1.1 Background to the Study

Reinforcement is the basic factor of operant conditioning theory proposed by Bhurus Fredric Skinner in 1953. Skinner was a psychologist from Harward University but their work play a significant role in both the fields of psychology and education (Weiten, Lloyd, Dunn & Hammer, 2009).

In reinforcement the stimulus increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated. Reinforcement is either negative or positive. Mostly positive reinforcement is the synonymous of reward. Reinforcement is subjective sometimes it works as a reinforcer for one person but not for others. Positive reinforcement effects our every day life and personality while on the other hand negative reinforcement effects the development of avoidance tendencies (Feldman ). Both reward and punishment are means of motivation and have significant effects on behavior.

A study conducted by Green and Todd suggests that both positive and negative reinforcement effects students performance but positively reinforced students scored high and surprisingly some high grade performers of the class scored low during experiment (Wallace & Goldstein, 1997). Another study by Wheatley, at al, 2009 suggests that use of positive reinforcement is very effective and high impact technique to improve students behavior but it is important for teachers to establish a safe comfortable, supportive and pleasurable environment in the classroom.

Conoray and their colleagues reported that creation of comfortable and positive classroom environment is the most powerful tool of teachers which increases children’s learning and decreases problem behavior from occurring. Positive reinforcement may be effectively used by the teachers to teach students appropriate behavior and social skills which they are lacking.

Many teachers are using only praise as reinforcement effectively in their classes (Conroy, at al, 2009).

Schedules of reinforcement includes, continues reinforcement in which responses are reinforced every time when it occurs. In the fixed ratio schedule the response is reinforced when it occurs after a specific number of time while a variable ratio schedule reinforce a response when it comes after a variable number of times. A fixed interval schedule reinforce any correct response when it comes after a specified time interval passes following the last response while a variable interval schedule reinforce any correct response that occurs after a variable time interval passes after the last reinforcement (Wallace & Goldstein, 1997).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Classroom challenges faced by teachers may vary. However, the most common teaching issues may include a lack of student involvement in the classroom, disruptive behavior, and ineffective classroom management that affect students’ academic performance. This study aimed to determine whether using positive reinforcement can enhance student academic performance, behavior management strategies, and social and emotional learning development.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is assessing how positive reinforcement can affect students’ performance. Specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To Assess the Impact of positive reinforcement on student academic performance.
  2. To examine the role of positive reinforcement in managing students’ behavior in class.
  3. To determine the role of positive reinforcement in increasing students’ social-emotional learning skills.

1.4 Research Questions

To guide the study and achieve the objectives of the study, the following research questions were formulated:

1. Does positive reinforcement have an impact on student academic performance?

2. Does positive reinforcement play a role in developing and managing students’ behavior in classes?

3. Does positive reinforcement increase students' social-emotional learning skills?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following research hypothesis was developed and tested for the study:

Ho: There is no statistical significant relationship between positive reinforcement and academic performance of students.

Hi: There is a statistical significant relationship between positive reinforcement and academic performance of students.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study is important for many reasons. The following are the major stakeholders this paper through its practical and theoretical implications and findings will be of great significance:

Firstly, the paper will benefit major stakeholders and policy makers in the education sector. The various analysis, findings and discussions outlined in this paper will serve as a guide in enabling major positive changes in the industry and sub-sectors.

Secondly, the paper is also beneficial to the organizations used for the research. Since first hand data was gotten and analysed from the organization, they stand a chance to benefit directly from the findings of the study in respect to the their various organizations. These findings will fast track growth and enable productivity in the organisations used as a case study.

Finally, the paper will serve as a guide to other researchers willing to research further into the subject matter. Through the conclusions, limitations and gaps identified in the subject matter, other student and independent researchers can have a well laid foundation to conduct further studies.