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 http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm