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The Concept of Shaping

The Concept of Shaping

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Good habits are essential to success throughout our lives. For anyone in school, this is especially true, with attention spread over social activities, academics, family, and more. Habits, good or bad, are rarely established in a vacuum. It takes a team of people for meaningful change to occur. 

Parents, administrators, and teachers all need to work in concert to shape the habits and performance of their students.


The Concept of Shaping

Shaping is a psychological method that is often used to promote changes in behavioral patterns. You may also hear it referred to as the method of successive approximations. If either definition leaves you a little confused at its core, shaping is a way to help reinforce desired actions until they become a natural habit. We do it all the time without really thinking about it.

Successive steps in shaping that lead to a final desired behavior:

  • Reinforcement of any action that is related to the target behavior. 
  • Stop reinforcement of the initial behavior level, and begin to focus on activities close to the desired.
  • Continue through more closely related behaviors reinforcing these successive approximations until you get the target behavior.
  • Once the target behavior is achieved, it is the only one rewarded

Research has shown shaping to have impactful results in academic settings, so let’s take a little bit of a deeper look at how parents, administrators, and teachers can apply shaping strategies for student success.

Shaping in Academic Settings

Where shaping in academic settings shines is setting good regular study habits. During the school year, this is relatively easy to keep up with. 

However, the content they worked so hard to incorporate during the school year can slip away during holidays and summer. During breaks, shaping done throughout active classes can help carry students over and keep them from losing valuable progress. 

Some ways to reinforce desired learning habits include: 

  • Praise: Don’t overlook how far a few simple words of praise can go in helping encourage your child or students to engage in work and do so meaningfully.
  • Set Expectations: Layout the ground rules for what you expect academically and the conditions of success and failure in your eyes. Be upfront but fair, and be sure to give periodic reminders. Focus on phrasing what you want the behavior to be instead of the negative. 
  • Track Progress: Academic progress is often measured over long time periods; implement a way to track progress in between any significant goals. Progress can be a running average of their grade or checklists as they complete study sessions.
  • Make it Rewarding: Start by rewarding small advances, then focus more on larger goals. You want to incentivize setting good habits, then help reinforce them once those habits are established. Rewards can include anything from social activities to a game or book they want.

If you can show students that their hard work is paying off, progress, however small, is being made. And if it’s rewarding for students, they will be more engaged in building good habits. The ultimate goal is to set up each student to be able to succeed when they go alone in college and beyond. 

The Academic Approach

Ignite Achievement Academy has a team of expert tutors who are prepared to support your student’s academic needs and help navigate the school year’s challenges. We specialize in working with students in grades K-12 with learning barriers. These barriers often include learning disabilities, language disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression, and more.

Students are given the tools and assistance they need to succeed via kind, organized teaching methods and care for the complete child. At IAA, we offer students the instruction they need to develop the fundamental academic abilities needed to effectively finish their courses, address issues, and fulfill the social and academic expectations of their learning environment.

Teachers and administrators utilize a variety of data and assessment tools and the school-developed academic plan; we are able to customize learning for every student’s academic, social, and environmental needs.

Years of educational research have been used as the foundation for our strategies and methods, which enable maximum student learning. These techniques have also gone through extensive internal testing and are always being upgraded and improved. The end result is an effective educational program where each child is motivated to study and succeed.

If you are interested in becoming part of Ignite Achievement Academy, we would love to talk with you further. Please reach out to us today for more information about enrolling in IAA.