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Development and Diversity - Essay Example

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Development and Diversity Developmental theories such as behaviorist theories, cognitive theories, and social learning theory are some of the standards which have shaped the teaching and learning environment of today. This paper focuses on one of these theories which have been instrumental in structuring the manner in which students and teachers interact with each other on a daily basis as such the author attempts to describe the principles of the behaviorist theory and how this theory can be applied to the classroom…
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Download file to see previous pages Later Thorndike added to the Pavlov’s theory by incorporating the idea of learning occurring when there was a “bond” between the stimuli and the response (Standridge, 2002). For Thorndike, the learner’s behavior could be adjusted by the presence of strong connections between the stimuli and response. B.F. Skinner added operant conditioning to the milieu and he established the concepts of reward and punishment. Rewards or praise connoted positive reinforcement. This type of reinforcement produced the necessary connections between the stimuli and response as posited by Thorndike. Likewise, punishment was considered to be negative reinforcement which causes the learner to reduce the inappropriate behavior. Skinner believed that although reinforcement increases learning, reinforcement that is given on an irregular basis allows the learning to be added to the long-term memory. Skinner’s operant conditioning was followed by Watson and eventually Guthrie established his “contiguity (simultaneity of stimulus and response events)” theory (Lefrancois as cited in Standridge 2002). The behaviorist theorists all concluded that behavior could be changed through classical conditioning. In particular, behaviorist theorists combine reward and punishment in order to change the behavior of individuals. Thus, within a classroom setting, rewards and punishment are two dimensions of the behaviorist theory that still have great impact on the day to day operation of the classroom. Firstly, teachers can adopt the strategies to change the behavior of a disruptive student to more appropriate behavior. For example, if a student is continuously shouting across the classroom to other students then the teacher may choose either of two options. One, the teacher may use a simple praise tactic such as smiling with the student when he/she remains quiet in the seat or openly praising the behavior when it occurs. Secondly, the teacher may apply the negative reinforcement of ignoring the behavior providing that it does not cause damage to the said student or anyone else within the classroom. In ignoring the behavior the teacher does not give the student the attention that is craved by the student. In addition, the teacher may provide rewards on a minute basis such as praising the student whenever the teacher catches the student displaying the appropriate behavior. This act of rewarding appropriate behavior and negatively reinforcing inappropriate behavior is one example of learning for the behaviorists. In spite of these advantages to the classroom, the behaviorist theory has drawbacks to its use within the classroom setting. Firstly, Standridge (2002) suggests that behaviorists explore the observable behavior of individuals therefore the internal workings such as thought patterns, feelings and emotions are not included in the idea of behaviorism. Further, behaviorism considers learning that takes place due to the interaction of reinforcement and punishment but no consideration is given to behaviors that occur outside of these two elements. Moreover, Piaget suggests that individuals learn through adaption of new information into their schema. The behaviorist th ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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