• Behaviorism is a theory of learning based uponthe idea that all behaviors are shaped by theinteraction with the environment and aredeveloped through conditioning.• Behaviorism first appeared in the early 20thcentury and was considered a new branch ofpsychology.• As the study of behaviorism grew, applications ofthe field to education became apparent.
• Classical Conditioning• Ivan Pavlov• John B. Watson• Operant conditioning• B.F. Skinner
Classical Conditioning• A process of behaviormodification in which asubject learns to respondin a desired manner suchthat a neutral stimulus isrepeatedly presented inassociation with a stimulusthat causes a naturalresponse until the neutralstimulus alone causes thesame responseOperant Conditioning• A process of behaviormodification in which asubject is encouraged tobehave in a desiredmanner through positive ornegative reinforcement, sothat the subject comes toassociate the pleasure ordispleasure of thereinforcement with thebehavior.
• While studying the digestive functionsin dogs he noted his subjects wouldsalivate before delivery of food.• His research demonstrated techniquesof studying reactions to theenvironment.• He discovered classical conditioningand observed that when paired with anunconditional stimulus, a neutralstimulus can become a conditionedstimulus and produce the sameresponse as the unconditionedstimulus.Ivan Pavlov(1849-1936)Famous for his experiment ondogs
• Known as the father of behaviorism• He believed behaviors can bemeasured, trained and changed.• Watson was interested in takingPavlovs research further to show thatemotional reactions could be classicallyconditioned in people.• They accomplished this by repeatedlypairing the white rat with a loud,frightening clanging noise.Famous for his“Little Albert” ExperimentJohn B.Watson(1878-1958)
• Skinner found that behavior did notdepend on the preceding stimulus asWatson and Pavlov maintained.Instead, Skinner found that behaviorswere dependent upon whathappens after the response.• He believed If the consequenceswere bad, there was a high chancethat the action would not be repeated;however if the consequences weregood, the actions that lead to it wouldbe reinforced.B. F. Skinner(1904-1990)Famous for his research on operantconditioning and negative reinforcement• Punishment- DecreasesBehavior• Reinforcement- IncreasesBehavior
• Students take direction from theteacher and work to master a task.Teacher demonstrates expectedoutcome.• Lesson is reinforced through drillsand repetition (example:flashcardsand worksheets).• Students must show mastery of askill (likely through testing) beforemoving to next unit (example,master a certain AR reading levelbefore moving on to the next level).• Reward is received after mastery ofa skill is proven (ex: bonuscoloring time once math facts aremastered)
• Repetition and drills can be done online, providing instantfeedback (example: IXL math gives instant feedback andreview if answered incorrectly)• Students can utilize software to make electronic flashcardsand test each other (example: Quizlet. Students can workin groups to create Q&A for a segment of the lesson)• Using a software game, students can unlock the next level orreceive “rewards” for mastering a skill.• Memorization takes place in a more engaging format,geared to what this generation has been raised on.
• Under this theory teachers use positive reinforcement toachieve desired skills, be it academic or behavior. This isdone gradually and in small steps.• Example of classroom implementation: Teacher wouldlike to improve student behavior regarding homeworkcompletion rates. Homework is not graded for accuracybut for completion. Each student will receive points forcompletion and the homework will be reviewed in classtogether for accuracy. Students are told some of theinformation will be seen on the upcoming quiz. Thebehavior of completing the homework relevant to the quizis rewarded with points. In turn, this creates knowledgebased level of subject material.
• Sharing of data in the classroom in the form of graphsand spreadsheets regarding study behavior correlationwith grade outcome can create a stimulus as described inSkinner’s theory for motivational study behavior outsideof school.• Integration of educational gaming such as Prentice Hall,funbrain.com utilizes the drill/skill method of teachingvarious skills. Immediate positive feedback is given forcorrect answers.• Interactive response systems such as SMART Responseincorporates all above mentioned concepts.
• Since behaviorism centers on achieving a desiredresponse using positive reinforcement, I think this theoryis naturally used by most teachers. Success in learningis largely linked to student motivation. When a studenthas a “reward” to gain based on maybe a test score orassignment completion, I believe their effort level toachieve that reward will increase. I would definitelyintegrate this approach in my teaching. Learning shouldbe a positive experience and utilizing stimulus/rewardtheories and a great way to achieve desired results.