Thorndike and Skinner's Behaviorist Theory in the Classroom

Published: 2021-09-15 00:30:10
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Category: Psychology

Type of paper: Essay

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The application of behaviorist theory to the classroom has generally been referred to as explicit or direct instruction. Although these approaches have been criticized for use in the general education setting, they have shown promising results, particularly for children with learning problems. The positive aspects of the behaviorally oriented approaches can be combined with some of the ideas that are more popular in the general education setting.

One strategy associated with structured approaches to teaching involves breaking down the tasks into small, manageable segments for teaching. Before conducting a science lesson on sound, the teacher could simplify a complex science task by introducing and teaching only one step of the scientific method, for example statement of the problem, so that the procedures and purposes are clear prior to going over all of the steps involved. This is particularly useful for students with learning disabilities as they become easily frustrated and overwhelmed when material appears too complex initially and they often give up before even starting a task.

Modeling is another important component of explicit instructional techniques. In the writing process, for example, it is important for a teacher to explain and demonstrate each stage. It is generally not sufficient to name and give some examples of pre-writing strategies or proofreading; the teacher might actually demonstrate for the whole class and perhaps individually exactly how each step is accomplished. When writing a paper, for example, on "The most significant event in your life," the teacher could guide the students in brainstorming ideas and making a graphic organizer of topics. For students with learning disabilities, modeling is critical because of their feelings of being overwhelmed. In addition, the model provides the extra guidance that is needed for these students.

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