shaping responses and altering the individual’s behavior. It is a learning process that involves the subject linking behavior with consequences. Much of what individuals learn is the result of such associations. However, instrumental or operant learning suggest the association is deliberate. Terry (2009) recognizes Thorndike’s “Law of Effect” in explaining that the behavior exhibited by the individual is a result of the associations the individual forms between behavior and consequences. Instrumental conditioning requires the individual to emit the behavior voluntarily and the trainer then reinforces the behavior. This paper provides an example of how this process works. First, the selection and description of a learning situation facilitates the comparison and contrast of positive and negative reinforcements as well as punishment. Then, an evaluation of the forms of instrumental learning in relation to the selected learning situation provides understanding of instrumental conditioning in the learning process. Although limited by the types of behavior that might be shaped through conditioning, instrumental training is a viable training tool for some situations.
The Learning Situation
A piano teacher elects to specialize in teaching children diagnosed with learning delays related to ADHD. Her motivation stems from the knowledge of the inherent benefits associated with formal music training, the needs of these special children, and knowing that the benefits specific to formal music training are also specific to the needs of the child diagnosed with ADHD.
Benefits of Music
Academic skills may improve in math as the student learns beat, rhythm, and the scales Pattern recognition may also heighten. Piano and other keyboard and percussions require separate movements from the left and right hands as well as feet. This could facilitate coordination and motor skill development. Group classes and recitals influence the development of social skills. Delayed gratification is an important result of practice. Even if the child receives more immediate gratification through deliberate reinforcements, at the end he or she will learn that other types of rewards often follow long after the effort. Instrument knowledge contribute to cultural knowledge as the student learns how the instrument developed and changed to suit other cultures (Kwan, 2013).
The Child Diagnosed with ADHD and Music
Teaching any child to play piano is a multifaceted task. The child must learn eye hand coordination, music theory, technique, terminology, rhythm, focus, and more. This requires attention and practice, neither of which the child with ADHD wishes to deliver. However, music has multiple benefits for the young learner. Researchers using MRI function scanning found a significant correlation of absolute pitch ability and activation of the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left planum temporale. They also noted trained...