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Teaching Strategies: Learning Theory









v  Behaviorists believe that if you can’t observe it, then you can’t measure it, and therefore it is a waste of time trying to include something you can’t see into a learning theory. That thing that the behaviorists could not observe was your thinking. Thus, behaviorists looked at learning only as an outcome of someone’s behavior (hence the name behaviorists) and developed several learning theories as a result.

v  In this assignment, you will apply behaviorist principals to teaching strategies in an effort to help your case study learn and defend the behaviorist learning theory in the context of your own personal learning theory.

v  Student example of this assignment is located in step 6.



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Click here to watch a video on how to do this assignment


Step 1: Describe a teaching strategy in your standards-based lesson plan that you think supports your case study’s learning via behaviorism. 

v  This will be done in TWO parts. First find a teaching strategy that supports classical conditioning and then find a teaching strategy that supports operant conditioning. Keep the two strategies separate please!

v  If you find that the teaching strategy in your lesson plan is missing, not specific enough, or is lacking in details, then this is a great opportunity to create, expand, or adapt your lesson instructions and make it better!

·         For example, in our student lesson plan example from the previous assignment, step number 1  in the writing assignment, the author believes that this supports students’ learning via classical conditioning:Description: Description: MCj04344370000[1]

v  Teacher then brings the group’s attention back using the clock timer’s bell.


Step 2: Defend why your teaching strategy will work to support your students’ learning via behaviorism.

v  This will be done in TWO parts. First defend your teaching strategy that supports classical conditioning and then defend your teaching strategy that supports operant conditioning. Keep the two strategies separate please!

·         To get you started in defending your teaching strategy, consider the following questions as a guide for your thinking, but you don’t have to address all of them. Please feel free to come up with your own approaches to help defend your teaching strategy.

o   How does your teaching strategy in your lesson…

§  actually work via classical conditioning?

§  actually work via operant conditioning? Description: Description: MCj02806910000[1]

·         Review the resources below to provide you with the research behind the defense of your teaching strategy. You are welcome to use your own resources via other text, internet, etc., as long as you provide valid citations of where you got your answer.


Review  Background of Learning and Learning Theories (No need to include definition of learning  in your answer, but definitely both classical and operant conditioning)

Read Woolfolk Text

12th Edition

·         Read Text: p. 244-277 – Behavioral Views of Learning (same topics as those listed in 11th edition below)


11th Edition

·         Definition of Learning

o   Read Text: p. 198-200 – Understanding Learning

·         Learning Theories and Theorists

o   View website: Sampling of Learning Theories

o   Read Text: p. 370 – Table 10.4 Four Views of Learning

Behaviorism – Classical Conditioning

·         Classical Conditioning

o   Read Text: p. 200-201- Early Explanations of Learning: Contiguity and Classical Conditioning

o   Watch YouTube video of Pavlov’s classically conditioning a dog

o   Watch YouTube video of Watson’s little Albert.

o   Watch YouTube video of college student classically conditioning his roommate

o   Teaching Strategies:

§  Read Text: p. 202 -Guidelines: Applying Classical Conditioning

Description: Description: MCj02871580000[1]Behaviorism – Operant Conditioning

·         Operant Conditioning

o   Read Text: p. 201-204 – Operant Conditioning

o   Reinforcement Schedules

§  Read Text: p. 204-205 – Reinforcement Schedules

o   Teaching Strategies:

§  Antecedents

·         Read Text: p. 206 – Antecedents and Behavior Change

·         Read Text: p. 207 – Figure 6.2 – Written Prompts: A Peer Tutoring Checklist

§  Applied Behavior Analysis

·         Positive Behaviors

o   Read Text: p. 207-210 – Applied Behavior Analysis

o   Read Text: p. 209 – Guidelines: Using Praise Appropriately

o   Read Text: p. 211 – Guidelines: Encouraging Positive Behaviors

·         Negative Behaviors

o   Read Text: p. 210-213 – Handling Undesirable Behavior

o   Read Text: p. 213 – Guidelines: Using Punishment

·         Consequences

o   Read Text: p. 214 – 216 – Putting it all Together: Behavioral Approaches to Teaching and Management

·         Severe Behavior Problems

o   Read Text: p. 216 – 220 – Reaching Every Student: Severe Behavior Problems

·         Criticisms of Behavioral Methods

o   Read Text: p. 224 – 226 – Problems and Issues





·         For example, in our student lesson plan example, here is how the author defends that the writing activity supports students’ learning via classical conditioning:

o   According to the Woolfolk text, Classical conditioning occurs when one stimulus that has no meaning (Neutral Stimulus - NS) is associated enough times with another stimulus that does have meaning (Unconditioned Stimulus) and replaces it to produce a response from someone (Unconditioned Response). When this occurs the neutral stimulus has been conditioned (Conditioned stimulus – CS) and the response has been conditioned (Conditioned Response – CR). In my lesson, the clock timer bell is the NS, which has no meaning, but because I associated my repeated asking of the students (UCS) to pay attention (UCR) with the clock timer, the clock timer became meaningful. Below, I use a diagram to make this conditioning easier to understand:


Before Classical Conditioning:


·         Me  asking for students’ attention (UCS) = Students’ paying attention (UCR)


During Classical Conditioning:


·         Clock Timer’ bell (NS)  +  Me asking for students’ attention (UCS) = Students’ paying attention (UCR)


After Classical Conditioning:


·         Clock Timer’ bell (CS)  = Students’ paying attention (CR)


·         Now all I have to do to get my students’ attention is to ring the clock timer’s bell instead of asking for students’ attention.




Step 3:  Choose a behaviorist teaching strategy below that you think helps students learn best and explain why you think it is the best strategy. This strategy should be different from the classical and operant conditioning strategies already identified and described previously  in step 1 and 2.

v  All of these behaviorist teaching strategies can be found in the Woolfolk text in Chapter 7 (12th edition) and Chapter 6 (11th edition)

o   Reinforcement Schedules, Prompting/Cueing, Reinforcing with Teacher Attention, The Premack Principle, Using Praise Appropriately,  Shaping, Task Analysis, Positive Practice, Reprimands, Response Cost, Social Isolation, Time Out, Using Punishment, Group Consequences, Contingency Contracts, Token Reinforcement.



·         For example, here is how the author in the student example might answer:

o   I think that the type of Variable-Interval Reinforcement Schedule used in a lesson is one of the most effective behaviorist teaching strategies because it maintains the amount of effort that students put toward a class assignment. According to the Woolfolk text, getting students to keep working on an assignment depends on the unpredictability of the consequence. So, if students always s expect a reward every time for an assignment, then students only do the assignment right before the assignment is due. If  students aren’t sure about when the reward is coming for the assignment, then students have to constantly keep up with the assignments because they have to make sure not to miss the reward. In this way, the reward doesn’t become the sole focus of doing the assignment and I believe that the students will stop expecting being rewarded for every little thing that they do. If that happens, then the students begin doing the homework for the sake of doing the work, and hopefully, will bring the focus of completing the work back on learning the homework material.


Description: Description: MCBD04999_0000[1]Step 4:  Based on the teaching strategy chosen above, incorporate that strategy into your standards-based lesson plan instruction. 

·         For example, here is how the author in the student example might answer:

o   I will add the variable-interval reinforcement schedule into my homework part of my lesson.  I had intended to give the students 10 points every time they did the homework, but now I am going to randomize when I give the students points, and only reward the homework intermittently. Here are my new steps for my lesson instruction in step 2:

§  Teacher tells students that they must come up with at least two supporting facts for their opinion by the next class day to be shared with the class.

1.      To  motivate the students to complete the assignment, I will give the students 10 points for their two supporting facts if they are completed by class time the next day.

2.      However, I will also tell the students that getting points for completing assignments will be randomized after the first few times and that they will not always know when they will receive points.



Step 5:  Choose a behaviorist teaching strategy above that you think doesn’t help students learn and explain why you think that this strategy is ineffective.

·         For example, here is how the author in the student example might answer:

o   I think that an ineffective behaviorist teaching strategy is group consequences. This is when the entire class is punished as a consequence of an unknown individual. The idea here is that the group will pressure the individual to develop positive behaviors if it results in the entire class being punished. I believe that this strategy doesn’t support student learning because it always hurts a few innocent students every time it is used and thus, while the group consequence may support one student to reduce their bad behavior, I think it also removes support for students being good. So, it becomes a trade-off for me, and thus, is not effective.



Step 6: Present and communicate your answers  electronically and place in your standards-based lesson plan at the end of Part II (after your lesson instructions).
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·         Although a majority of you will defend your teaching strategy by writing a paragraph, there may be a few of you that may want to use other alternative media, and I want to support that and give you options to be creative. You may also use a combination of media to make your point. For example, you may combine some writing, with images, podcast, YouTube Video, PowerPoint, etc., to defend your teaching strategy.

·         Keep in mind that any presentation method is valid as long as it clearly communicates and supports your answer. My only criteria for the type of media used is that the media is electronic and can be placed or linked successfully from your lesson plan.

·         After you have completed your answers, then place it at the end of your standards-based lesson plan at the end of Part 2: Guiding the Learning  (after your lesson instructions). Place a heading above your answer – Teaching Strategies: Learning Theory  - Behaviorism

·         See student example #1 as a model (go to the end of the lesson in Part 2: Guiding the Learning to view).

·         When finished, go to the next section!