Behavioral Views on Learning

  1. Prepare four brief paragraphs summarizing the key points about Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism and Humanism, and consider how they might relate to each other.

    Behaviourism; training, guiding, motivating students through implying teaching techniques

    Cognitivism; study of the mind. How you learn, process and retain information, making involuntary associations (not actively learned)

    Constructivism; build new knowledge through previous knowledge, views, beliefs which have been created from social engagement – construct knowledge

    Humanism; working to meet individual needs and understanding students learning; the human element, engaging with emotions and desires to teach them to self regulate, autonomous, and understand why they are doing it.

  1. Behaviourism, Contiguity and Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning (very important)

    (a) What is contiguous learning? What examples can you think of?

    Contiguous learning is learning by association or two or more events due to repeated pairing – stimulus and response. For example, the association between the words ANZAC and Gallipoli.

    (b) Understand the essential elements of classical conditioning. How does this concept relate to classroom practice?

    It is the learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses (unconditioned) – the association of automatic responses to a given stimuli. By associating positive events with learning tasks, such as eating food prepared in home-economics, help students risk anxiety-producing situations voluntarily and successfully when done so in regular small steps.

    (c) Be able to explain the process of classical conditioning.

    Repeated stimuli linked to trained or learned responses (as done with Pavlov’s dog).

  2. Understand the essential elements of operant conditioning.

    It is the learning in which voluntary behaviour (operants) is strengthened or weakened by consequences or antecedents (events that preceed behaviour) done through the use of punishments, rewards, positive and negative.

    (a) Describe the process.

    Wanted behaviour is positively reinforced (addition/or reward), unwanted behaviour is negatively reinforced (subtraction/off test if “sick”). Positive and negative are not referring to the type of behaviour being reinforced, but the way the reinforcement is achieved through addition or subtraction of something which can be bad or good. Good behaviour can be positively reinforced through the giving of a reward, or negatively reinforced by removing additional work the student had been given, whilst bad behaviour can be positively reinforced by giving the student extra work to complete or negatively reinforced by taking away their free time. Punishment can also be used through either type 1 (presentation – detention) or type 2 (removal – TV rights). These are consequences of behaviour. Antecedents occur before the behaviour and will influence the outcome as students understand the consequences.

    (b) Reflect on reinforcement schedules. Consider the important subsets.

    Subsets = a part of a larger group of things.
    Reinforcement, response, intervals and reactions.

    (c) How do the concepts of reinforcement and punishment relate to classroom practice? Prepare a summary of all key points to share and discuss.

  • ability to teach students appropriate behaviours
  • understand how students respond to different stimuli/consequences
  • maintain control of learning environments

    4. Applied Behaviour Analysis (Behaviour Modification)

    (a) Cueing and prompting: Explain and discuss these very important concepts. Give classroom examples where these strategies can prove to be very powerful and effective.

    Cueing is the act of providing an antecedent/stimulus that sets up a desired behaviour before it takes place. For example, a visual or verbal cue may be “working in pairs”.

    is a reminder that follows the cue to make sure a reaction occurs to the cue. For example, a checklist or reminder sheet.

    (b) Reinforcing with teacher attention / praise.

    To be effective, praise must (a) be contingent on behaviour to be reinforced, (b) specify clearly behaviour being reinforced and (c) be honest and believable. REMEMBER: reinforcement always increases target behaviour, positive or negative.

    (c) The “Premack Principle”. Understand the basics and explain.

    It is making privileges and rewards directly contingent on learning and positive behaviour – high frequency behaviour (preferred activity) effective reinforcement for low frequency behaviour (less preferred activity); do what I want you to do, then you may do what you want to do.

    (d) Understand the concept of “Shaping” or “Successive Approximation”.

    Shaping is reinforcing progress (each small step) instead of waiting for perfection to give praise.

    (e) Understand the strategy of “Positive Practice”.

    Positive practice is practicing the correct responses immediately after errors have occured (academic or behavioural)

    5. Review self regulation and behaviour self management.

    Self regulation involves goal setting, monitoring progress and evalutaing progress which teaches students to take charge and understand their own learning and how to keep track of progress. This motivates students to learn for their own reasons and to regulate their self interests.


Readings: Educational Psychology 3rd ed by Anita Woolfolk & Kay Margetts

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