Essay on Behavioral Learning

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From the beginning teacher believed that the best way to learn was through repetition, a principle from behavioral learning theory that dominated educational thinking since the time of Ivan Pavlov and his experiment with animals. Students would spend their time copying spelling words, historical information, and mathematical formulas over and over again until they “learned” the information. The Behavioral perspective views the environment as key to learning. Environments factors are seen in terms of stimuli and its resulting behavior or response. The attempt to demonstrate that behavior is controlled by environmental contingencies of external reward or reinforcement which links the stimuli and response. Teachers who accept the Behavioral perspective assume that the behavior is learned. For example, classroom troublemakers “learn” to be disruptive because they seek attention (reinforcement) from their teachers and peers. Withdrawn students learn that their particular environment does not reinforce social interaction; they become reserved and silent. As a result, any behavior can (and should) be analyzed in terms of its reinforcement history. The next logical step for the teacher is to learn the Behavioral processes to change or modify undesirable behavior in their students. I have noticed from my time subbing that positive behavior is dependent on the rewards. Teachers have trained their students to behave on a color scale. For example, good is green light, warning is a yellow light, and bad is red light. Students learn how far they can toe the line solely dependent on the color scale. Students also know that if they respond in the manner the teacher required they get some type of reward. For example, banana bucks for treasure box at the end of the week for team points that require each team to work together in earring points for a class party.

As a principal I would like teachers to move towards a more cognitive and constructivism perceptive. I would like to...
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