Six Theoretical Models of Development and Why They are Important for Understanding the

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Six Theoretical Models of Development and Why They are Important for Understanding the Behavior of Youth There are six major theoretical models used to explain how human development evolves. The Biological Model looks for organic causes to cognitive, learning, and behavioral disorders and uses medication for treatment. The Behavioral Model is observable and measurable. It uses positive reinforcement to obtain desired behavior. The Social Model focuses on modeling and combines behavior and cognitive models to figure out how people learn from their environments. The Ecological Model believes that interactions within the environment and social circles influence behavior and learning process. The Developmental Model looks at development through predetermined developmental stages. The Psychodynamic Model focuses on the unconscious and believes that the environment affects the thought process which develops personality. Each of these theories has strengths and weaknesses when working with students who have special needs. Biological and Behavioral Models

The Biological Model along with the Behavioral Model has gained the most support out of the five models because they can be validated (GCU, 2010). Both of these models use methods that are observable and measurable therefore identifying causes and effects of behavior. The Biological Model looks for organic causes such as pathogens that cause disease; neurological, neurobiological, neurochemical, chromosomal, gene, and congenital abnormalities; and brain damage as factors for causing behavioral, cognitive, and learning disorders (Wheeler & Dean, 2010 p. 4-6). Medication is used to treat the disorders found.

The Behavioral Model focuses on consequences of actions. This model studies the interactions of the environment with the outcome of behavior. A person is more likely to repeat actions that obtain positive consequence or reinforcement while they are more likely not to produce as many actions that produce negative consequences or punishment. The Behavioral Model is adaptive rather than reflective so the focus is on reinforcing desired behavior instead of discernment as to why the behavior is occurring which has been shown to be beneficial for students with developmental disabilities. Students with developmental disabilities learn which behaviors produce reinforcement in the environment that they are in which leads to development of positive habit forming procedures. However, there are shortfalls in both of these models. The Biological Model labels a person with a disability. While labeling can be beneficial in seeking out the right treatment it can also lead to a person not working to his or her full potential and blame their lack of progress on their disorder. Another shortfall is that medication alone does not always solve the issue. There may be other causes and factors that the medication cannot control, the medication may have no effect on certain people or they may be misdiagnosed, and what will happen once medication is withdrawn needs to be taken into consideration. That is why this model is best used in conjunction with the Behavioral Model so that positive reinforcement for acceptable behavior can be taught so that a person is able to cope without 100 percent dependency on medication since medication is not completely dependable and has side effects. The Behavioral Model is lacking in that it looks only at the present and does not consider past experiences as a direct response for the present behavior. However, Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS), a spin-off of the Behavioral Model, has been gaining in popularity because it takes into consideration aspects from the Social and Ecological Models. PBS is student centered, uses positive reinforcement for acceptable behavior instead of waiting to punish unacceptable behavior, and works to better the quality of life for the student by involving the parent or legal guardian. Social and...
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