Behaviorist learning theories have been and will be used in the classroom for years. Using these theories and how in depth someone takes them depends of the instructional strategies used in the classroom. In my classroom, I use many different instructional strategies because I teach technology and using the same methods over and over get boring for the students. In turn this may cause them to become behavior problems. I use mostly a project-based curriculum, therefore my instructional strategies are ones that get the students involved in what I am teaching them. In the article, “the behaviourist orientation to learning”, James Hartley (1998) talks about for key principles to use when dealing with behaviorist theories (Smith, 1999). First is that activity is important because learning is better when the learner is active rather than passive (Smith, 1999). This is so true in my classroom. I get many behaviorally challenged students in my classes because the guidance counselor has no where else to put them. I find to have a better connection with these students because they are active in my room using there hands to build things.
Also Hartley (1998) mentions that learning is helped when objectives are clear (Smith, 1999). When I am going over project and directions in my classroom, I make sure that the students know what the objectives are and what needs to get done. Being I have been there for four years now, words travels, and I am starting to get students who know what my rules are and know not to break them.
Going through the text, I found that “Reinforcing Effort” seems to be a great strategy. I find the connection made between the effort put forth in the chart and the grade at the bottom to be a very real and eye opening way to show students that effort and grades are tied together. Using that chart not only shows students that there behavior in the classroom effects there grade but it also gives them a small responsibility to be truthful in putting a number on there effort in class and also the responsibility of remembering to fill the chart in. If a student happens to lie on the chart and ends up with a poor test grade, then it will not be hard to tell that they student is not being truthful. This activity helps to add evidence that positive reinforcement in the behaviorist learning theories are important in the classroom.
After reading through the text on “Homework and Practice”, some very important ideas jumped out at me. I have caught myself doing this and I would venture to say most teachers have, I assign homework and then either forget to check it, collect it and forget to grade it or even collect it and not even acknowledge it. Once sentence that jumped off the page at me was “If homework is assigned, it should be commented on” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski, 2007). If we are using behaviorist theories and providing positive reinforcement, how do we covey to our students that we “forgot” about the homework when them forgetting to do the homework may result in a punishment!
Another thing that stood out on the page was the fact that a homework policy needs to be established and assignments need to clearly articulate purpose (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski, 2007). This also aligns with the ideas that Hartley (1998) presented. He talked about how learning is helped when objectives are clear (Smith, 1999). When we convey a clear concise message to our students about the assignments we want them to complete, there is no question that they know what to do and should be able to complete the assignment with no issues.
I feel that I have developed many good instructional strategies, which help bring certain aspects of the behaviorist learning theory into my classroom. I am a big believer in positive reinforcement but also know there is a time and place for punishment.
Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.