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Using Behavioral Learning Theory to Create a Learning Environment

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  • 0:04 Behavioral Learning Theory
  • 1:31 The Teacher's Role
  • 4:43 Behaviorist Model's Focus
  • 5:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

According to behavioral learning theory, results are what matter: good grades, good behavior and good test scores. Anything that produces positive results is a good approach. In this lesson, we explore the behaviorist learning environment.

Behavioral Learning Theory

Mrs. Pierce practices behavioral learning theory in her classroom. She doesn't put a lot of emphasis on how students feel about her teaching, but she she cares a lot about the results of her teaching. Are the students getting the right answers? Are they behaving in class? Are they getting good grades? To this teacher, behavioral results mean everything.

Behavioral learning theory is concerned with observable results. It does not take into account student thoughts or feelings. Instead, it relies on stimuli, things that provoke reactions, and responses, the reaction to stimuli. Behavioral learning theory assumes that if students are given the right stimulus, then the students will give you the response you want. The approach is simple.

1. Present the desired behavior or response.

Examples of this might include a method for solving a problem or the proper way to sit in a chair.

2. Reinforce the behavior or response.

Reinforcement is the consequence of a behavior that either encourages or discourages that particular behavior. Every time the student performs the desired behavior, the teacher should positively reinforce the behavior by rewarding the student. Conversely, a teacher may reinforce undesirable behaviors by punishing the student.

3. Provide new goals.

A teacher should create incremental growth by constantly setting new behavioral goals and then continuing to reward the appropriate behaviors.

4. Be consistent.

Teachers should provide positive reinforcement every time the students exhibit desired behavior.

The Teacher's Role

A teacher in a behavior-based classroom presents the appropriate behavioral response that is desired from a student. The teacher provides reinforcement for behaviors. When the students respond to stimuli in the way the teacher desires them to, the teacher will provide a reward. This teacher is not as concerned with how the students feel and more concerned with what they do in response to stimuli.

Let's look at an example where you are the teacher. You walk into your classroom on a bright Monday morning after the bell has rung. You notice that many of the students are moving around and causing minor disruptions. However, two young ladies, Susan and Sharon, are sitting where they're supposed to be sitting and doing what they're supposed to be doing.

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