Understanding Learning Theory
Learning Theory and Research Changes in LearningLearning Styles

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Summary of the Behaviorist Model

To summarize some of the main differences between these two approaches, look first at the behaviorist approach.

In the behaviorist model, the learners have a passive role in learning - it's the instructor who has the most control over the learning environment and subsequent learning that takes place. The instructor's role is to arrange the environment so that the learners will respond correctly more often and make errors less often. Instructors control learning by rewarding correct responses and punishing or ignoring incorrect responses. Self-paced programmed instruction is an instructional application of the behaviorist approach.

The behaviorist influence is strongest today in the areas of classroom management and organization (Svinicki, 1999). Its impact is also seen in the emphasis on writing course objectives in clearly observable and measurable ways. You can learn more about how to write clear course objectives in the Course Design Module.

To learn more about the behaviorist model, visit these sites:

An Overview to the Behavioral Perspective, William Huitt of Valdosta State University, Educational Psychology Interactive Course Listings

The Psi Café, a Psychology Resource Center

An Educational Psychology Tutorial of the Behavioral Approach developed by Margaret Anderson at Cortland College

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