Behaviorism and Developments in Instructional Design and Technology

Behaviorism and Developments in Instructional Design and Technology

Irene Chen (University of Houston Downtown, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch023
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Abstract

The theory of behaviorism concentrates on the study of overt behaviors that can be observed and measured (Good & Brophy, 1990). In general, the behavior theorists view the mind as a “black box” in the sense that response to stimulus can be observed quantitatively, ignoring the possibility of thought processes occurring in the mind. Behaviorists believe that learning takes place as the result of a response that follows on a specific stimulus. By repeating the S-R (stimulus-response) cycle, the organism (may it be an animal or human) is conditioned into repeating the response whenever the same stimulus is present. The behavioral emphasis on breaking down complex tasks, such as learning to read, into subskills that are taught separately, has a powerful influence on instructional design. Behaviors can be modified, and learning is measured by observable change in behavior. The behavior theorists emphasize the need of objectivity, which leads to great accentuation of statistical and mathematical analysis.
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Introduction: The Basics Of Behaviorism

The theory of behaviorism concentrates on the study of overt behaviors that can be observed and measured (Good & Brophy, 1990). In general, the behavior theorists view the mind as a "black box" in the sense that response to stimulus can be observed quantitatively, ignoring the possibility of thought processes occurring in the mind. Behaviorists believe that learning takes place as the result of a response that follows on a specific stimulus. By repeating the S-R (stimulus-response) cycle, the organism (may it be an animal or human) is conditioned into repeating the response whenever the same stimulus is present. The behavioral emphasis on breaking down complex tasks, such as learning to read, into subskills that are taught separately, has a powerful influence on instructional design. Behaviors can be modified, and learning is measured by observable change in behavior. The behavior theorists emphasize the need of objectivity, which leads to great accentuation of statistical and mathematical analysis. The design principles introduced by the behavior theorists continue to guide the development of today's computer-based learning. In distance-education courseware and instructional software, key behavior-modification principles are used. For example, a typical course Web site usually states the objectives of the software; uses text, visual, or audio to apply appropriate reinforcers; provides repetition and immediate feedback; uses principles to shape, chain, model, punish, and award the learners; incorporates a scoring system as a part of the system; and provides status of the progress of the learner. Major learning theorists associated with behaviorism are the following:

  • Pavlov

  • Thorndike

  • Skinner

  • Watson

  • GagnA(c)

The major educational technology developments in America that can be attributed to behaviorism are the following:

  • The behavioral objectives movement

  • The teaching machine phase

  • The programmed instruction movement

  • The individualized instructional approaches

  • The computer-assisted learning

  • The systems approach to instruction

Major instructional design theorists associated with behaviorism are as follows:

  • Glaser

  • GagnA(c) and Briggs

  • Dick and Carey

  • Mager

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Background: Behaviorism And Learning Theories

The advent of behavioral theories can be traced back to the elder Sophists of ancient Greece, Cicero, Herbart, and Spencer (Saettler, 1990). Behaviorism, as a learning theory, can be traced back to Aristotle, whose essay "Memory" focused on associations being made between events such as lightning and thunder. Other philosophers that followed Aristotle's thoughts are Hobbes (1650), Hume (1740), Brown (1820), Bain (1855), and Ebbinghause (1885). Franklin Bobbitt developed the modern concept of behavioral objectives in the early 1900s. More recently, the names associated with the development of the behaviorist theory include Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, and B. F. Skinner.

Key Terms in this Chapter

The Schedules of Reinforcement: The schedules of reinforcement can govern the contingency between responses and reinforcement and their effects on establishing and maintaining behavior. Schedules that depend on the number of responses made are called ratio schedules. The ratio of the schedule is the number of responses required per reinforcement. If the contingency between responses and reinforcement depends on time, the schedule is called an interval schedule.

Classical Conditioning: The Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov is the precursor to behavioral science. He is best known for his work in classical conditioning or stimulus substitution. Pavlov’s experiment involved food, a dog, and a bell. His work inaugurated the era of S-R psychology. Pavlov placed meat powder (an unconditioned stimulus) on a dog’s tongue, which caused the dog to automatically salivate (the unconditioned response). The unconditioned responses are natural and not learned. On a series of subsequent trials, Pavlov sounded a bell at the same time he gave the meat powder to the dog. When the food was accompanied by the bell many times, Pavlov found that he could withhold the food, and the bell’s sound itself would cause the dog to salivate.

Skinner Box: Most of Skinner’s research was centered around the Skinner box. A Skinner box is an experimental space that contains one or more operands such as a lever that may be pressed by a rat. The box also contained various sources of stimuli. Skinner contributed much to the study of operant conditioning, which is a change in the probability of a response due to an event that followed the initial response. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual’s response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. In his early career, Skinner started with experimenting with animals such as pigeons and rats. He later turned his research interests from animals to humans, especially his own daughters.

Operant Conditioning: Skinner contributed much to the study of operant conditioning, which is a change in the probability of a response due to an event that followed the initial response. The theory of Skinner is based on the idea that learning is a function of change in behavior. When a particular S-R pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual’s response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. Principles and Mechanisms of Skinner’s Operant Conditioning include: Positive Reinforcement or Reward, Negative Reinforcement, Punishment, and Extinction or Nonreinforcement.

Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI): During the 1950s, CAI was first used in education, and training, with early work, was done by IBM. The mediation of instruction entered the computer age in the 1960s when Patrick Suppes and Richard Atkinson conducted their initial investigations into CAI in mathematics and reading. Developed through a systematic analysis of curriculum, Suppes’ (1979) CAI provided learner feedback, branching, and response tracking. CAI grew rapidly in the 1960s, when federal funding for research and development in education and industrial laboratories was implemented.

Instructional Objectives: A description of a performance you want learners to be able to exhibit before you consider them competent. An objective describes an intended result of instruction rather than the process of instruction itself.

Keller Plan: The Keller Plan (sometimes called Keller Method, personalized system of instruction or PSI), individually prescribed instruction (IPI), program for learning in accordance with needs (PLAN), and individually guided education are all examples of individualized instruction. The Keller Plan was developed by F. S. Keller, his colleague J. Gilmore Sherman, and two psychologists at the University of Brazilia. The Keller Plan is derived from the behaviorists reinforcement psychology with influence from teaching machines and programmed instructions.

Teaching Machines: B. F. Skinner is the most current and probably the best-known advocate of teaching machines. Other contributors to this movement include Pressey and Crowder. Noticing that objective tests were becoming common in schools, in the 1920s, Pressey began experimenting with a machine for testing and scoring in his introductory psychology courses. Soon he recognized its potential for teaching and learning. Despite his confidence that the machine he developed would lead to an "industrial revolution in education," this type of machine was never widely used.u

Programmed Instruction: Sometimes called programmed learning, programmed instruction is a book or workbook that employs the principles proposed by Skinner in his design of the teaching machine, with a special emphasis on task analysis and reinforcement for correct responses.

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