The instance, and subsequently reinforced over time; the

The ideas of behaviorism have their roots in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. John B.Watson is believed to have first used the term ‘behaviourism’. Behaviourism is based around the central notion of a reaction being made to a particular stimulus (Pritchard, A 2009). Basically, this relationship has described the most complex learning situations. At its simplest, we can observe behavior, which we can refer to as ‘learnt behavior’, in a wide range of diverse situations (Pritchard, A 2009). For example, a performing seal will respond to a particular stimulus – the sound of a hooter or the presentation of a fish – by raising itself up and slapping its flippers together as if clapping. This feature is also noticeable in humans. In circumstances where an immediate response is required, practice situations are repeated endlessly so that the engineer, doctor or scientist will make the correct, possibly life-saving response in a given situation. These responsive practices have been underlined in more recent years and explained in terms of the reinforcement of particular neural pathways in the brain (Pritchard, A 2009). This response will be made if the connection between the stimulus and response has been built correctly in the first instance, and subsequently reinforced over time; the associated neural pathways have been practiced and strengthened. Behaviourism is based upon the simple notion of a relationship between a stimulus and a response, which is why behaviorist theories are often referred to as ‘stimulus-response’ (SR) theories. Behaviourism in the classroom can be applied to have clear ideas of behaviors to be encouraged and reinforced. These behaviors could be either related to general or educational content. In a classroom environment, the professor identifies the behaviors that are desirable and the ones that would be best discouraged. The influential McBer Report (DfEE 2000b) tells us that an effective teacher ‘uses rewards to influence behavior and performance positively’.


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