Psychological Learning Theories There Are Essay

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Thus instrumental condition would rely on the notion that a person generates a response rather than an environmental stimulus. I have found that both people and stimulus may elicit certain behaviors both in and outside of the classroom.

Instrumental conditioning is modeled after animal experiments which showed that the individual's environment can reinforce response controls, thus the best responses occur when reinforcement of a particular behavior is given. This I have learned to be the case in the classroom most assuredly, where students are more likely to exhibit positive behaviors more frequently when they are reinforced immediately for demonstrating positive behaviors. Generally the patterns that emerge from such conditioning are self-directed, meaning that I have found that most students engage in behaviors and continue to engage in behaviors which they find result in a positive response regardless of the environment they are placed in.

With regard to controlling adverse behavior, instrumental conditioning has proven most effective in my personal teaching experiences. Usually instrumental conditioning can be used interchangeably with classical conditioning. However in instrumental conditioning the reward is determined by the behavior; meaning the results of ones behavior generally determine whether or not their behavior is more or less likely to occur in the future (Klein, 2002).

A often implemented both conditioning techniques within the classroom to encourage students to repeat positive behaviors that would result in the best possible outcome for both the student and myself.

Most psychological theorists suggest that human behavior stems from stimulus, in a classroom setting the supposition is that behavior stems from learning specifically (Chang, 1998). People aren't naturally born with the ability to know how to behave, rather they learn how to behave based on unconscious and conscious activity that is influenced by certain stimuli (Chang, 1998).

Animal studies of cognition and behavior patterns have generally demonstrated that random behavior is very different from organized behavior, which usually comes about from the desire or memory of a positive end or result of a behavior, which conditions the animal to repeat the behavior to again receive the reward associated with a particular behavior (Chang, 1998).

Pavlov, considered the Father of "learning theory" was among the first theorists to discover the relationship that exists between stimulus and responses (Chang, 1998) and thus is credited with the creation of classical conditioning theories (Chang, 1998). In the classroom I have learned that student learners are indeed for the most part passive, as they do not necessarily control the "emission of the response" rather they require reinforcement in order to exhibit desired behaviors (Chang, 1998).

Thorndike more of the instrumental conditioning school of thought examined the effect of punishment on animal as well as the relationship between association. He found hat as the association or connection between an object and successful responses became more evident, the animal involved in the experiment is more likely to engage in successful behaviors (Chang, 1998). He found that punishment and other forms of negative reinforcement are much less successful than positive ones (Chang, 1998). This is due in part to the notion that the association a person makes (or in the case of the experiments an animal receives) in a negative situation is diminished.

I have definitely found this theory practical in the classroom, and consistently use positive reinforcement to elicit productivity and positive behaviors from students. Generally it seems that most students learn based on a number of factors, therefore a number of techniques can be implemented successfully in the learning environment to influence both motivation, learning and the likelihood for a positive outcome.


Chang, Min-Yu S. (1998). "Learning Theory and Advertising." CIA Advertising. 23,

October 2004, Available:

Klein, S.B. (2002). "Principles and Applications of Appetitive Conditioning." Mississippi

State University. McGraw Hill. Education. 22, October, 2004, Available:

Parish, T.S., Maly, J. & Shirzai, a. (1975- Oct). 41(2):651-8

Tauber, Robert T. (1999). "Classroom Management: Sound Theory and Effective

Practice." Westport, Bergin Garvey.

Williman, D. (2004). "Instrumental Conditioning." From, Skinner, B.F. (1990,

November). "Can Psychology be a Science of Mind?" American Psychologist, 45: 1206-1210. 22, October 2004, Available:[continue]

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