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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

Behaviorist theorists believe all behaviors can be unlearned and the key element to this theory is reward response. I wish that held true with all students, but I don’t believe that it does. I do use many methods that go along with the behaviorist theory such as contracts, consequences, reinforcement, extinction and behavior modification, and therefore, I believe it does have a place in education and educational technology today.
According to Standridge, “simple contracts can be effective in helping children focus on behavior change” (Laureate ) I have seen this work when dealing with children that need minor behavior changes. However, I have had students who were dealing with lots of issues, and contracts did not work. Honestly, I felt it was more of an imposition on my part to constantly monitor behavior every thirty minutes as some contracts are done. Usually these contracts were set up by our guidance counselor but left up to me to maintain. I do use both positive and negative consequences. I use a ticket system all during the day when I catch students doing the right thing. On Friday, they cash in five tickets for a piece of candy. I also use treasure box. Just as Dr. Orey stated in the video about his own son and his classes, most teachers use clip pulling for punishment, but before a student moves their clip, they must tell me what rule is broken. The point is for students to take ownership in the rule they broke so that hopefully, it won’t happen again.
There are times when behaviorist technology applications are appropriate and effective. Currently, our system is using istation as a means of testing, drilling and practicing for reading intervention. This is the fourth year we have used it. Even if a child does poorly on the initial testing, the program is designed to raise self- esteem as well as academics. The commentator will say, “Keep working hard and try your best.” The students love it. There are other programs out there that praise students for their hard work. It motivates the students to work harder.

I do think online educational programs need to be evaluated constantly by the classroom teacher. There needs to be a purpose in the program not just a usage of time in the classroom. “Researchers find that reading for understanding online requires the same skills as offline reading, including using prior knowledge and make predictions, plus a asset of additional critical-thinking skills that reflect the open-ended, continually changing online context” (David, 2009, p. 84).

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
David, J. (March, 2009). Teaching Media Literacy.

1 comment:

  1. I love your ticket idea. I had the same concept but used golden stars to reward a extraordinary kid each day. Five stars per week meant five names in a hat. One student drew a name of one the starts entered and that one lucky person won $5! They loved it.