Published on February 4, 2014
Behaviorism a learning theory overview Angela Sisson / ITD 546
Behaviorism: nutshell explanation learning = a straightforward process of response to stimuli reward or reinforcement is believed to strengthen the response and therefore result in changes in behavior – the test, according to this school of thought, is as to whether learning had occurred -- Learning Theories Wikibook (2011)
Behaviorism: a brief background* • Throughout most of the 1960s, instructional research continued to be based on behaviorist learning models and theories • Empirical studies sought to determine the most effective means of implementing a stimulus-responsereinforcement model (i.e., operant model) to insure that the prescribed learning outcomes would be achieved • A major goal of instructional research centered on methods of task analysis and the development of behavioral objectives for learning * Brief background material from Tennyson (2010)
Behaviorism: a breakdown* 1. How does learning occur? 2. Which factors influence learning? 3. What is the role of memory? 4. How does transfer occur? 5. What types of learning are best explained by the theory? * Breakdown identified by Schunk (1991) as quoted in Ertmer and Newby (1993).
How does learning occur?* • Learning is observable when either form or frequency of a behavior/performance changes • Accomplishment of desired learning is associated with observation of a proper/desired response related to specific stimulus * Summary from Ertmer and Newby (1993)
Which factors influence learning?* • Learner and environment variables are each important • Environment is the most significant factor * Summary from Ertmer and Newby (1993)
What is the role of memory?* • Memory is not a prominent component in Behaviorist theory • “Forgetting” is merely associated with non-use/lack of reinforcement * Summary from Ertmer and Newby (1993)
How does transfer occur?* • In the Behaviorist view, transfer results from generalization • Essentially, common/similar situations set up the opportunity to transfer learned behaviors based on common elements * Summary from Ertmer and Newby (1993)
What types of learning are best explained by behaviorism?* • Typically, Behaviorist approaches work best to facilitate learning that includes – discriminations (recalling facts); – generalizations (defining and illustrating concepts); – associations (applying explanations); and, – chaining (automatically performing a specified procedure) * Summary from Ertmer and Newby (1993)
Behaviorism: real world examples • My dog is ready to come in from the cold, so she barks: I am conditioned to respond by bringing her inside (her bark is a stimulus/trigger) • My cat thinks her bowl is low on food, so she meows and leads me to it: I am conditioned to respond by putting food in the bowl (her communication is a stimulus/trigger) • I want peace and quiet, so noise triggers a response in me to find a different venue!
references • Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71. • Learning Theories Wikibook. (2011). Chapter 1: Behaviorism. Full text. Retrieved from Wikibooks. • Schunk, D.H. (1991). Learning theories: An educational perspective. New York: Macmillan. • Tennyson, R.D. (2010). Historical reflection on learning theories and instructional design. Contemporary Educational Technology,1(1), 1-16. Copyright 2014 - Angela Sisson
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