Most theorists agree that learning occurs when experience causes a change in a
person's knowledge or behavior . Behaviorists emphasize the role of environmental
stimuli in learning and focus on the behavior, i.e., an observable response. Behavioral
theories are based on contiguity, classical and operant conditioning, applied behavior
analysis, social learning theory and self-regulation/cognitive behavior modification.
Early views of learning were contiguity and classical conditioning. In contiguity
learning, two events are repeatedly paired together and become associated in the
learner's mind. Pavlov took this idea one step further in his experiments on classical
conditioning where a previously neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with a stimulus that
evokes an emotional or physiological response. Later, the previously neutral stimulus
alone evokes the response. In other words, the conditioned stimulus brings forth the
Operant conditioning is the most applicable of all the behavioral theories to actual
classroom learning. Operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner and states that
people learn through the effects of their deliberate responses. The effects of
consequences following an action may serve as a reinforcement or as a punishment for
that action. Both positive and negative reinforcers strengthen or increase a response.
Punishment decreases or suppresses the behavior. Also, the scheduling of reinforcers
influences the rate and persistence of behaviors. In a paper presented at the Annual
Convention of the American Psychological Association in 1994 the principles of operant
conditioning were evaluated.
This paper discuss...
... middle of paper ...
...ion focused on well-defined, measurable student
performance goals; and 2) frequent monitoring of progress that enables teams to share
concrete insights and adjust processes toward better results. This kind of
student-involved teamwork is more than causal or informal. It is focused and
Critics of behavioral learning note that these methods could have a negative
impact by decreasing interest in learning by overemphasizing the use of rewards. Also,
since the existence of the mind could not be proven from the observation of behavior,
and since behaviorists were concerned primarily with discovering the laws of human
behavior, the mind was an unnecessary construct in the learning process. The exclusion
of the mind from the learning process by behavioral laws was a primary theoretical cause
of the paradigm shift in learning psychology.
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