The purpose of this exercise is to teach the concept of positive reinforcement and also to provide an idea of the kind of self-instructional exercises used in many Athabasca University course packages. Some technical notes about this lesson are available. A page of frequently asked questions about positive reinforcement is also available.
In the first part of this tutorial, the concept of positive reinforcement is defined and illustrated in six example/nonexample pairs. In an example/nonexample pair, an example of a concept is slightly altered to form a nonexample; this enables the student to tell the difference between examples and nonexamples that have similar content.
In the second part of this tutorial, the Practice Exercise, students classify examples and nonexamples and are given feedback about their performance. This task gives the student practice at responding to novel examples and nonexamples, ones that have not been previously presented.
Note that if positive reinforcement were being taught in a standard course, much more background material would be provided about the concept to give students an appropriate context in which to understand the concept, relate it to other concepts, and eventually to be able to apply the concept. In this tutorial, however, this background material is omitted in favor of demonstrating some important features of self-instructional exercises that can be effectively used in distance education.