I am one and a half weeks into another class in my “Technology in the Classroom” Masters program. This class is called “Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology” and I am excited because it looks to be a good review of learning theories that I haven’t revisited since my undergraduate program and it also will address how to support best teaching and learning practices with the latest in technological resources.
This week’s resources dealt mainly with the behaviorist learning theory, which basically states that learning occurs when a certain behavior is rewarded or reinforced (also called operant conditioning). On the other hand, punishment decreases the likelihood that a behavior/learning will reoccur. I believe, as does Dr. Orey (Laureate, 2011), that positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment in achieving and maintaining a positive, successful, classroom atmosphere.
Other resources I read this week also correlate to the principles of this learning theory. In chapter 8 of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works”, the authors discuss and suggest the use of spreadsheet software or other data collection tools (such as Survey Monkey) to track effort and achievement in the classroom (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). I do explicitly teach my students about the importance of effort, along with a number of other important learner attributes and attitudes. I have been looking more into how growth and performance in this area (particularly in behavior and work habits) can be tracked over time for positive reinforcement. Recently, I have become aware of a free online program called “Class Dojo (classdojo.com)” that I would like to try. It is a behavior management software program that helps teachers keep track of various desired behaviors and provides instant recognition in class. There is a shorter time between an action and feedback, which leads to greater reinforcement.
I also agree with the authors of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works” that assigned homework and skill practice should be purposeful, focused on specific elements, and supported with feedback from the teacher (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). I have been experimenting this year with various online programs that I think fulfill these requirements and have had various levels of success with them. One of the most effective programs I have found so far has been Khan Academy (khanacademy.org). It is a engaging program that covers subject from math to history. Students receive positive reinforcement by earning points and badges. My students have really enjoyed this program and I have seen significant improvements in effort and learning with its use in the classroom and at home.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program four: Behaviorist learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved fromhttp://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.