The contribution of behavioural theories of learning to education

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Ng’andu, Sophie Kasonde
Haambokoma, Nicholas M.
Milingo, Tomaida L. C.
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The University Of Zambia School of Education
The paper focuses on behavioural theories of learning. The theory of behaviourist concentrates on the study of overt behaviours that can be observed and measured. Some key founding fathers of behaviourist theory such as Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, and Skinner are given their deserved attention in the paper. In terms of Pavlov, discussion centres on his best known work on classical conditioning or stimulus substitution. Recognition is also granted to Thorndike’s application of "methods of exact science" to educational problems by emphasizing his "accurate quantitative treatment of information". It will be shown that Watson employed Pavlov's ideas in some of his works. The premise of his behaviouristic psychology proposes that all behaviour is established through stimulus-response associations through conditioning. Like Pavlov, Watson and Thorndike, it will be shown that Skinner believed in the stimulus-response pattern of conditioned behaviour and completely ignored the possibility of any processes occurring in the mind. His behaviouristic insights on the principles of operant conditioning in social institutions, of which education is not an exception, are also explored. Among the major contributions the theory of behaviourist has made to education are; the provision of behavioural objectives to the instructional process, the importance of the creation of favourable environments for learning, the enhancement of the ‘behaviour modification’ technique to the educational process, assessment in schools, the ‘drill and practice’ technique as a behavioural teaching methodology, the control of the learning environment through the right use of behavioural reinforcement techniques, the teaching of lesson content that is more 'life-like' and the restoration of self-esteem in maladjusted children in academic contexts.
Behavioral Theories--Education --Zambia