Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Behaviorism In Practice

After reviewing the chapters in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I found not only some great ideas to use in my own classroom, but also many ways in which, “Reinforcing Effort” and “Homework and Practice” share common themes with the behaviorist theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
            First, for “Reinforcing Effort” I really liked the idea of a student created rubric and spreadsheet to help keep track of the effort they gave on a particular unit. Then it even went as far as to compare the effort they gave each unit to the score they received on that unit’s assessment. I teach 5th grade and I know how hard it can be to convince a student to just try and work hard to do their best. If they were able to see what a pay off putting more effort into their schoolwork could do to their grades I think a lot more of them would be easily convinced.  I believe that doing an activity like this goes along well with the behaviorist theory on reinforcement of behaviors that are favorable; in this case higher test scores. Most importantly is that this can be an intrinsic reinforcement because it was up to the student to grade how much effort they put into the unit and to compare that to their test score.
            As I was reading the chapter on, “Homework and Practice” I started to think about the generalization it listed, “If homework is assigned, it should be commented upon” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). This statement reminded me a lot of the behaviorist theory because if the homework was never graded, checked-off or commented on then the student would learn that there was no reinforcement or punishment for either getting the homework completed or not having it completed. Also going along with the behaviorist model is the, “drill and practice” part of a student learning (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011).  Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski discuss the importance of students being able to learn a new skill, get guided practice and then have more individual time to really gain a full understanding of the new concept. With all the new technology coming out today students need to be able to use it properly. Even learning a new skill on the computer takes many repetitions to master. There is positive reinforcement involved since it creates a desired result for the user when they get the process right.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program three: Instructional theory vs. learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. I agree with you that the text had wonderful ideas on integrating technology and behaviorism in the classroom. The spreadsheet in particular will help students to both monitor their behavior and change what they need to in an effort to improve the on things they need improving on. The teacher can also use the spread sheet for future reference when and if the child keeps repeating the undesired behavior. The teachers can also use this spread sheet to evaluate how students were socialized, because the teacher might see something wrong with the behavior the students is display and the parent and student might not see anything wrong with it. The ideas given on homework and practice were also informative. Great ideas

  2. I found many of the things you did to be very positive. The chart that the students used in reinforcing effort seemed to be working based on the way the teacher described it. It is a system that will let you know if the student is lying or not. Will students grading themselves, i feel that seem to be more truthful because they have nobody to impress but themselves. I found the statement about homework and commenting to hit home hard. Thinking back now, i tend to do this a lot with homework in my class. I have stopped giving homework because i would rather have the students focus more on the in class projects then worry about getting homework done and being punished for it. Using the right instructional strategy with some of the behaviorist learning theories is the happy medium.

  3. Katie,

    It is funny that you mentioned the quote about homework being commented on. I have recently had a problem with a parent who doesn't understand why their student isn't getting a one hundred on all of the homework he has turned in. The parent tried to make it seem like it was my fault. To many teachers walk around the room and put a check mark in their grade book because they see the homework completed. I do not believe that this is correct. If this is the only purpose for homework then it should not be assigned.