Part of What Brought Me into Education as a Career

Part of What Brought Me into Education as a Career
My Children

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Behaviorist Learning Theory

The focus for this week is “Behaviorist Learning Theory”.  This particular topic is always very interesting to me, especially reinforcement and punishment.  Reading Hartley’s principle, “Reinforcement” I agree and believe that “Reinforcement is the cardinal motivator. Positive reinforcers like rewards and successes are preferable to negative events like punishments and failures”. ( Hartley, 1998)  I naturally use positive reinforcement daily with my class.  I am constantly reminding myself how important it is to catch my students being good and letting them know immediately when I see the behavior that I want!  Even just simply letting them know that I appreciate when they are working quiet and then it seems to be even more silent…it’s amazing how reinforcement especially the “positive kind” works!
With the idea of homework and practice I do have some trouble.  My children come home with so much it seems a bit ridiculous, I only say this because it’s the kind of homework that is more for memorization and NOT for practice.  I believe that practice can be done throughout the day in the classroom.  Therefore I do practice throughout the day with my students.  Daily I will throw up a couple of problems that relate directly to what we are practicing in class on the board during a transition for the students to complete and share with table groups.  Just a couple minutes, practice and I am right there with their peers to help.  My practice fits perfectly with one of James Hartley’s principles, “Repetition, generalization and discrimination are important notions. Frequent practice - and practice in varied contexts - is necessary for learning to take place. Skills are not acquired without frequent practice”.  ( Hartley, 1998) We do practice with repetition daily.  I find homework of this kind hard because some parents cannot help if a child is stuck and how is that productive?
Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from

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