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Demonstrate How Behavior Theories Apply, Within A School Based Situation To Ensure A Positive Learning Environment Is Encouraged At All Times.

3258 words - 13 pages

At their most basic, behavioural theories of learning, as opposed to cognitive explanations, focus on how a stimulus relates to an observable response from a respondent. It could be said that the pathways and associations - contiguity - that this learning creates define responses and thereby pattern the behaviour. Clearly, in a Primary school context, this can have impact at a variety of levels, be it individual behaviour management or policies and attitudes advocated throughout the whole school. This essay looks at behaviourism from the perspective of two theoretical approaches and their practical applications. However, it acknowledges a far larger contribution to the evolution of behavioural theories than can be more than mentioned here. For example, Krause et al (2003) go as far back as Aristotle's concept of the child's mind as a blank slate later taken up by Locke as the tabula rasa, where the learning is through sensory perception and association. (p 110) Schwartz et al (2002) develop this on through those such as Descartes, Hobbes and Hume.(p 8-17) For behaviour theory to be effective in a class and whole school context, the onus is on teachers and schools to adapt and apply these theories in an appropriate and practical manner in order to establish and maintain a purposeful positive learning environment.The traditional application of behaviourism to education tends to start with Pavlov and Watson's work on classical conditioning. Whilst recognising the various contributions these have made, this work will look at the theories of B.F.Skinner and operant conditioning and A.Bandura and social learning.B.F.Skinner went beyond the gaps unexplained by classical conditioning to explore the self-directed behaviours of individuals (operants) and the establishment of responses - both elicited or reflex - to previously experienced stimuli (respondents). The main contrast between classical and operant conditioning is that operant conditioning adapts behaviour through consequence whereas Pavlov aligned his stimuli to the desired response. Skinner's theory sought to link new responses to existing stimuli through reinforcement, his proposition was behaviour and responses that were reinforced would repeat themselves under similar circumstances. Whilst the processes of reinforcement are crucial to Skinner's theory, the two poles of 'antecedents' and their associated 'consequences' are the loci through which 'behaviourists believe that all voluntary (intentional) behaviour is controlled'. (Krause et al 2003; p 118) Skinner experimented with reinforcement elements, either intending to increase or decrease the frequency with which specific behaviours were demonstrated. This he achieved through manipulation of the reinforcer and associated consequences albeit mostly with rats and pigeons.In his interest in quantifying rates of response, Skinner discovered that behaviour would vary according to a 'schedule of reinforcement' ranging between continuous, fixed...

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