Theorists Who Have Impacted Education

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There have been several theorists who have impacted education. The research they have conducted and the theories they have devised have taken education to a new level. B. F. Skinner emphasized the importance of consequences in learning. He is the best-known learning theorist in the behaviorist tradition. Skinner formulated the basic principle of operant conditioning which is a response that is followed by a reinforcer is strengthened and therefore more likely to occur again. A reinforcer is a stimulus or event that increases the frequency of a response it follows. The principle of operant conditioning is a very useful and powerful explanation of why human beings often act as they do, and its applications to instructional therapeutic situations are almost limitless. In order for operant conditioning to occur the reinforcer must follow the response, should follow immediately, and must be contingent on the response. Reinforcement comes in two different categories primary and secondary and can come in two different forms, positive and negative. Punishment I is when the stimulus is presented. This can be a scolding or a failing grade. Punishment II is when a stimulus is removed, usually an unpleasant one. Some examples of this are loss of privileges or monetary fines. Decreases in behavior occur very quickly because of punishment. Effective forms are verbal reprimands, restitution and overcorrection, positive-practice overcorrection, time-out, in-house suspension, and response cost. In his operant conditioning theory, Skinner said that organisms often learn that a particular response leads to reinforcement only when a certain stimulus is present. This is knows as a discriminative stimulus. Stimulus control is when an organism is more likely to make certain responses in the presence of certain stimuli. This is where his popular formula (s+) R →Srf In the classroom, teachers can provide additional discriminative stimuli that let students know how to behave. This strategy is known as cueing. Skinner paved the way by showing the importance of consequences in learning, since that time, behaviorists have begun to incorporate elements of cognition and motivation into the views of human behavior and learning. Albert Bandura felt that a great deal of human learning involves watching and interacting with other people. Learning by observation and modeling is the focus of social cognitive theory and is based on behaviorist principles, but also includes many cognitivist ideas. According to Bandura, “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” Social cognitive theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences. Bandura states that four processes are necessary in order for someone to model another’s behavior. The first one is that a person must pay attention to the model, especially the important parts. An example of this would be trying to learn how to shoot a basketball. You must look at the model and see how they hold the ball, do they bend their knees, do they jump, when do they release the ball? If a person didn’t pay attention to those details, but instead chose to look at the models hairstyle and clothing, they probably wouldn’t learn how to shoot a basketball. The second example is retention. A person must remember what they have just witnessed. There are different ways to this. They can rehearse what they just saw by repeating it over and over in their minds. They might come up with catchy jingles, make up songs or acronyms that will serve as memory codes for them. The third example is motor reproduction. When learners are able to perform the learned behavior, they are able to get instant feedback about how to improve their performance. The...
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