Educational Psychology in the Classroom


Learning is an outcome of contiguity. This line of thinking was the outcome of associations between things; stimulus and response, behaviour and consequence. The idea of the blank slate, or tabula rasa, suggests children can be anything. That is, it does not matter what they are born into, it is what happens and the learning experiences they have that shapes who they will become. This type of psychology focuses on observable behaviours only and does not consider thoughts, emotions and feelings. The learning children do is rote and the teacher manipulates what is given to the student so what they end up with is expected. Van Bergen, P (2010)

The behavioural approach has developed from this area and many teachers see effectiveness in the behavioural approach. Behaviorism may provide the methodology for examining student affect and cognition Williams, R (1999).

Implications for the classroom

"A teacher who uses behaviorism correctly in the classroom realises that the theory can only pertain to behaviors – not the act of learning. It is a tool in behavior modification – allowing students to see the standard behavior expected and what will happen if that standard is not met. " Cameron, J (2007)

Teachers must control the learning environment
– positive and negative consequences which need to be consistent so associations build up in the student
– control of how and when consequences are delivered Van Bergen, P (2010)

Useful for classroom management
– good use: praising students’ good work by use of stickers, stamps etc
– poor use: knuckle rap for writing with the wrong hand Van Bergen, P (2010)

See here for a comparison of behavourism and cognivtism.

Classroom activities
This page contains suggested classroom management skills and activities utilising the Behaviourist perspective.

Further Information
Funderstanding - view here
Behaviourism and the Classroom presentation - view here
Behaviourism: Learning Theory - view here
Skinner on Reinforcement - general psychology - view here
Behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivsim part1 - view here

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