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Unformatted text preview: e the programs were implemented (Kazdin,
1982). However, transfer of learning has been a major problem for many different
approaches to instruction, not just behavioral approaches (Detterman, 1990).
The concern that reinforcement systems may damage intrinsic motivation
continues to be debated today (Cameron, 2001; Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Deci,
Koestner, & Ryan, 2001a; Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001b; Kohn, 1996). The
damage to intrinsic motivation is more likely to occur when reinforcement is
offered for compliance or task completion, than when the rewards are more
symbolic of students’ efforts and achievements (Cameron & Pierce, 1994;
Chance, 1993). For example, it’s typically better to reward students for improving
their math skills than for rewarding them just for completing a task like a
worksheet. Also, the potential adverse effect on intrinsic motivation tends to be
more likely when tangibles are used than when social and natural reinforcers are
used appropriately (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001a).
The Debate Over Behavioral Instructional Techniques
Generally, behavioral instructional methods have been criticized for taking
a part-to-whole approach, and for focusing on teacher-directed approaches to
instruction. Critics have suggested that that application of behavioral learning
theory leads to drill-and-practice of isolated skills, and limited opportunities for 43 students to collaborate, explore, and discover knowledge (Kohn, 1993a). For
example, young readers would spend considerable time practicing phonics in
isolation with worksheets, rather than practicing these skills in context and with
Although a complete focus on isolated skill learning may be problematic,
it is also important to note that some practice of isolated skills is often useful for
learners (Harris & Graham, 1996). For example, true discovery may require large
amounts of practice with the skills and information necessary for those
discoveries (Skinner, 1984). Also, complicated behaviors like problem solving
can be taught through behavioral ideas such as cumulative practice and stimulus
control (Mayfield & Chase, 2002). Consistent with a theme of this text, we take
the perspective that behavioral approaches are useful for some teaching needs and
not for others. In later chapters, we will discuss how you might decide when to
use behavioral approaches in your classroom.
Behavioral Learning Principles
One of the themes of this book is that appropriate application of
psychological theory improves the quality of teachers’ decisions. Behavioral
learning theory provides a number of useful concepts for your classroom
decision-making. To help you apply these concepts, we have summarized them in
terms of three major learning principles. In later chapters, these principles will be 44 used to organize discussions about the decisions involved in planning lessons,
determining how to teach and how to manage classroom behavior.
Principle 2.1: Learning is Measurable and Observable.
To a beh...
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- Spring '08