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Psychology Applied to Teaching, Eleventh Edition
Jack Snowman, Southern Illinois University
Robert Biehler
Chapter Themes
Chapter 7: Behavioral Learning Theory: Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is one learning theory that attempts to explain how behaviors are learned.
The theory of operant conditioning asserts that learning is the strengthening or weakening of voluntary responses through the use of consequences. Reinforcement strengthens the occurrence of voluntary responses while punishment weakens the occurrence of voluntary responses.

Operant conditioning, although less popular today, has a wide range of educational applications.
Operant conditioning techniques such as behavior modification, shaping, token economies, and the application of the Premack principle are strategies that educators can use to strengthen the occurrence of desirable student behaviors and/or weaken the occurrence of undesirable student behaviors. In addition to these techniques, operant conditioning theory also offers some valuable insight into the scheduling, continuous or intermittent, of reinforcements and punishments.

Computer assisted instruction uses key ideas from behavioral learning theories to facilitate learning.
Computer-based instruction (CBI) is a proven technique to facilitate learning. Computer use in the classroom generally falls into one of three categories: (1) drill-and-practice or tutorials; (2) learning and problem solving tools; and (3) programming tools. These three categories of CBI have proven to be useful resources for the teacher and the students. However, they are not meant to replace the teacher.




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