Definition: An operant learning technique in which a new behavior is produced by reinforcing responses that are similar to the desired response.

Quite Simply...


  • Rewarding behaviors that are similar to the desired one, and slowly moving towards only rewarding the desired behavior itself
  • Setting goals for the behavior of a certain student
  • "Raising the bar"

Examples Of Shaping


  • The gymnastic instructor rewards you with a gold star after you do a cartwheel, after a while the teacher will only give out gold stars for hand stands, then front flips. The teacher raises the bar to show the students that they have improved if they get gold stars.
  • When learning something new, like math, the teachers start out with 1+1=2, and then gradually moves on to harder concepts ;5*5=25, 5^2=25, derivative of 5x^2=10x, and so on,
  • Learning how to play the guitar. First learning one note, then a set of notes, then a song.
  • A trainer at SeaWorld is training a dolphin to hit a football with its nose. Every time the dolphin gets closer to accomplishing this such as at first nudging the ball, it gets rewarded with fish.

See Also...


BF Skinner
Operant conditioning