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Behaviorism in the Education Theory


In education field, behaviorism is also a philosophy of mind with certain assumptions about human nature as well as about the essential workings of the mind. This philosophy of mind is interdependent with behaviorist philosophy of science; each justifies the other. Given the assumptions of the behaviorist philosophy of mind, the kinds of methods, theories, and explanations favored by behaviorist philosophy of science appear most appropriate. Conversely, the behaviorist philosophy of science supports its philosophy of mind. A science restricted to a limited set of methods and explanations will tend to confirm a particular conception of mind. behaviorism also represents a certain set of values. It recommends goals for behavioral science and suggests standards for evaluating scientific activity. Values are even more salient with respect to applied behavioral science in which behaviorism promotes applications congruent with particular social aims. Behaviorism must therefore be seen as an ideology as well as a philosophy of psychology. Philosophy and ideology are tightly integrated in behaviorism, and one cannot be fully understood without the other.

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Theory of Behaviorism

In the simplest case, behavioral laws permit the inference of statements about responses from statements about the external environment. Note that for both dispositions and states, the conditional is assumed to hold only when certain other conditions obtain: the soluble substance is not expected to dissolve if the water is frozen. These other conditions are covered by the ceteris paribus clause implicitly included in the definition of a dispositional term, although these conditions cannot be exhaustively listed. Since both test conditions (stimuli) and outcomes (responses) are public and observable, the attribution of a state meets behaviorist criteria of objectivity and empiricalness (Allday 729).

Operationist principles are neatly congruent with behaviorist aspirations. If it is stipulated that operations must be publicly observable (i.e., introspection is excluded), repeatable, and specified precisely enough for others to carry them out, then there will be intersubjective agreement and verifiability for the operations, their results, and consequently the application of the concept. As a prescription, operationism stipulates that concepts be introduced only by operational definitions–i.e., in terms of operations used to measure the concept. As a test, operationism states that concepts that cannot be given an operational definition are scientifically unacceptable. The heroic response is to sacrifice the integrative role of concepts in favor of the protection offered by strict operationism. This decision means that for each operation, a separate set of empirical laws is required to relate a concept to other variables. Strict operationism demands that a law relating two nonoperationalized variables, X, which can be measured in m ways, and Y, which can by measured in n ways, must be construed not as a single general law but as m x n separate laws. Furthermore, according to strict operationism, the m methods thought to measure X, cannot be viewed as different ways of disclosing the same magnitude. Instead, each method defines a different variable. The resulting m variables are then considered to be related by empirical laws over an observed range rather than by the fact that they all reveal some common aspect of nature (Tangdhanakanond et al 495).

S-R Learning Thesis

Critics of the S-R learning thesis argue that learning should be described instead as the acquisition of knowledge to guide behavior. This cognitive view of learning would be acceptable by behaviorist standards if “knowledge” could be shorn of its connotations of consciousness and viewed as a theoretical concept mediating between the environment and behavior With laws relating knowledge to environmental variables on the one hand, and laws relating knowledge to behavioral measures on the other, the prediction and control of behavior would be possible. In practice, however, attempts to construct a theory using knowledge as a construct do not meet these behaviorist criteria. A cognitive theory is not useful unless it specifies the relationship between knowledge and behavior, but it is precisely in this respect that theories of this type are weak. Much of the opposition to these theories stems from this failure to deduce determinate behavioral consequences from theoretical constructs. A consideration of two theories, cognitive maps and modeling, illustrates the point. A “learning operation” is a set of events resulting in a change in behavior called “learning.” A learning operation is “primitive” if a theory presents it as a given rather than deriving it from some more basic behavioral principle. Paradigms of classical and operant conditioning are examples of primitive learning operations in that they specify the temporal configuration of a set of events which result in learning, but they are, in most theories, not derived from other conditioning principles. In specifying primitive learning operations, S-R theories include a response as one of the events that must stand in a particular temporal relation with other events in order for learning to occur. The response appearing in the primitive learning operation is then the response appearing in statements about behavior deduced from this theory. The gap between the theory and behavior is easily bridged, and the deduction of behavior is determinate. The S-R solution to the problem of the response-term is not the only one. An alternative is suggested by theories of observational learning, in which learning can occur in the absence of a response through the mere observation of events. Modeling, a type of observational learning, resolves the problem of the response-term by including it in the stimuli observed. A subject learns a response merely by observing another organism (i.e., the “model’) perform the response under certain specified conditions (Leigland, 423).

The response-term in modeling theory is thus the model’s response rather than the learner’s. Because the learning operation takes place without a response on the part of the learner, theories of observational learning, such as modeling, are said to differ from S-R theories of learning. Modeling theories appear to successfully link cognitive constructs to behavior. Nevertheless, even with a modeling theory as sophisticated as Bandura’s, implicit intuitions about the reasonableness of the behaving organism intrude into derivations from the theory. Bandura frequently speaks of his cognitive construct, coded information, as “guiding” rather than determining behavior, once again opening a schism between the construct and behavior. Bandura implies that a person who observes a model’s response not only learns that response, but can also engage in other new behaviors, such as verbal reports, recognition, and understanding (Enders and Jongbloed 32).

Most S-R learning theories include principles of stimulus generalization and response induction so that changes occurring in a response class due to a learning operation can transfer to a range of similar stimuli and responses. Third, S-R theories do not assume that all learning occurs through primitive learning operations. For example, many learning operations can involve mediation and habit-family hierarchies as secondary learning principles derived from the primitive postulates. These secondary learning principles permit learning phenomena of much greater complexity than that produced by the primitive learning operations (Enders and Jongbloed 88).

Second class of objections to the S-R learning thesis stems from findings in which learning occurs even though the learned response does not occur during the learning operation. Findings of this sort come from animal experiments involving insight, latent learning, place learning, and sensory preconditioning. Similarly, observations of everyday life indicate that human adults are capable of learning as a result of a learning operation involving none of the responses learned. For example, one may acquire knowledge by reading a book and then use this knowledge months later by acting in certain ways. These new ways of acting were, in some sense, acquired as a result of reading, but they did not have to occur and be conditioned during the time of reading. A second approach is to show that the responseless learning operations are secondary learning operations derivable from primitive learning principles which do involve responses. Hull deduces the results of experiments in latent learning, place learning, and insight as derivations from his more basic learning postulates involving the learning of S-R connections (Ediger 45).

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Learning Process and Behaviorism

Observed regularities in behavior eventually give rise to empirical generalizations, which, in turn, lead to the formulation of scientific laws. Although these generalizations and laws are helpful in achieving the behaviorist goals of prediction and control of behavior, these twin goals are reached even more effectively through the creation of a theoretical system. Such a system mediates prediction and control of a variety of behaviors in a wide variety of situations, and it integrates a broad range of seemingly unrelated phenomena and laws under relatively few basic principles. Thus, a comprehensive and integrative theory uncovers coherence within the domain of the behavioral science and thereby facilitates explanation and understanding. Behaviorist doctrine holds that the empiricalness and objectivity of theoretical concepts are to be achieved by linking these concepts to the behavioral data language. However, as this linkage becomes more remote, empiricalness and objectivity are jeopardized. Hypothetical constructs, having the most tenuous ties, are the most at risk. Behaviorist restrictions on the nature of these constructs help to ensure that hypotheses containing them are at least testable. Even with these restrictions, however, the anchoring of these constructs in the behavioral data language is indirect. One model of the nature of this anchoring is that of correspondence rules (Dockrell 51).

In learning, training will need effective leadership and management policies to ensure its success and positive outcomes. The main methods used by leaders will be result-based leadership method and the leadership. If too much stress is placed on getting the work done, human motivation will suffer (Malhotra, 1996). The main strategies applied to the program will be motivation and inspiring estudents, cooperation and support initiatives. If all of the emphasis is placed on workers satisfaction, then productivity will suffer. Further, a leader can share this expertise with other teachers and students, so that the total organization expands and articulates its images of the future in preparation for that future (Dockrell 88).

Perceptions of media attributes are socially constructed through information exchange. This construction may result from, and result in, behavioral patterns of use, co-worker influences, organizational norms, or culture of media use. For example, if a particular organization has established a tradition of using electronic mail to discuss research and development (R&D) related problems, it becomes a norm based on repeated patterns of use. Since the environment and social interactions vary between organizations, media selection varies between organizational contexts. Given these variations, communication technology at Apple and IBM not only is adopted because of its invariant features, speed of communication – but also because of individual attitudes or group norms towards communication technologies (Dockrell 51).

Thus use of learning principles is based on reciprocity: the outputs of one user are the inputs of another. Individuals contribute to the collective outcome of universal access through their readiness to reciprocate communication. Second, the use of communication technology by members of an organization creates a public good that is independent of the efforts of individuals, but in order to create this public good, a critical mass of users is necessary. This intuitive argument is consistent with current media choice theories, which argue that social norms of communication technology use develop over time; benefits associated with these technologies become more apparent over time, and knowledge workers’ expertise in using communication technology increases (Ediger, 179).

Originating from the social information processing perspective and introduced into the media choice debate, the theory proposes that social relationships influence perceived media characteristics, perceived communication task requirements, attitudes towards communication, and media use. Essentially, the authors suggest that while communication requirements may differ, similar patterns of media attitudes and use will develop within groups and different patterns across groups. The last group of researchers proposes that characteristics inherent in the knowledge worker affect an individual’s choice of a medium. In addition, memos, non-computer reports and unscheduled meetings also provided support in handling disturbances, and periodicals and scheduled meetings for making improvements. In the role of resource allocator and negotiator, teachers did not show any preference for a particular medium. These findings indicate that teachers made use of various media for the different roles. No specific media were found to be better suited for particular teacherial roles (Enders and Jongbloed 55). Behaviorism explains important factors of mind development and perceptions processes during learning and comprehension process, and helps to establish clear patterns of information acquisition.


The context of education environment influences attitudes and perception of students. Thus context-dependent factors explain situations in which rational choices of media are foregone. Context-dependent approaches and context-independent approaches of media choice complement each other in explaining the adoption of new communication technology. From a context-independent perspective, other people and their use influence an individual’s behavior by changing the benefits and costs associated with using the communication technology. More workers using a communication technology increases the utility of a system by expanding the number of people with whom it is possible to communicate. At the same time, an increased number of users has the negative effect of interruptions, thus decreasing the utility of the communication technology. With each user, not only the utility of the communication system changes but the associated norms surrounding the technology may also change. in education, behaviorism helps to explain the main principles of leaning and cognition among difverse student groups.

Works Cited

Allday, R. Allan. Prisoner Perceptions of Effective Teacher Behavior. Education & Treatment of Children, 29 (2006), 729.

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Dockrell, Julie, Smith, Leslie, Tomlinson, Dr Peter and Peter Tomlinson. Piaget, Vygotsky & Beyond: Central Issues in Developmental Psychology and Education. Routledge, 1997.

Ediger, Marlow Present Day Philosophies of Education. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33 (2006). 179.

Enders, J., Jongbloed, W. Public-Private Dynamics in Higher Education: Expectations, Developments and Outcomes. Transcript Verlag, Roswitha Gost, 2006.

Leigland, Sam. Radical Behaviorism and the Clarification of Causality, Constructs, and Confusions: A Reply to Hayes, Adams, and Dixon. The Psychological Record, 48 (1998), 423.

Tangdhanakanond, Kamonwan. Pitiyanuwat, Somwung Archwamety, Teara. Assessment of Achievement and Personal Qualities under Constructionist Learning Environment. Education, 126 (2006), 495.

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