Behaviourism theory in teaching and learning

Methodological behaviorism began as a reaction against the introspective psychology that dominated the lateth and earlyth centuries. Introspective psychologists such as Wilhelm Wundt maintained that the study of consciousness was the primary object of psychology. Their methodology was primarily introspective, relying heavily on first-person reports of sensations and the constituents of immediate experiences.

Behaviorists such as J. Watson and B.

behaviourism theory in teaching and learning

Skinner rejected introspectionist methods as being subjective and unquantifiable. Instead, they focused on objectively observable, quantifiable events and behavior. They argued that since it is not possible to observe objectively or to quantify what occurs in the mind, scientific theories should take into account only observable indicators such as stimulus-response sequences.

The quickest way to do this is to … consider only those facts which can be objectively observed in the behavior of one person in its relation to his [or her] prior environmental history. Behaviorists such as Watson and Skinner construe knowledge as a repertoire of behaviors. It is a set of passive, largely mechanical responses to environmental stimuli. So, for instance, the behaviorist would argue that to say that that someone knows Shakespeare is to say that they have a certain behavioral repertoire with respect to Shakespeare Knowledge that is not actively expressed in behavior can be explained as behavioral capacities.

If knowledge is construed as a repertoire of behaviors, someone can be said to understand something if they possess the appropriate repertoire. No mention of cognitive processes is necessary — From a behaviorist perspective, the transmission of information from teacher to learner is essentially the transmission of the response appropriate to a certain stimulus. Thus, the point of education is to present the student with the appropriate repertoire of behavioral responses to specific stimuli and to reinforce those responses through an effective reinforcement schedule An effective reinforcement schedule requires consistent repetition of the material; small, progressive sequences of tasks; and continuous positive reinforcement.

Without positive reinforcement, learned responses will quickly become extinct. This is because learners will continue to modify their behavior until they receive some positive reinforcement. Behaviorists explain motivation in terms of schedules of positive and negative reinforcement.

Just as receiving food pellets each time it pecks at a button teaches a pigeon to peck the button, pleasant experiences cause human learners to make the desired connections between specific stimuli and the appropriate responses. For example, a student who receives verbal praise and good grades for correct answers positive reinforcement is likely to learn those answers effectively; one who receives little or no positive feedback for the same answers negative reinforcement is less likely to learn them as effectively.

Likewise, human learners tend to avoid responses that are associated with punishment or unpleasant consequences such as poor grades or adverse feedback. Other methods include question stimulus and answer response frameworks in which questions are of gradually increasing difficulty; guided practice; and regular reviews of material.

Behaviorist methods also typically rely heavily on the use of positive reinforcements such as verbal praise, good grades, and prizes. Behaviorists assess the degree of learning using methods that measure observable behavior such as exam performance. For example, while behaviorist methods have proven to be successful in teaching structured material such as facts and formulae, scientific concepts, and foreign language vocabulary, their efficacy in teaching comprehension, composition, and analytical abilities is questionable.Effective teaching starts with effective classroom management.

In order to ensure meeting target goalsteachers should apply the most appropriate approach in motivating interest, managing behavior, and keeping order in the classroom. Behaviorists offer a classroom management style that ensures meeting these objectives, while preparing students to overcome future challenges at the same time. Hire a subject expert to help you with Application of behaviorism in Education. Behaviorist approaches to learning originate from the minds of John B.

Watson and B. Applying these in the classroom, a teacher may find it easier to understand enormity of student behavior, and encourage them to perform to the best of their abilities. The environment of a child serves as a crucial factor in developing interest towards study. It includes both physical and non-physical aspects. The physical aspect requires order and creativity, while the non-physical emphasizes developing positive behavior and interest.

An organized learning environment contributes to easy learning, and conditions students to perform at their best.

behaviourism theory in teaching and learning

Considering this, the physical environment of the classroom should be well-organized and free from obstruction to allow organized flow of the learning process. In an ideal classroom, all things should have their proper places.

For example, books, coloring materials, chartsetc. This way, students can move with ease inside the classroom, and would know how to organize things themselves when at home or other places. Likewise, a well-organized classroom provides a comfortable space conducive to learning. The same concept is used with punishments. The teacher can take away certain privileges if the student misbehaves.

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To maintain orderliness, learning materials should be neatly arranged in cabinets, shelves, etc. During time of use, not all students should be allowed access; instead, there should be assigned leaders or representatives to obtain the materials. Training students in an orderly manner will teach them to be orderly in the same way.

Bulletin boards should contain displays relevant to the present topics for instruction. In classical conditioning, you start with an automatic reflex.

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For Pavlov, this was his dogs salivating when they tasted food. Then you pair that with a meaningless stimulus. Pavlov used a bell in one of his conditions. So every time dogs got the food, they also heard a bell. Over time, the dogs anticipated the food and started salivating to a delicious sounding bell. This happens all the time in your life, too. Marketers love classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is fairly limited when it comes to shaping behavior, primarily because an automatic response must already exist.Every teacher knows that they will usually have a student in class who is difficult to manage and work with.

Their behavior is usually hard to control and it can be extra work to get them to pay attention and stop distracting others.

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Behaviorism or the behavioral learning theory is a popular concept that focuses on how students learn. Behaviorism focuses on the idea that all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment. This learning theory states that behaviors are learned from the environment, and says that innate or inherited factors have very little influence on behavior.

A common example of behaviorism is positive reinforcement. In the future, students work hard and study for their test in order to get the reward. Behaviorism is key for educators because it impacts how students react and behave in the classroom, and suggests that teachers can directly influence how their students behave.

Behaviorism started as a reaction against introspective psychology in the 19th century, which relied heavily on first-person accounts. Watson and B. Skinner rejected introspective methods as being subjective and unquantifiable. These psychologists wanted to focus on observable, quantifiable events and behaviors. They said that science should take into account only observable indicators.

Watson and Skinner believed that if they were given a group of infants, the way they were raised and the environment they put them in would be the ultimate determining factor for how they acted, not their parents or their genetics. A group of dogs would hear a bell ring and then they would be given food.

After enough time, when the bell would ring the dogs would salivate, expecting the food before they even saw it. This is exactly what behaviorism argues—that the things we experience and our environment are the drivers of how we act. The stimulus-response sequence is a key element of understanding behaviorism.

behaviourism theory in teaching and learning

A stimulus is given, for example a bell rings, and the response is what happens next, a dog salivates or a pellet of food is given. Behavioral learning theory argues that even complex actions can be broken down into the stimulus-response.

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In the classroom, the behavioral learning theory is key in understanding how to motivate and help students. Information is transferred from teachers to learners from a response to the right stimulus. Students are a passive participant in behavioral learning—teachers are giving them the information as an element of stimulus-response. Teachers use behaviorism to show students how they should react and respond to certain stimuli.

This needs to be done in a repetitive way, to regularly remind students what behavior a teacher is looking for.Behaviorism is a learning theory that only focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts any independent activities of the mind. Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior based on environmental conditions.

Experiments by behaviorists identify conditioning as a universal learning process. There are two different types of conditioning, each yielding a different behavioral pattern:. This theory is relatively simple to understand because it relies only on observable behavior and describes several universal laws of behavior. Its positive and negative reinforcement techniques can be very effective— such as in treatments for human disorders including autism, anxiety disorders and antisocial behavior.

Behaviorism is often used by teachers who reward or punish student behaviors. Behaviorism is often seen in contrast to constructivism. Constructivists are more likely to allow for experimentation and exploration in the classroom and place a greater emphasis on the experience of the learner. In contrast to behaviorists, they feel that an understanding of the brain informs teaching.

Soltis, Perspectives on LearningChapter 3. Teachers College Press. Learning Styles Read More. Lynn — I assume you are looking for an author, and a date? The content was created by On Purpose, and then edited by a team.

Behaviorism in the Classroom

I hope that helps. Research has shown that animals adapt their reinforced patterns to new information. For instance, a rat can shift its behavior to respond to changes in the layout of a maze it had previously mastered through reinforcements.

Application of behaviorism in Education

DF — good question. That line is confusing. The reason is that you might not want the pattern to change based on the new information. In other words, this approach some critics claim might lose effectiveness over time.

Hope that helps.In the behaviorist learning theory, the idea is to create specific behaviors through rewards for wanted behaviors and consequences for unwanted behaviors.

When it is applied to a classroom setting, it becomes a method of operant conditioning. It is used to not to help children understand the benefits of following the rules through a logical debate, but through the use of positive and negative reinforcement. With the behaviorist learning theory in the classroom, there are four basic types of reinforcement that can be used. Each reinforcement opportunity has specific benefits and disadvantages that must be considered before it is implemented in a classroom setting.

Pros It offers an immediate reinforcement of a wanted behavior. Specific statements of praise help to reinforce the compliment being offered. Some students may hear this consequence and not want to have it themselves, which will modify their behavior.

It can create immediate change within a student who is motivated by rewards. Cons Some students are not motivated by a negative reinforcement either. Pros It impacts the entire classroom. It can address a specific and potentially dangerous unwanted behavior immediately.

Cons It causes the student being used as a presentation to be targeted by other students. They may make fun of that student or not want to be associated with them. Some students are sensitive and may resent being used as an example toward other students, which increases the number and the aggressiveness of their unwanted individuals. Pros It is a way to meet the needs of a specific student without disrupting the entire class. It may remove an unwanted behavior from the classroom immediately.

Removal minimizes impact while allowing learning progression. Cons It may encourage a student to continue offering unwanted behaviors so they can get their way.


Teachers should be using all of these options when appropriate to address wanted and unwanted behaviors in the classroom. The goal should always be to avoid an unpleasant consequence, but sometimes a punishment is necessary to remove an unwanted behavior. Teachers should never belittle a student. They should always be looking for a way to generate a positive outcome.

And behaviorist learning theory in the classroom works best when an individualized approach is taken. By finding the middle ground, the classroom can really become a good learning environment.

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Positive Reinforcement.You can find countless ways to apply behaviorism theory in the classroom to elicit and maintain desired student behavior. Examples of behavior modification techniques include praise, reward systems, continual feedback, positive reinforcement and non-punitive discipline. Behaviorism is no less relevant today than when introduced to schools in the s by B.

According to Skinner, behavior is a learned response reinforced by the consequences resulting from that behavior. For instance, if students are rewarded for doing extra work, they're more likely to repeat that behavior. The Office for Teaching and Learning and Wayne State University suggest that using weighted grades for homework assignments, exams and class participation is an effective application of behaviorism.

If you assign more points for some activities than others, students are reinforced for putting their efforts into the correct priorities. For example, students would know that you consider it more important to do well on a group project worth 40 percent of their grade than on quizzes worth 10 percent of their grade. Students who budget their time accordingly would likely attain a higher grade.

You may want to implement a behaviorism strategy called a token economy. Students are told how to earn a token, such as listening, staying on task and raising their hand. Depending on the child's age, tokens can be stars, stickers or a a punch card. When tokens accumulate, students may exchange tokens for a reward that the student chooses.

How to Use Behaviorism in a Classroom

For instance, a token economy reportedly improved school climate at Stanfield Elementary in Oregon. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center notes that the token system can also be effective with students with autism spectrum disorder. You may find it helpful to collaborate with other teachers interested in using behaviorism to improve student performance and behavior.

Many schools rely on a behavioral framework known as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports to shape behavior in classrooms and extracurricular activities. Teachers target up to five behaviors to reinforce throughout the curriculum. A PBIS approach emphasizes positive reinforcement rather than harsh discipline, such as out-of-school suspension, which is strongly discouraged by the U.

Department of Education. Key components of PBIS include clear communication of rules, regular routines, consistent reinforcement of targeted behaviors, social skills training and natural consequences, such as temporary loss of privileges.

You can use behaviorism to increase learning and decrease distracting student behavior. When writing lesson plans, identify what knowledge and skills you want students to master. Determine how you'll objectively evaluate performance. Develop a system for tracking student progress, and intervene if problems arise.

Communicate to students your academic and behavioral expectations. Use exams and grades to encourage students to do their best work. For instance, if you suspect students aren't completing assigned readings, you could start giving quizzes to motivate students and reward those who work hard.

To control disruptive behavior that can affect teaching and learning, praise positive behavior, ignore mildly irritating behavior and consistently enforce consequences for breaking rules. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center.

She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.

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