Random, Intermittent and Variable Reinforcement (RIVR)
This is Strategy #5 RIVR from Dr Lee’s book ‘Internal Drive Theory’, if you haven’t read the first four strategies, click here.
In this strategy, we look at using rewards to help influence the child/student’s behavior.
Firstly, we have to distinguish between ‘approval’ and ‘reinforcement’. Approval for the right behavior should be constant, however, the reward should be RIV (random, intermittent and variable). An example she uses is the Jackpot machine. Since the rewards is RIV, the person is motivated to keep on pulling the lever in the hope of getting the intense pleasure of hitting the jackpot. This is why some are addicted to gambling. A chemical released in our bodies called dopamine helps to reinforce this addiction.
What to Look Out for When Using RIVR for Learning Chemistry
- Use a reward that is viewed by the child/student as highly positive.
- Rewards needs to be given immediately after the desired behavior for there to be a tight link.
How to use RIVR for Learning Chemistry
- When there’s a spontaneous RIVR in class, celebrate it together with them. This elevates their happiness to exhilaration.
- Make it memorable so that they will want more.
- Avoid bribes or any physical things/toys/gadgets that is tangible. It may cause the child/student to associate the happiness with the bribe rather than the joy of achievement. (Example: Economic tuition teacher gives plane tickets and ipads for test prizes)
- If you’re a parent, use hugs and lots of verbal encouragements. Even more play-time than usual will cause a positive reaction.
Dr Lee went on to talk about the use of punishments to deter undesirable behaviors. It is mostly the reverse of RIVR, we need to choose a punishment that is intensely painful (thus memorable) to the child. It does not have to be a physical punishment, it can be a verbal one. However, we need to be careful that the child/student does not link the punishment to studying. The child/student need to link the punishment to the undesirable behavior.
An important point was that parents should not use RIVP when they are not in full control of themselves, i.e. when they are very angry. This may cause the parent to inflict more pain than necessary.
Linking results to effort
Sometimes, the punishment might simply be inflicted by Life itself naturally. In that case, parents and teachers just need to help link it back to the undesirable behavior. We need to avoid adding salt to their wounds when Life inflicts punishment. Remember to keep our Emotional Connection (strategy #2) strong. We could keep a private record of what the students have not done throughout the term and show them the correlation when results are out.
Alright, that’s it for strategy #5, RIVR for learning chemistry.
Go on to strategy #6.
ps: A classical experiment done by Pavlov on dogs was one of the pioneers in conditioning studies.