Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

In Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works I explored many strategies that embed technology and relate to the behaviorist learning theory. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski (2007) gave the example of using www.survey to collect data that you could use to encourage students to try harder. The objective of the survey was to connect effort with achievement (p.162). With some inspiration from our text, I used to create a survey similar to Figures 8.6 and 8.7 (p.163) on place a link on my wiki. I discussed with my students both before and after the survey that they are responsible for their learning. I wanted my students to think about taking more responsibility and after reviewing the data of the survey, clearly they do not feel this way. The almost immediate feedback from this survey gave me some ideas on helping students become more responsible students. At the beginning of each quarter of the school year, I will set goals with my students in every class I teach (change my student’s behavior). I need to spend more time teaching my students study skills, testing taking skills, and constantly practice to acquire skills.

Another example of a strategy that uses technology and relates to the behaviorist learning theory is web resources. The text list many sites that give students the opportunity to learn through repetition. I played “Wizards and Pigs” and found out that this game neatly teaches students alliteration, rhyming, and free verse (p.197). I played this game and found behaviorism throughout the course of this game. The more skills you master the more you are rewarded with keys and potions. The game features some animation and great speech synthesis. The ability to learn some difficult concepts and have fun is the best part of this site. I will definitely use this as part of my poetry unit next year.

In our text both chapter eight, “Reinforcing Effort” and in chapter ten, “Homework and Practice” the authors give some great strategies that show behaviorism in practice with technology. I learned that free survey tools can really help me help my students improve their ability to improve themselves as students. I also found some new ways to give my students activities that help reinforce their skills with the reward of having fun while learning. Behaviorism may be described as the “red headed step-child” of the learning theories by Dr. Orey (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) but it is alive and well thanks to technology being integrated in to education.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 4. Behaviorist learning theory. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

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


  1. Craig,

    I am impressed with your rapid implementation of some of the suggestions included in the text. Survey Monkey is a wonderful tool for collecting data and information. I am sure that you will be able to learn a great deal from your students' responses and that repeating the survey at different points of the year will provide them with a new perspective of their ability to impact their grades. As a math person, I see this information being shared with the students in a graphic manner so that they can literally see the relationship between effort and achievement. What are your plans for further using this new found information?


  2. Craig,

    I enjoyed your story about using the survey online to get a feel of how your students feel regarding their responsibility in their own learning. I think I understood you correctly, but it sounds like the students don't share your feelings? I have new trimester coming in about a week, and I plan to do something similar to what you detailed like setting goals for your students.

    On another note, I am checking out the SurveyMonkey site for future use in my class academically. I think that using these surveys is great in the way you used it. But it could also be used in getting student opinions on topics they might not want to share in front of the class. I do surveys sometimes but I do them on paper in class. And we can't immediately reflect on the results because it takes awhile to manually tally the results.

    Thanks for your story and advice, it was helpful!

  3. Nancy and R.J.,

    Most of my students feel that they do not need to study very much for tests and I am trying to convince them that if they spend more time on their studies, they will be more successful in school.

    The reason for the survey was that my fifth and sixth grade team was frustrated with the amount of late work and lack of test preparation. It was a coincidence that in our resources that the SurveyMonkey idea came up, and I tried it. SurveyMonkey is incredibly easy, free, and provides great data. I will use it again.

    Good Luck,