Behaviorism Approach to Education, Free Essay Sample

Published: 2022-05-27
Behaviorism Approach to Education, Free Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Education Psychology Behavior
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1438 words
12 min read

Behaviorism has had a great impact on learning and teaching processes. The behavioral psychology approach to education stresses on the scientific concepts of observation and measurement of learners and teachers' behavior (Mandler, 2013. The theory is pegged on the environmental stimulus-response learning principles. Behavioral psychologists stipulate that learning and/or teaching occurs only if the student is situated in a specific set up and offered certain evocations to produce particular outcomes. The behavioral theorists postulate that behavior is a learned concept and that the main objective of behaviorism psychology is to investigate the fundamental principles of learning (Thaler, 2015). The Behaviorism theory has had tremendous contributions to the education sector in fields such as the evolution of programmed learning, growth and development of distance learning and/or teaching, rise and development of open learning, the emergence of multimedia education, and growth of computer-oriented education. This research paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of behavioral psychology approach to education with regard to motivation, knowledge acquisition, differentiating instructions, multiculturalism, and use of technology in the classroom.

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Behaviorism and Motivation

According to behavioral psychologists, learning is a permanent change in behavior which is attributed to long-term practice and/ or experience (Mandler, 2013). The relationship between the input to the human brain and the output from the mind taking into account the processes that happen between the two operations greatly enhance intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of the students. The occurrences in the human mind such as the thinking concepts, the memory of ideas and facts, growth and development of communication skills greatly influence the motivation of learners. The study of behavioral psychology promotes learning and teaching in the fields of artificial know-how and development of expert systems.

Psychologist Phil Race developed a psychology model based on the principle that internal motivation is a significant element in the learning process. Phil postulated that internal motivation keeps a learner eager to know more concepts in a given field.

According to Behavioral psychologist B.F Skinner, if learners experience reinforcers, they tend to have appropriate relationships between the responses and external stimuli (Thaler, 2015). The stimulus-learning principle is based on evoking the intended responses through a well -established format glued on the notion of negative and positive reinforcers. Rewards serve as the positive reinforcers while punishments act as negative reinforcers. The desired outcomes are rewarded while the undesired outcomes are punished (Mandler, 2013). The rewards and punishments act as the reinforcing agents of motivation. The inclusion of behaviorism in the education setting assists learners to develop academically and physically. Language educators use choral chants while teaching phrasal topics, forms of speaking skills, and during correction activities. The reinforcing agent is presented at the end of the stimulus-response process.

Behavior which tends to be rewarded is commonly repeated. Teachers are advised to ignore some behaviors as ignoring the behavior causes such actions to diminish. Punishing bad behavior tends to suppress it for a short duration, but the element fails to change in the long-run.

In the classroom set up, the teacher is the main motivational character (Thaler, 2015). The teacher evaluates the learners and is the final judge of the academic and moral scores of the students. The educator decides what is right or wrong. As a consequence, the student plays no part in evaluation during the learning and teaching process.

Behaviorism and Constructivism

Constructivism postulates that language acquisition is founded on what the students already know (Mandler, 2013). Constructivism in education denotes that learners are capable of comprehending more personal constructed data. Students learn new concepts through constructing their understanding of the ideals. In this regard, the learner is the central character in the learning process. The teacher directs plans and organizes the whole learning process.

The invention of computers has led to the diversification of constructivism. Students use personal computers in school and home for experiments and personal work thereby developing the aspect of knowledge acquisition.

Behavioral Approaches to Differentiating Instructions

According to behavioral psychologists, a person undergoes four different intellectual steps from birth to adulthood. These different stages are the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operational step, as well as formal operational stage (Mandler, 2013). The different stages of intellectual growth and development dictate different approaches to instruction depending on the age of the learners. Children during the first stage develop egocentric characteristics hence the need for differentiated instruction. The sensorimotor step involves all the processes which occur when young ones aged below one year learn to distinguish between themselves and the substances in their immediate environments. The babies comprehend the external substances though they are not recognized by the human sensory system (Thaler, 2015). It is during this stage when children learn that objects don`t change with respect to different locations and orientation. The young ones further develop basic principles of causes of phenomena and the effects of such occurrences.

During the pre-operational intellectual stage, a child is incapable of comprehending notions in terms of other peoples` perspectives. The learners are highly egocentric and develop the aspect of grouping objects in regards to a single main component. At the age of about four years, the child starts to differentiate distinct classes and perform simple calculations. The child is unable to comprehend the systems of classifying and ordering objects (Thaler, 2015). The latter period of the pre-operational intellectual stage is marked by the learners being decentring, and they can now distinguish right from wrong.

Learners during the concrete operational stage learners develop the capability of objects classification based on various features (Mandler, 2013). The learners further develop logical aspects of substances. The learner is capable of handling reversible calculations in mathematics, organizational nature of substances into varied classes and sizes. The learner further develops complex notions of right and wrong.

Children changing to adults' marks as the formal operational intellectual stage. From the age of about thirteen years, learners change in terms of behavior and thinking levels (Thaler, 2015). The youth develop the ability to perform mental functions without seeing or touching the objects. During this intellectual stage, the learner develops the ability to set the hypothesis and have a mature notion of the current issues and progressively develop a proper understanding of contemporary moral concepts.

Behaviorism and Multiculturalism

In the 1980s, behavior theorists performed experiments to investigate the inter-relationship between behaviorism and multiculturalism (Thaler, 2015). Multicultural psychology in education focusses on the activities of individual characters as well as the whole educational institution. Multiculturalism considers the influence of ethnicity on the learning and the teaching process. Research indicates that varied cultures contribute to prejudice and stereotyping in the education sector.

Behaviorism and Instructional Technology

The behavioral psychologist B. F Skinner had enormous contributions to curriculum instruction, and education technology research (Mandler, 2013). Instructional design is a scientifically based process for application of the known facts to set instructional frameworks that promote learning process. The application of instructional designs started in the 1960s in higher educational institutions in Europe. The designs were aimed at measuring the human behavior.

Psychologist Fred Keller first designed the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) model in 1968. The Fred Model involves sequentially continuous actions all aimed at revolutionizing the learning process through the use of learning tools in small volumes. The Plan is aimed at applying new technologies in the teaching and learning setups. Under the PSI, teachers act as facilitators and learners are not punished (Mandler, 2013). Furthermore, the teacher awards only two grades to learners; pass or fail.


The behavioral approaches to education have several strengths and weaknesses. The researchers performed experiments which are relevant not only to the wide array of players in psychology practice in education but also to Education Management as a discipline. Research institutions were established such as George Mandler`s Center for Human Information Processing in the United States of America. The early behavioral psychologists performed various research using animal-based experiments and made several deductions based on the environmental stimuli-response. The approach applied animal behavior which is not a viable indicator of human behavior. Humans are more intellectually developed than the other experimental animals. The behavioral theory lays more emphasis on external environment ignoring the internal changes thereby disregarding emotions in the learning process. The approach failed to consider the mental domains. The scientific evolutions led to the emergence of computers with several similarities with the human brain such as memory tools, data storage, and information retrieval. Furthermore, the reflexes and reinforcements in terms of rewards and punishments fail to explain all human behavior which is dynamic. To sum up, student behavior is determined by correct responses and undesired responses.


Mandler, G. (2013). The limit of mental structures. The Journal of general psychology, 140(4), 243-250.

Thaler, R. (2015). The Making of Behavioral Economics: Misbehaving. New York.

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