Classical Conditioning Lesson Plan

Instructor: Joanne Abramson

Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.

Classical conditioning is an essential element of any psychology curriculum. This lesson plan uses two short videos as well as hands-on activities to explain classical condition and compare it to operant conditioning.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'classical conditioning' and 'operant conditioning'
  • identify the unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, neutral stimulus, conditioned stimulus, and conditioned response in classical conditioning
  • identify examples of positive and negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment
  • compare and contrast classical conditioning and operant conditioning


  • 1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Key Terms

  • Classical conditioning
  • Unconditioned stimulus (US)
  • Unconditioned response (UR)
  • Neutral stimulus (NS)
  • Conditioned stimulus (CS)
  • Conditioned response (CR)
  • Generalization
  • Extinction
  • Operant conditioning
  • Reinforcement
  • Punishment


  • Lined paper
  • Pencils
  • Stopwatches

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