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BEHAVIORIST VIEWS OF LEARNING

Instructional Objectives:
1. 2. Describe the assumptions underlying behaviorism and their implications for classroom practice. Distinguish between classical conditioning and operant conditioning, and use each of these learning theories to explain how a variety of responses may be learned in the classroom. Compare positive and negative reinforcement, and list numerous forms that reinforcement might take in a classroom setting. Devise strategies for improving the classroom behavior and academic performance of chronically off-task or misbehaving children. Use behaviorist principles to explain the diversity that teachers are likely to see in children s behaviors. Describe both strengths and limitations of behaviorist approaches.

3. 4. 5. 6.

Definition
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.

Basic Assumption
1. Behavior is the result of experiences with environment stimuli- conditioning 2. Learning involves behavior change 3. Learning involves among stimuli-responses 4. Learning occurs when stimuli and responses occur together in time. 5. Most species learn in similar manner

How behaviorism impacts learning?


This theory is very simple to understand because it relies only on observable behavior and describes several laws of behavior. Its positivenegative reinforcement techniques can be very effective such as in treatment for human disorder like autism, antisocial behavior and anxiety disorder. Behaviorism is often used by teacher who reward or punish student s behavior.

Classical conditioning
occurs when a natural reflex responds to a stimulus. We are biologically wired so that a certain stimulus will produce a specific response. One of the more common examples of classical conditioning in the educational environment is in situations where students exhibit irrational fears and anxieties like fear of failure, fear of public speaking and general school phobia.

Q1.What behaviors are classically conditioned?


Behaviors that are classically conditioned are those which involve the learning of involuntary responses -- responses over which the learner has no control and to which he or she responds reflexively or "automatically." Thus, examples include a dog salivating at the sound of the dinner bell.

Q2.How do you increase behavior through classical conditioning?


In classical conditioning, behaviors are increased in one of two ways: 1. repeated practice and positive reinforcement: more pairings (of neutral stimuli with unconditioned stimuli), which can include drill-and-practice (i.e., additional training) but also includes rewarding the desired behavior, positive reinforcement (e.g., trying to build an association between desired behavior and pleasure of the reward) 2. stronger reinforcement: stronger unconditioned stimuli (i.e., traumatic events) produce stronger conditioning

Q3.How do you decrease behavior through classical conditioning?


There are several ways to change inappropriate conditioned responses: Extinguishing: stop pairing the response with the stimulus in order to extinguish the linkage(this is the mildest method, and least reliable because of speed, avoidance, and spontaneous recovery) - Examples: teacher ignoring student's disruptive behavior in order not to give her attention.

Exhaustion: keep repeating the stimulus until the individual is too tired to respond in the habitual way; the intent is to get the response to the stimulus to become "doing nothing" or "not responding" to the stimulus

Examples: a teacher making a kid being punished for throwing spitballs (S) stay after school and throw spitballs (R) until the kid can't throw anymore (CR). (R= responses, S= stimulus, CR= conditioned responses)

Q4:What role does classical conditioning play in educational settings?


The most common examples of classical conditioning seen in the educational environment are in situations where students exhibit phobias and anxieties, like "math anxiety," fear of failure, and general school phobia. It is not easy (but it's important!) for teachers to try to create a consistent, positive classroom climate where students experience more success than failure.

Q5:What roles do stimulus generalization and discrimination play in classical conditioning?


The effect of stimulus generalization is to transfer or "spread" the conditioned response to new stimuli. For example, a person frightened of the sight of blood might generalize that response to include a variety of other blood-red objects. The effect of stimulus discrimination is just the opposite -- to degeneralize the stimulus, so that the individual learns to respond to one stimulus but learns not to respond to a somewhat similar stimulus. For example, Pavlov's dogs could be trained to differentiate their response to two bell tones -- the higher pitched tone being associated with the arrival of food (thus: salivation) and the lower tone not associated with food.

Operant/ Instrumental conditioning


occurs when a response to a stimulus is reinforced. Basically, operant conditioning is a simple feedback system: If a reward or reinforcement follows the response to a stimulus, then the response becomes more probable in the future. For example, leading behaviorist B.F. Skinner used reinforcement techniques to teach pigeons to dance and bowl a ball in a mini-alley.

Q1.What behaviors are operantly conditioned?


Behaviors that are operantly conditioned are those that have been reinforced. These are generally volitional behaviors (whereas the classical conditioned response is typically involuntary). Skinner's basic principle of operant conditioning is: "A response followed by a reinforcer is strengthened and is therefore more likely to occur again."

Q2.How do you increase behavior through operant conditioning?


You reinforce it. There are 3 important conditions: 1. The reinforcer must follow the response. 2. The reinforcer must follow immediately. 3. The reinforcer must be contingent on the response. Timing, magnitude, and consistency of reinforcement all can affect the rate at which new behaviors are learned.

Q3.How do you decrease behavior through operant conditioning?


Three methods: 1. differential reinforcement of other behaviors is a procedure whereby an organism is reinforced for not exhibiting a particular behavior during a specified time interval reinforcing incompatible responses {not as widely followed these days?} (e.g., teacher praises a student who manages to get through recess without fighting) reinforcing incompatible behaviors -- reinforcement of a behavior incompatible with the undesired response (e.g., putting the school litterbug in charge of the campus cleanup campaign and giving him positive reinforcement for his role) punishment -- (1) presentation of an aversive stimulus (e.g., spanking) and (2) removal of a pleasant stimulus (e.g., not being allowed to watch TV). There is a lot of argument about whether punishment works or not. Punishment only suppresses the undesired behavior, so it's best coupled with an alternative positive behavior which you hope will replace the undesired behavior.

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Q4. What roles do stimulus generalization and discrimination play in operant conditioning?
These roles are primarily related to antecedent stimuli. When an organism has learned to respond in a certain way in the presence of one stimulus, it is likely to respond in the same way in the presence of similar stimuli(stimulus generalization). Teachers can encourage good behavior, reminding students by means of cueing (providing additional discriminative stimuli to let students know how to behave, like saying, on the way to the lunchroom, "Walk quietly and in single file.") or by setting events (complex environmental conditions under which certain behaviors are most likely to occur). However, if a particular response has been reinforced in the presence of one stimulus, but not in the presence of another, the organism will most likely exhibit the response only when the former stimulus is presented (stimulus discrimination).

Q5.What types of instructional methods are based on operant conditioning?


Five educational innovations can be attributed either directly or indirectly to operant conditioning principles: 1. instructional objectives 2. programmed instruction and its offshoot, computer-assisted instruction 3. mastery learning 4. contingency contracts 5. applied behavior analysis

Q6:How would you design a program of instruction to work on operant conditioned responses?
Start with clearly stated objectives so that instructional (and/or behavioral) goals are clear to the learner. If appropriate, briefly describe the benefit to the learner of the learning being taught. Use the "mastery learning" approach in chunking material to be taught. Provide for students' active response to instruction, with reinforcement or feedback as immediate as possible. Punishment should be used sparingly, but should be immediate and appropriate to the misbehavior.

Mastery checkpoints should be provided at appropriate intervals so students can measure their progress and accomplishment. Sincere praise and appropriate reinforcement should be included along the way. At the end of the program, there should be closure and appropriate appraisal of progress. "Operant" instruction is designed not only to teach the student one particular subject matter, but also to reward and encourage internalization of good study habits.

POSITIVE vs NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: Positive reinforcement is a very powerful and effective tool to help shape and change behaviour. Positive reinforcement works by presenting a motivating item to the person after the desired behaviour is exhibited, making the behaviour more likely to happen in the future.

NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT: Negative reinforcement is when a certain stimulus/item is removed after a particular behaviour is exhibited. The likelihood of the particular behaviour occurring again in the future is increased because of removing/avoiding the negative stimuli. Negative reinforcement should not be thought of as a punishment procedure. With negative reinforcement, you are increasing a behaviour, whereas with punishment, you are decreasing a behavior.

Forms of reinforcement
Intrinsic reinforcement Intrinsic reinforcement is reinforcement that is done internally. In other words it is something we do to ourselves, although this may be done with external stimulus, such as thanks or smiles. Extrinsic reinforcement Extrinsic reinforcement is reinforcement from without, clearly outside of our internal thinking. Classic examples of extrinsic reinforcements are money and physical punishment. Primary reinforcement Primary reinforcement has a clear causal connection between behaviour and reinforcement, for example where complying with a simple request results in the reinforcement of thanks. Secondary reinforcement Secondary reinforcement is less clear and is learned only through experience or musing. Thus, for example, a person who cooks a friend a particular meal discovers after doing this several times that it seems to make the other person somewhat friendlier.

Positive reinforcement Positive reinforcement is where something pleasant happens after a behaviour. As a result, the behaviour increases. - You hand me the salt and I say thank you. Next time you might offer me the salt without being asked. I will still smile and thank you, so you keep offering me the salt. Negative reinforcement Negative reinforcement occurs when something that is not liked does not happen when a behaviour occurs. As a result, the behaviour increases. - You do not hand me the salt. I stare at you. When you hand me the salt, I do not stare at you. Next time, you hand me the salt to avoid the nasty stare.

Example A child nags a busy mother until it gets attention. The mother frequently response angrily. For the child this is not the perfect response but it is better than nothing, so it continues to nag. The mother has thus reinforced the nagging behaviour. When food is shown, but not given to a dog it performs a range of tricks it has been taught by being given food. When it begs, it is given the food. When it is shown food in the future, it is more likely to try begging first. A schoolteacher does not allow her pupils out to play until they are quiet (negative reinforcement).

Punishment
Whilst reward and punishment are both forms of reinforcement, they are different in effect especially with humans who respond variably, particularly to punishment. Punishment is not negative reinforcement and is less effective. Punishment happens after a behaviour that is not desirable. In negative reinforcement, discomfort is delivered when a desired behaviour does not happen.

Q1: August 2010 Answer:

Q2: August 2010