In this Chapter we will look at
* Educational Implications
How one behaves is the first and a primary psychological
perspective to indicate how human beings learn.
Early on, the two dominant perspectives utilized in studying how learning takes
place were structuralism and functionalism. Both liked a precise, carefully defined research methodology.
The primary means of investigating learning especially for the Structuralist, was a method called introspection: People were simply asked to look inside
their minds and describe what they were thinking.
Later the Russian psychologist
Ivan Pavlov and the American psychologist
Edward Thorndike designed a more objective
approach to the study of learning . one that focused on observable events
rather than non-observable mental events.
These researchers looked primarily at behavior.. something that they could
easily see and objectively describe. Consequently, the behaviorist movement was
Not all Behaviorists agree on the specific process that account for learning,
yet, most have certain basic assumptions: These assumptions are
Certain Principles of learning apply equally to different behaviors and to different species of animals. (Regardless
of Human or Animal: administering
Rewards increase the likelihood that a behavior will be learned)
Behaviorists assume that human beings and animals learn in similar ways..an
assumption known as equipotentiality.
Learning processes can be studied most objectively when the focus of study is on stimuli
By focusing on these two phenomena psychologists can objectively observe and
measure what happens when a stimuli is inserted into the environment, and what
response the organism makes to the stimuli.
Internal Cognitive processes are largely excluded from scientific study.
Many behaviorists believe that because we cannot directly observe and measure
internal mental processes (thought, motives, emotion) we should exclude such processes from our explanations of how learning
Learning involves a behavior change.
Some behaviorists suggest that if no behavior change occurs, then learning
cannot possible be taking place.
Organisms are born as blank slates.
Except for instinct (birds build nests, baby nurse, human blink their eyes)
we are born without any predisposition to behave in any particular way.
Learning is largely the result of environmental events.
An organism is conditioned by environmental events. Many behaviorists believe that learning is the results of our experiences.
Not all behaviorists would agree with all the assumptions listed above. For instance, some theorists disagree with the black box assumption, and rather, believe
that internal factors. those occurrences within the organism are just as important when it come to human learning. Such neo-behaviorist theorists are sometimes called S-O-R (stimulus-organism-response) theorists rather than S-R (stimulus-Response)
The most useful theories tend to be parsimonious ones.
According to behaviorists, we should explain the learning of behavior from
the simplest to the most complex, by as few learning principles as possible. This
assumption reflects a preference for parsimony (conciseness).
THEORIST IN THE BEHAVIORIST TRADITION
Numerous theorists contributed to the rise of behaviorism during the decades
of the twentieth century. The contributions of six are briefly described below:
Ivan Pavlov.Best known for his
classical conditioning theory. Remember how the Dog learn to salivate not only to food but also to other environmental
events that it associated with food. For example, the laboratory assistant who
often delivered the dogs food. The dog even begin to associate the footsteps
coming toward his cage with food thus begin to salivate. (Pavlov, 1927).
Edward Thorndike. Introduced connectionism (A theory that emphasized the role of experience in strengthening and weakening of stimulus response. An example is the Cat In a Box: Thru trial and error, a cat learns to tap a device that allows it to escape from the box. Consequently, in relation to connectionism Thorndike put forth the concepts:
Law of effect: Responses to situations that are followed
by satisfaction are strengthen
Responses that are followed by discomfort are weakened
Law of exercise: Stimulus-Response that are repeated are strengthen
Stimulus-Response that are not used are weakened
John B. Watson.Although Pavlov
and Thorndike are considered to be among the earliest contributors to the behaviorist tradition, it was John Watson, who actually
introduced the term behaviorism. Watson
purposed two Laws regarding S-R Habits.
Law of frequency: The more frequent a stimulus and response occur in association with
each other, the stronger the S-R habit becomes.
Law of recency: Stresses the importance of timing and suggests that the response that
has most recently occurred after a particular stimulus is the response
most likely to be associated with that stimulus.
Watson believed that past experience accounts for virtually all behavior. His extreme environmentalism, which denied that hereditary factors had any effect
on behavior whatsoever, was reflected in the following quote:
Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed
and my own specified world to bring them up in and Ill guarantee to take
any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, and yes, even beggar man and thief, regardless of his talents,
tendencies, abilities vocation and race of his ancestors. (Watson, 1925).
Edwin R. Guthrie. Had similar beliefs
as Watson and purposed the contiguity theory.
Guthries perspective emphasized S-R connections, but Guthrie rejected
the notion that reward played a role in these connections. His basic principle
was as follows: (1935 1942)
A stimulus that is followed by a particular response will, upon its reoccurrence,
tend to be followed by the same response again.
Burrhus F. Skinner. Without question
the best known psychologist in the behaviorist tradition. Like Pavlov and Throndike,
B.F. Skinner subscribed to the principles of Operant Conditioning. Skinners most fundamental principle of Operant conditioning can be paraphrased as follows:
A response followed by a reinforcing stimulus is strengthened and therefore more likely to occur again.
Closely related to this principle, is Skinners Law of Extinction which states:
A response that is not followed by a
reinforcing stimulus is weakened and therefore less likely to occur again.
To precisely measure the responses in a controlled environment Skinner developed
a piece of equipment now known as the Skinner Box.
Although much of Pavlovs Classical Conditioning and Skinners Operant Conditioning
remain as major theoretical perspectives, they are continually being refined by ongoing research.
Several trends characterize the latest or newer behaviorism movements. These trends are:
attention on motivation as a factor affecting learning
attention to the role adverse consequences or punishment play in learning
Guthrie, Skinner each maintained that punishment had little effect on
recognition that learning and performance must be considered as separate,
yet, related entities.
As we have already noted, behaviorists define learning as a change in behavior
due to experience. The behaviorist perspective has at least two implications for education.
Student should be active participants throughout the learning process rather
than just passive recipients of whatever information is being taught. People
are more likely to learn when they actually have a chance to behave--------that
is...... when they can talk, write, experiment or demonstrate.
The second implication relates to assessment
of student learning is:
Regardless of how effective teachers think a certain lecture or particular set of curriculum material might be, they
should never assume that students are learning anything unless they actually observe behaviors changing as a result of instruction.
If I gave you overwhelming statistics supporting the fact that wearing seatbelts saves lives and improve driving safety, and you say you believe data is correct, yet, you refuse to buckle up, would you
say learning has taken place.
Only behavior changes------ in
the form of higher test scores, improved athletic
performance, more appropriate interaction skills, or better study habits-----can
ultimately confirm that learning has taken place.
THIS IS WHY MANY INSTRUCTORS GIVE PRE AND POST TEST
IT PROVIDES DATA TO SUPPORT WHERE YOU BEGIN AND WHERE YOU END UP, WHICH GIVES
A BASIS TO DETERMINE IF LEARNING HAS TAKEN PLACE