Notes on Behaviourism

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This is in no way intended to constitute a proper introduction to this school of learning theory, but to accompany a selective discussion in class.It has been annotated so some of it can stand alone

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  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10 This is the kind of objective behaviourists would have for a teaching session Comment on the explicitness of the objectives: active verbs about what you should be able to do : Explicit statements about the level: number of items specified in each objective
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10 This is the kind of objective behaviourists would have for a teaching session Comment on the explicitness of the objectives: active verbs about what you should be able to do : Explicit statements about the level: number of items specified in each objective
  • Behaviourism notes 04/02/10
  • Notes on Behaviourism

    1. 1. Some notes on behaviourism (This is in no way intended to constitute a proper introduction, but to accompany the selective discussion in class.) 3 February 2010 See also www.learningandteaching.info/learning/behaviour.htm and links from there. JSA
    2. 2. Behavioural objectives JSA <ul><li>On completion of this session you should be able to: </li></ul><ul><li>Describe two features which distinguish behaviourism from other approaches to learning </li></ul><ul><li>Name three major figures in the development of behaviourist theory and specify their contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Name the two major strands of behaviourism </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the experimental basis of : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical conditioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operant conditioning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Give two examples of how each can be applied to teaching and learning in education </li></ul><ul><li>Give one example of how the social environment of the classroom may hinder the application of behavioural principles </li></ul>This is how the “instructional designers” (behaviourists allowed out into the real world) tell us we should plan our sessions.
    3. 3. That was a mouthful …why? <ul><li>Behaviourism’s influence on education has been to make all tasks very explicit </li></ul><ul><li>Described in “behavioural outcomes/objectives” which: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are expressed in active verbs describing directly observable behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are pre-determined before you start teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What impact might such a discipline have? </li></ul><ul><li>Think about it for a minute. </li></ul>JSA a.k.a. “SMART” (Look it up)
    4. 4. Behaviourism is (was?) <ul><li>Attempt to put psychology on a scientific footing </li></ul><ul><li>… by rejecting references to mind or mental states </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Or anything which could not be directly observed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To create a science of behaviour </li></ul>JSA Its influence has seriously declined in the past quarter-century with the “cognitive revolution”
    5. 5. Characterised by: <ul><li>Rigorous experimental methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Usually using animals </li></ul><ul><li>but </li></ul><ul><li>In laboratory situations, and </li></ul><ul><li>Na ïve application to human beings </li></ul>JSA
    6. 6. Figures in the history of behaviourism JSA
    7. 7. John Broadus Watson <ul><li>1878-1958 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Founder” of Behavio(u)rism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental emphasis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rejects “mind” </li></ul></ul>JSA
    8. 8. <ul><li>Professor of Psychology at Johns Hopkins University </li></ul><ul><li>Believer in the power of the environment : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Give me a dozen healthy infants ... and my own specified world to bring them up in, and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select — doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and yes, even beggar-man and thief— regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Left university in 1920 after a scandal to sell rubber boots, but became the boss of a powerful advertising agency. </li></ul>JSA He wrote this in 1906, I believe. Behaviourism has often been associated with conservatism and the political right. Not so here. Watson was either very radical, very naive, or very arrogant. Or all three.
    9. 9. Edward Lee Thorndike <ul><li>1874-1949 </li></ul><ul><li>Animal Intelligence (1911) </li></ul><ul><li>Trial and error </li></ul><ul><li>Law of Effect </li></ul><ul><li>Law of Exercise </li></ul>JSA
    10. 10. <ul><li>Law of Effect: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ A response is more or less likely to occur depending on whether it produces a satisfying or annoying state of affairs” (1898) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>and Law of Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning improves with practice </li></ul></ul>JSA He would not have been allowed to get away with this subjective language by later hard-line behaviourists
    11. 11. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov <ul><li>1849-1936 </li></ul><ul><li>Physiologist: Nobel prize 1904 </li></ul><ul><li>Worked on conditioned reflexes from 1897 </li></ul>JSA
    12. 12. Classical Conditioning <ul><li>Unconditioned Stimulus  Unconditioned Response </li></ul><ul><li>Unconditioned Stimulus together with Conditioned Stimulus  Unconditioned Response </li></ul><ul><li>Conditioned Stimulus  Conditioned Response </li></ul>JSA
    13. 13. Burrhus F Skinner <ul><li>1904-1990 </li></ul><ul><li>Most prominent behaviourist </li></ul><ul><li>Operant conditioning </li></ul>JSA Some people call him a “neo-behaviourist”. He does make some allowance for the way the capabilities of the “organism” affect the Stimulus-Response process but as far as he was concerned he was the Real Thing
    14. 14. Operant conditioning <ul><li>Behaviour which is reinforced is more likely to be repeated. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This behaviour can be shaped by progressively more specific reinforcement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reinforcement of desired behaviour is more effective than punishment of undesired behaviour </li></ul></ul>JSA
    15. 15. <ul><li>Lack of reinforcement leads to extinction </li></ul><ul><li>The schedule of reinforcement is complex </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcement depends on the value of the reinforcer to the subject </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcement can be the removal of a noxious stimulus (“negative reinforcement”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li> ” anticipatory-avoidance learning” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Loss of connection between reinforcement and action leads to passivity and fatalism (“learned helplessness”) </li></ul>JSA
    16. 16. Applications <ul><li>Break down learning into behavioural steps </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforce for success </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not punish for lack of success </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish (“stamp in”) each step before proceeding </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually “fade out” reinforcement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As secondary reinforcers take over </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overall process known as Behaviour Modification. </li></ul>JSA
    17. 17. Skinner’s project <ul><li>Teaching machines and instructional technology </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect communities— Walden Two (1948) </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1973) </li></ul>JSA
    18. 18. Critique <ul><li>Limited by self-imposed constraints of diminishing relevance </li></ul><ul><li>Limited applicability in real-world human learning </li></ul><ul><li>Project undermined by “ Cognitive Revolution ” from mid-70s onwards: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding of genetic influences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to trace brain activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chomsky on language </li></ul></ul>JSA
    19. 19. Significant points <ul><li>It works, but it is not the whole story </li></ul><ul><li>It is minute-to-minute stuff </li></ul><ul><li>It is (properly) reflex stuff </li></ul><ul><li>It happens willy-nilly </li></ul>JSA
    20. 20. Did we meet the objectives? <ul><li>On completion of this session you should be able to: </li></ul><ul><li>Describe two features which distinguish behaviourism from other approaches to learning </li></ul><ul><li>Name three major figures in the development of behaviourist theory and specify their contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Name the two major strands of behaviourism </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the experimental basis of : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical conditioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operant conditioning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Give two examples of how each can be applied to teaching and learning in education </li></ul><ul><li>Give one example of how the social environment of the classroom may hinder the application of behavioural principles </li></ul>JSA
    21. 21. I hope not. If we did I have wasted my time and yours. Discuss! JSA

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