Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Study on Behaviorism

This week I read two chapters in the text Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works about reinforcement and practice (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  I found that sometimes, students aren't aware that it's important to give your best effort in classes of use excuses form outside contributors as reasons to be a potential failure.  As an educator, it's important to me that my students succeed.  If they come to class with an attitude that they've already failed, it will be much harder for them to give their best effort on class projects.  Even though my art and music classes run on a constructivism/constructionism combination of educational theories, there are aspects of behaviorism I did not consider that can be used to encourage my students to succeed.

If you take a quick look at my previous post, you fill find the new classroom management scale that I found through some blog searching, and I am implementing in my classroom next week.  This chart is designed with a behaviorist strategy in mind rewarding students for positive behavior, but still warning students with consequences for their actions.  After watching Dr. Orey's video (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011) this week and his discussion on how his son's classroom used a "clip chart" to manage behavior, I realized how much more important it is to reinforce the positive behaviors, which is exactly what the new chart has in place.  There are consequences, but I believe students need to know the realism of consequences for their actions for their real-world application.

Behaviorism can also be found in drills and practices for homework purposes or remediation.  Tutorials are also considered to fall into this category, and an excellent online tutorial that can be used in the elementary art classroom comes from Eric Carle's website showing how he makes his artwork.  This tutorial is doubly useful at my school as students read a story by Eric Carle in their regular education classrooms in second grade, so I can reinforce what they are learning in my art classes at that time as we create his style of artwork.

For music, drills are a traditional way to practice.  There are some excellent iPad apps to do just this, and one is Musicroom: Music Theory for Beginners which can be found on the app store for $2.99.  It provides students with quick lessons followed by quizzes over that skill, but it throws in cute and colorful music and characters that keeps students more engaged than many books I have tried.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program four: Behaviorist learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction 
that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. I too have a classroom that is more reflective of constructionist educational theories yet was able to find merit in some behavioral theories as well. The classroom management scale that you discovered goes a long way in rewarding positive behaviors. Too often it is much too easy to ignore all of the correct behaviors that our students display on a regular basis. We, as a society, tend to forget that positive reinforcement is just as powerful as negative reinforcement.

    As for your drill and practice observations, again I agree that behaviorist tendencies get overlooked as instructional strategies. As a former music student, I would have enjoyed being able to practice my music with cute and colorful characters that keep my interest level high. Technology certainly has come a long way in enhancing the learning experience.

    1. Thanks! I look forward to implementing this new classroom management model with art room modifications soon. I'm still working out the details, but I would like to add some constructionist aspects to it somehow to encourage my students to problem solve their way through issues that arise. Lately, I've found my students asking some of the silliest questions when they already know the answers. I know part of that is wanting attention, but sometimes I feel they just don't want to think for themselves and I want to encourage as much independence as possible.

  2. You mention using a new classroom management tool with your students. You are not alone in adding behavioral modifications to the classroom. My son's preschool used a bee on the board, the child's bee had to leave the hive if the child didn't follow instruction. That type of behavioral modification helps the younger students learn what is acceptable behavior in school and what is not. As the students get older, like my students in High School, behavior modifications continue; this is why they have after school detentions and Saturday school - similar to the bee leaving the hive.

    Teaching art and music lends itself to creativity and constructive formats, building one level at a time.Your inclusion of Eric Carle's, one of my favorite story tellers, art work in your classroom is such a great idea of teaching across the curriculum. I'm sure the students find much enjoyment in his art work and use some of his techniques in what they are building in class. Nice Work!

    1. Eric Carle is amazing, and I love how he opens up his art to aspiring students. His techniques always end up with unique and colorful results that leave my students proud of their work.