Generalization occurs if the stimulus is similar

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Unformatted text preview: 3). In the case of classical conditioning, this involves producing the conditioned response to stimuli that are similar to the conditioned stimulus, but that were not present in the original conditioning. In the Pavlovian experiment, dogs may salivate to a bell with a slightly different tone than the one used during the conditioning experiment. Generalization occurs if the stimulus is similar enough to the original conditioned stimulus to evoke the response. In operant conditioning, generalization occurs when the learner understands that the consequences for responding to one antecedent stimulus are the same as the consequences for responding to another similar antecedent stimulus (Schwartz, 1989). For example, a child may find that he is praised for labeling an equilateral triangle as a triangle, and that he is also praised for labeling 34 a right triangle as a triangle. Responding by correctly labeling three-sided objects as triangles earns the reinforcement, and represents an example of generalization. Discrimination occurs when learners identify two similar stimuli as being different, and they respond to them differently (Terrace, 1966). To carry the Pavlovian example further, the dog may not salivate to the sound of playing cards pinned to the spokes of a bicycle. The noise is distinct enough to be responded to differently by the dog. In operant conditioning, discrimination occurs when the learner observes that reinforcement is associated with responding to one stimulus but not another. Using the earlier example, the child will get praised for calling a right triangle a triangle, but will not get praised for calling a square a triangle. Students’ ability to discriminate between stimuli is an important component of many academic skills such as learning the verbal labels for different objects, knowing how to respond to different types of instructions, and concept learning such as distinguishing nouns and verbs (Green, 2001). Generalization and discrimination form the basis for an important idea in operant conditioning called stimulus control. Stimulus control means that learners’ behaviors are under the control of certain antecedents in their environment (Bower & Hilgard, 1981; Green, 2001; O’Donnell, Crosbie, Williams, & Saunders, 2000). Stimulus control develops because of learners’ reinforcement history with antecedent stimuli. If a response that is given in the 35 presence of a certain antecedent is reinforced, that response tends to be repeated when that antecedent or similar stimuli are present in later experiences (generalization). If a response fails to earn reinforcement when it is cued by an antecedent stimulus, then that response tends not to be given when that antecedent or similar stimuli occur in the future (discrimination). In the concept learning example given above, students will call a three-sided shape a triangle, because they have been reinforced for this response to these types of antecedents in the past. In your classroom, you are going to notice that some students resp...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.

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