The behaviourist theory of learning


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This presentation on the behaviourist theory of learning was produced as part of the DTLLS course.

The behaviourist theory of learning

  1. 1. John W Gardner (1912 – 2002)“We think of the mind as a storehouse to befilled when we should be thinking of it as aninstrument to be used.”
  2. 2. What is the Behaviourist Theory?Learning is nothing more than theacquisition of new behaviour based onenvironmental conditions – linking a newbehaviour to a stimulus by providingreinforcement after the correct behaviour isproduced.
  3. 3. The Theorists Pavlov (1849 – 1936) Skinner (1904 – 1990) Watson (1878 – 1958)
  4. 4. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov Russian scientist Nobel prize winner in 1904 Famous for “Pavlov’s dogs”
  5. 5. Pavlov’s Dogs N54ho
  6. 6. Pavlov’s Theory“Events that previously had no relation to agiven reflex could, through experience,trigger a reflex.”Fredholm, L. (2001). Pavlov’s Dog.<>[accessed 29th March 2011]
  7. 7. Burrhus Frederic Skinner American Psychologist Author Famous for “Skinner box”
  8. 8. Skinner’s Box &feature=related
  9. 9. Skinner’s Theory“Changes in behaviour are the result of anindividuals response to events”Kearsley, G. (2011), Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into PracticeDatabase. <> [accessed 29th March 2011]
  10. 10. John Broadus Watson American Psychologist Coined the term "Behaviourism" in 1913 Famous for Little Albert experiments
  11. 11. Little Albert OrPQE&feature=related
  12. 12. Watson’s Theory“only observable events, and not mentalstates, are the substance of psychology”Epstein, R. (1987), John B Watson. <>[accessed 29th March 2011]
  13. 13. Advantages of Behaviourism Easily controlled by teacher Some learners benefit from repetition Rewards and punishments are clear Ease of motivation
  14. 14. Disadvantages of Behaviourism Ignores thought processes and emotions Repetition may become boring Totally teacher orientated Little or no input from learners