Behavioral Learning Essay Research Paper BEHAVIORAL LEARNING

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Behavioral Learning Essay, Research Paper BEHAVIORAL LEARNING THEORIES Educational Psychology Journal Article Presentation Most theorists agree that learning occurs when experience causes a change in a person’s knowledge or behavior . Behaviorists emphasize the role of environmental stimuli in learning and focus on the behavior, i.e., an observable response. Behavioral theories are based on contiguity, classical and operant conditioning, applied behavior analysis, social learning theory and self-regulation/cognitive behavior modification. Early views of learning were contiguity and classical conditioning. In contiguity learning, two events are repeatedly paired together and become associated in the learner’s mind. Pavlov took this idea one step further in his experiments

on classical conditioning where a previously neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with a stimulus that evokes an emotional or physiological response. Later, the previously neutral stimulus alone evokes the response. In other words, the conditioned stimulus brings forth the conditioned response. Operant conditioning is the most applicable of all the behavioral theories to actual classroom learning. Operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner and states that people learn through the effects of their deliberate responses. The effects of consequences following an action may serve as a reinforcement or as a punishment for that action. Both positive and negative reinforcers strengthen or increase a response. Punishment decreases or suppresses the behavior. Also, the scheduling

of reinforcers influences the rate and persistence of behaviors. In a paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in 1994 the principles of operant conditioning were evaluated. This paper discusses the integration of educational and mental health services for children and adolescents within a psychiatric day treatment setting at the Bradley School housed in a private psychiatric hospital affiliated with Brown University in Rhode Island. A 6-week inservice program focusing on the principles of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement was implemented. The study was designed to evaluate the use of behavior management strategies in the classroom, and positive results were found in the decrease in restraints and crisis incidents. Crisis

incidents were defined as a child being required to leave the classroom because of unacceptable behavior, e.g., persistent noncompliance. As the revised treatment module began to work, community special education programs began to send students for short term diagnostic placements, and a plan is in development for “transition classrooms” intended for children who no longer need intensive treatment but are not yet ready to return to the community. Applied behavior analysis provides teachers with methods for encouraging positive behaviors and coping with undesirable ones. Negative reinforcement and forms of punishments like reprimands and social isolation can help alter behavior, but should be used with caution. Teachers can reinforce desirable student behavior through

attention, recognition, praise and other reinforcers. An article entitled “Food For Thought: Teacher Nonverbal Immediacy, Student Learning, and Curvilinearity” touched on immediacy behaviors as a type of reinforcer. The article states that teachers can use these immediacy behaviors to communicate a positive regard and stimulate their students. Immediacy behaviors are those that enhance closeness to and interaction with others because they reduce psychological and/or physical distance between communicators, increase overall sensory stimulation and arousal, and promote liking. Nonverbal immediacy behaviors are particularly useful to teachers in this regard because most relational messages are communicated nonverbally, leaving the verbal channel available for messages of course