Chapter 2 - 1 CHAPTER 2 B E H A V IO R A L L E A R N IN G T...

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1 CHAPTER 2 BEHAVIORAL LEARNING THEORY By the time you have finished this chapter, you will have learned how to use concepts from behavioral learning theories to interpret and respond to the types of situations discussed above. These concepts and their connections to professional standards for teachers are listed in Table 2.1 (Appears at the end of the chapter). Additionally, the behavioral learning theory concepts presented in this chapter have been combined to form a few key learning principles. These principles are listed below. In later chapters, you will learn how to use these principles to design and deliver instruction and to manage classroom behavior. Principle 2.1: Learning is measurable and observable. Principle 2.2 : Learning of complicated behaviors occurs gradually and step-by-step. Principle 2.3: Learning results from the effects of stimuli on responses. Behavioral View of Learning From a behavioral perspective, learning occurs when environmental stimuli produce a relatively permanent and observable change in learners’ responses. As you can see from this definition of learning, behaviorists define learning in terms of observable events called stimuli and responses. A stimulus is
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2 an observable environmental event that has the potential to exert control over a behavioral response (Becker, 1986). For example, the grade you desire in this class is an environmental stimulus that can exert control over how you study and your class attendance. A response is an overt behavior by a learner. In the previous example, your studying behavior for this class would be an example of a response. Behavioral learning models explain how behavior changes through the influence of various types of stimuli. Types of Stimuli Behaviorists identify three types of stimuli based on their effects on learners’ responses. These three types of stimuli are eliciting stimuli, consequences and antecedents (Alberto & Troutman, 1999; Becker, 1986). Eliciting Stimuli Eliciting stimuli are observable environmental events that come immediately before a response, and that automatically elicit or produce that response. For example, if you were to move your hand quickly toward another person’s face, that person would probably respond in one of several predictable ways. That person might move her head back, or even put her hand up to protect her face. In this situation, the approaching hand would qualify as an eliciting stimulus for the responses of moving the head back or putting up a hand. The hand movement comes immediately before these responses, and it automatically elicits or produces them. Some forms of learning occur when people learn to
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3 produce a particular response when an eliciting stimulus is present. For example, you may have learned to respond by automatically saying “present” when a teacher calls your name during roll.
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