Chapter 6 – Behaviour Views of Learning
• Learning Process through which experience causes permanent change in knowledge or
o Deliberate or unintentional
o experiences – by the interaction of a person with their environment
o the changes resulting from learning take place in the individual’s knowledge or
• Behavioural learning theories Explanations of learning that focus on external events as
the cause of changes in observable behaviours.
Neuroscience of Behavioural Learning
• parts of the cerebellum are involved in simple reflex learning
Early Explanations of Learning: Contiguity and Classical Conditioning
• Aristotle we remember things together (1) when they are similar, (2) when they
contrast, and (3) when they are contiguous.
o Contiguity Association of two events because of repeated pairing; whenever
two or more sensations occur together often enough, they will become
included in all explanations of learning by association
Later, when only one of these sensations (a stimulus) occurs, the other
will be remembered too (a response)
• Classical conditioning – Association of automatic responses with new stimuli; ocuses on
the learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses
o Ie. fear, increased muscle tension, salivation, or sweating – respondents
(automatic responses to stimuli)
o Pavlov’s dogs
• It is possible that many of our emotional reactions to situations are learned in part
through classical conditioning
• White coat syndrome people whose blood pressure (an involuntary response) goes up
when it is tested in the doctor’s office, usually by someone in a white coat.
Operant Conditioning: Trying New Responses
• Operants Voluntary (and generally goaldirected) behaviours emitted by a person or an
• Operant conditioning Learning in which voluntary behaviour is strengthened or
weakened by consequences or antecedents.
o B.F. Skinner
• Environmental influences that precede behaviour (antecedents), the behaviour, and then
environmental influences that follow the behaviour (consequences)
Types of Consequences
• consequences determine to a great extent whether a person will repeat the behaviour that
led to the consequences.
Reinforcement Use of consequences to strengthen behaviour. • Reinforcer Any event that follows a behaviour and increases the chances that the
behaviour will occur again.
• Positive reinforcement Strengthening behaviour by presenting a desired stimulus after
o When the consequence that strengthens a behaviour is the appearance (addition)
of a new stimulus, the situation is defined as positive reinforcement.
• Negative reinforcement Strengthening behaviour by removing an aversive stimulus
when the behaviour occurs.
o when the consequence that strengthens a behaviour is the disappearance
(subtraction) of a stimulus,
o If a particular action leads to avoiding or escaping an aversive situation, the
action is likely to be repeated in a similar situation
Punishment Process that weakens or suppresses behaviour.
• decreasing or suppressing behaviour.
• behaviour followed by a punisher is less likely to be repeated in similar situations in the
• Presentation punishment Decreasing the chances that a behaviour will occur again by
presenting an aversive stimulus following the behaviour; also called Type I punishment.
o when the appearance of a stimulus following the behaviour suppresses or
decreases the behaviour.
• Removal punishment – Decreasing the chances that a behaviour will occur again by
removing a pleasant stimulus following the behaviour; also called Type II punishment.
• will learn faster if they are reinforced for every correct response ▯Continuous
reinforcement schedule (Presenting a reinforce after every appropriate response)
• Intermittent reinforcement schedule Presenting a reinforcer after some but not all
o Interval schedule – Reinforcement schedule based on the length of time between
o Ratio schedule – Reinforcement schedule based on the number of responses
Interval and ratio schedules can be either fixed (predictable) or variable
• Reinforcement schedules influence how persistently we will respond when reinforcement
Table 6.1 Reinforcement Schedules
• In classical conditioning, the conditioned response is extinguished (disappears) when the
conditioned stimulus appears but the unconditioned stimulus does not follow
• In operant conditioning, a person or an animal will not persist in a certain behaviour if the
usual reinforce is withheld long enough
• Extinction The disappearance of a learned response.
Antecedents and Behaviour Change • Antecedents provide information about which behaviours will lead to positive
consequences and which will lead to unpleasant ones.
• Stimulus control Capacity for the presence or absence of antecedents to cause
Effective Instruction Delivery (EID) Instructions that are concise, clear, and specific, and that
communicate an expected result are more effective. Statements work better than questions.
Cueing Providing an antecedent stimulus that “sets up” a desired behaviour.
Prompt A reminder that follows a cue to make sure a person reacts to the cue.
• two principles for using a cue and a prompt to teach a new behaviour:
1. make sure the environmental stimulus that you want to become a cue occurs
immediately before the prompt you are using, so students will learn to respond to
the cue and not rely only on the prompt.
2. fade the prompt as soon as possible so students do not become dependent on it
Applied Behaviour Analysis
• Applied behaviour analysis – The application of behavioural learning principles to
understand and change behaviour.
o ABAB design researchers take a baseline measurement of the behaviour (A),
then apply the intervention (B), then stop the intervention to see if the behaviour
goes back to the baseline level (A), and then reintroduce the intervention (B).
• Behaviour modification Systematic application of antecedents and consequences to
Methods for Encouraging Behaviours
• To encourage behaviour is to reinforce it
Reinforcing with Teacher Attention
• psychologists advise teachers to “accentuate the positive” –ignoring misbehaviour
• differential reinforcement ignoring inappropriate behaviours, while being reinforcing
appropriate behaviours as soon as they occur
• praiseandignore approach
o studies have shown that disruptive behaviours persist when teachers use positive
consequences (mostly praise) as their only classroom management strategy
o praise must
1. be contingent on the behaviour to be reinforced
2. specify clearly the behaviour being reinforced
3. be believable
o praise should be sincere recognition of a welldefined behaviour so students
understand what they did to warrant the recognition
Selecting Reinforcers: The Premack Principle
• by making privileges and rewards directly contingent on learning and positive behaviour,
the teacher can greatly increase both learning and desired behaviour.
• Premack principle – Principle stating that a morepreferred activity can serve as a
reinforcer for a lesspreferred activity (David Premack) o Grandma’s Rule – first do what I want you to do, then you may do what you want
o For the Premack principle to be effective, the lowfrequency (lesspreferred)
behaviour must happen first.
Shaping Reinforcing each small step of progress toward a desired goal or behaviour.
• Also called successive approximations – Small components that make up a complex
• reinforcing progress instead of waiting for perfect behaviour to occur before providing
• Task analysis System for breaking down a task hierarchically into basic skills and
Positive Practice Practising correct responses immediately after errors
• Students replace one behaviour with another
Handling Undesirable Behaviour
• If a behaviour stops or avoids something unpleasant, then that behaviour is likely to occur
again in similar situations
• There are several rules for using negative reinforcement effectively:
o Describe the desired change in a positive way.
o Don’t bluff.
o Make sure you can enforce your unpleasant situation.
o Follow through despite complaints.
o Insist on action, not promises.
o If the unpleasant situation ends when students promise to be better next time, you
have reinforced making promises, not making changes
Reprimands Criticisms for misbehaviour; rebukes.
• Soft, calm, private reprimands are more effective than loud, public reprimands in
decreasing disruptive behaviour
Response Cost Punishment by loss of reinforcers.
Time out (social isolation) isolation of a student from the rest of the class for a brief time.
• 510 minutes
Some Cautions About Punishment
• Punishment by itself does not work – tells children to stop, but doesn’t teach them what
to do instead
• When considering punishment:
o carry out the punishment and suppress the undesirable behaviour
o make clear what the student should be doing instead and to provide
reinforcement for those desirable actions.
• punishment works best when the potential punisher—the teacher—is around.
Putting it All Together: Behavioural Approaches to Teaching and Management • practice makes permanent the behaviours practised, so practising accurate behaviours is
• Good behaviour game Arrangement where a class is divided into teams an