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Unformatted text preview: ating to environmental stimuli
other than food. For example, they would salivate at the appearance of the lab
technician who fed them (Pavlov, 1902). Pavlov and his associates began
studying this phenomenon systematically by pairing the presentation of food with
a second stimulus such as a bell, light, buzzer, metronome, or touching device
(Gray, 1979). In this famous work with dogs, Pavlov and his colleagues found 8 that if food was presented with one of these other stimuli, the two stimuli became
associated, and they then both elicited salivation. Pavlov’s basic experimental
work is summarized in figure 2.1 (appears at the end of the chapter).
As can be seen from Figure 2.1, Pavlov’s classical conditioning
experiment occurred in three phases. In the pre-conditioning phase, two separate
and pre-existing stimulus-response connections were present in the dogs. First, it
was noted that the presence of meat powder in the dog’s mouth would elicit the
response of salivating. As this stimulus/response connection was unlearned and
reflexive, Pavlov called the meat powder an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), and
the salivation response to the meat powder an unconditioned response (UCR).
The second stimulus, in this case a bell, elicited an orienting or attention response
such as looking in the direction of the sound.
During the conditioning phase, Pavlov established a connection between
the meat powder and the bell by presenting them together over a number of trials.
The goal was to connect the two stimuli by having them occur together (a form of
During the post-conditioning phase, learning had occurred because the bell
through its connection to the meat powder now elicited the response of salivation.
At this point in the process, Pavlov called the bell a conditioned stimulus (CS),
and the salivation response to the bell a conditioned response (CR). 9 Classroom Implications of Classical Conditioning
Certainly, the Pavlovian experiments are of tremendous historical
importance, but they may not be particularly informative about the role of
classical conditioning in classrooms. You probably will not be interested in
getting your children to salivate to a bell, or in creating new eliciting stimuli for
reflexes such as eye blinking or knee-jerking. However, classical conditioning is
important to you as a teacher because it provides a useful explanation for how
students acquire important emotional responses and attitudes (Tauber, 1990).
In the case of emotional responses, students can learn to associate an
initially neutral school stimulus with stimuli that already elicit strong emotions.
Eventually, they will respond to those school stimuli with the same emotions.
Consider the following examples of classical conditioning in schools.
• John feels nervous if he does poorly in front of others. In the past he has
done poorly on a number of math assignments and tests. Now when any
math teacher says take out a piece of paper for a test, his palms sweat and
he starts to feel ill. • Sally feels...
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- Spring '08