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Behaviourism And Behaviour Management

Behaviourists trust that the aim of training is to cater learners with the capture repertory of responses to particular stimuli.Welsh Assembly. (2010). Practical Approaches to Behaviour Management in the Classroom. Cardiff: Welsh Assembly Government.Bartlett, S., & Burton, D. (2012). Introduction to Education Studies, 3rd Edition. London: Sage.

Third, it is suggested that the ABC attack emphasises that the minor’s behavior takes post inside a finical setting and that their behavior is both influenced by the surroundings and that their deportment influences what happens adjacent in the schoolroom. Last, this approaching provides links ‘tween the recognition of unsuitable behavior, an account for why it occurs, and potential strategies for ever-changing the deportment.

Weare, K. (2004). Development the Emotionally Literate Schooling. London: Paul Chapman.

Martella, R.C., Nelson, J.R., Marchand-Martella, N.E., & O’Reilly, M. (2012).Comp Conduct Direction: Individualised, schoolroom, and schoolwide approaches, 2nd Version. London: Salvia.

DfE (Section for Instruction). (2011). Acquiring the uncomplicated things rectify: Charlie Taylor’s conduct checklists. Retrieved from (Accessed October 1, 2015).

Skinner, B.F. (1976) About Behaviourism, New York: Vintage Books.

Behaviourism as a method of teaching and learning content has received considerable criticism in recent years and has generally fallen out of favour, not least because of its disregard of what goes on within a learner’s head and its rejection of the importance of the mental processes the learner engages in (Bartlett and Burton, 2012). However, in the field of behaviour management, behaviourism is still an important influence and a number of behaviour management approaches and techniques draw from this field of psychology.

Merrett, F., & Wheldall, K. (2012). British teachers and the behavioural approach to teaching. In Wheldall. K. (Ed.). The Behaviourist in the Classroom, pp. 18-49. London: Routledge.

Vialle, W., Lysaght, P., & Verenikina, I. (2005).Psychology for Educators. London: Cengage Learning.

Kearney, A. (2007). Understanding Applied Behaviour Analysis: An introduction to ABA for parents, teachers, and other professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Canter, L., & Canter, M. (1992).AssertiveDiscipline. Santa Monica: LeeCanterAssociates.

Wragg, E.C. (2001). Class Management in the Secondary School. London: Routledge.

Garner, P. (2009). Special Educational Needs: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.


While behaviourism continues to exert an influence over behaviour management techniques in today’s schools, it has also been criticised for its limitations. Some of these criticisms derive from the incorrect application of the approach. Martella et al. (2012), for example, suggest that behaviourist approaches to dealing with disruptive behaviour such as assertive discipline are often misused in practice as teachers often neglect the praise components and move straight to the punishments. As such, bad behaviour is being reinforced through the negative attention the learners receive and good behaviour is not being reinforced.

Roffey, S. (2006). Helping with Behaviour. London: Routledge.

Behaviourist principles can also be used to help understand disruptive behaviour once it occurs. From a behaviourist perspective, the understanding of disruptive behaviour does not require any consideration of the learner’s internal mental states or consciousness as it is believed that states such as belief, motivation, and satisfaction can be understood through an examination of the manifested behaviour (Woollard, 2010). Instead, an analysis of disruptive behaviour requires only an examination of the behaviour itself and the context in which the behaviour occurs with no reference to the learner’s mental processes. Behaviour is examined in terms of what comes either before or after the manifested behaviour using a model known as the ABC model, where:

Roffey, 2006, p. 8

Gulliford, A., & Miller, A. (2015). Managing classroom behaviour: Perspectives from psychology. London: David Fulton.However, despite the teacher’s best efforts, it is highly likely that some children may still display disruptive behaviour on occasions. In this case, according to behaviourism, it is important to address the consequences of the behaviour as it may be the case that the undesirable behaviour is being reinforced by the reaction the learner provokes. For example, the child may behave badly in order to gain the teacher’s attention as, for some children, any attention, even negative, is better than no attention. Every time the teacher reacts, they are reinforcing the child’s disruptive behaviour. Alternatively, the child may be behaving badly in order to secure a reaction from their peers, and again, if this reaction is gained, the behaviour is being reinforced (Wray, 2010).

Info, in the manakin of the conquer behavior for a sealed stimulation, is familial from the instructor to the apprentice and learnedness is described as “the accomplishment of a new demeanour or the change of behavior as a solution of precept, preparation or tutoring” (Woollard, 2010, p. 1). Behavioral responses are strengthened done the use of an good reinforcer docket which breaks refine cloth into a succession of minor tasks, systematically repeats the corporeal, and provides cocksure reenforcement to set responses (Muleteer, 1976).  Intrinsically, didactics methods includes techniques such as learnedness by rote, ‘science and recitation’, and dubiousness and reply tasks that gradually addition in difficultness, as these techniques are able-bodied to break fabric into littler pieces and allow the uniform repeat required for acquisition to pass (Wray, 2010). It is likewise believed that precept should be cautiously plotted and taxonomic, regularly examination learners’ behaviours in decree to proctor their build and supply feedback on their scholarship (Cox, 2004).It is believed that demeanour can be changed by either ever-changing the precedence to the demeanor or the consequences of the demeanour. Hastings and Wheldall (1996) enumerate a numeral of advantages of this exemplar of agreement troubled demeanour. They propose that it focuses the instructor’s aid on what the nestling really does in the B look; the demeanor has to be systemically discovered and recorded quite than merely labelling the doings below the worldwide umbrella condition of ‘troubled’. Moreover, the instructor’s aid is directed towards events inside the schoolroom that s/he has tempt concluded and olibanum, can variety in gild to core vary in the minor’s deportment.

Wray, D. (2010). Looking at learning. In Arthur, J., & Cremin, T. (Eds.). Learning to Teach in the Primary School, 2nd Edition, pp. 41-52. London: Routledge.

Behaviourism was the primary psychological paradigm of the early twentieth century and is characterised by the work of Watson (1913) and Skinner (1976). It is an approach to learning that focuses on observable and quantifiable behaviour and discounts the need to refer to mental processes (Pritchard, 2009). Knowledge is seen as a repertoire of behaviours that are largely passive, mechanical responses to environmental stimuli (Wray, 2010). In order to describe this knowledge, no reference to internal, mental processes are needed, and instead, someone is said to understand something if they possess the appropriate repertoire of behaviours.

Furthermore, it is suggested that behaviour management techniques that focus only on behaviour and do not consider the mental processes of the individual are unable to change the learner’s cognition (Garner, 2009). This is because there is a focus on supressing bad behaviour rather than a focus on teaching learners new responses and changing long-term behaviour problems (Kearney, 2007).  As such, it is suggested that behaviourist approaches have little long-term effect and do not teach learners the skills to respond to situations in more appropriate ways.

From a behaviourist perspective, all behaviour is considered to be a repertoire of responses to a particular stimulus.Finally, behaviourist approaches to behaviour management have been criticised for their focus on rewards and it has been suggested that such a focus can reduce a learner’s intrinsic motivation to complete tasks (Vialle et al., 2005). In other words, the learner learns not to value learning and good behaviour for its own sake, but for the extrinsic rewards they receive for behaving well and completing the tasks the teacher gives them. As such, the learner does not become a self-motivated learner, but is reliant on the approval and direction of the teacher. Using a behaviourist perspective, Merrett and Wheldall (2012, p. 19) recommend using a ‘positive teaching’ approach to establish the context for appropriate classroom behaviour, characterised by the following five basic principles:

Cox, M. (2004). Children’s learning. In Nicholls, G. (Ed.). An Introduction to Teaching, 2nd Edition, pp. 38-56. London: Routledge.

Any attempt to change behaviour using this model should begin with the questions ‘What triggered the behaviour?’, in other words, the antecedence, and ‘How is this behaviour being reinforced?’, in other words, an examination of the consequences (Welsh Assembly, 2010). Antecedents to disruptive behaviour include both issues that the teachers can affect such as task difficulty, the learner’s engagement with the topic, the classroom seating arrangement, and their relationship with the teacher, as well as issues that the teacher has little control over, for instance the effect of the learner’s home environment on their learning. The ABC model suggests that teachers can use a number of preventative strategies to avoid disruptive behaviour by eliminating the antecedents to the unwanted behaviour, for example, the teacher can enforce rules through positive statements, they can give praise that is behaviour specific or they can change teaching to engage the interest of the learners (Gulliford and Miller, 2015).

Kay, J. (2006). Managing Behaviour in the Early Years. London: Continuum.

Other criticisms focus on the limitations of the approach itself. One major criticism of behaviourism is that it does not recognise the uniqueness of the individual (Vialle et al., 2005). In the educational context, Weare (2004) suggests that behaviourist approaches to behaviour management do not work equally with all learners, and they particularly do not work for those who may find it difficult to fit in with the behavioural demands of the learning setting because of reasons such as cultural differences, learning difficulties, and their emotional state. Therefore, it is argued that behaviour management should take a more holistic approach and should consider the child’s unique personal situation, their developmental level, cultural and social background and personality and characteristics instead of focusing on rigid norms of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour (Kay, 2006). Similarly, the behaviourist approach is also criticised for taking a simplistic approach to behaviour, largely derived from experiments on animals. Learners are considered to be passive recipients who react to various stimuli provided by the trainer, and who have little free will of their own (Wragg, 2001). This view of humans does not take into account the complex nature of human learning, and in focusing on only the observable behaviour, the learner’s cognition and thinking processes are ignored.

This approach emphasises how appropriate behaviour can be taught and learned through the use of behaviourist principles. The teacher firstly identifies the behaviours that they consider to be desirable and those that are considered to be disruptive and undesirable and then communicates these rules to the learners. The teacher then rewards the learners who display the desirable behaviour, thus changing behaviour through showing the learners the positive consequences of displaying appropriate behaviour (Pritchard, 2009). Behaviour management approaches such as ‘assertive discipline’ follow a similar pattern. In this case, a series of rules are established, there are rewards for those who follow the rules and consequences for those who do not, and these rewards and consequences are consistently applied (Canter and Canter, 1992). Current government guidelines for the management of behaviour in UK schools also adopt such an approach (DfE, 2011).

Hastings, N., & Wheldall, K. (1996). Effective classroom behaviour management. In Croll, P., & Hastings, N. (Eds.). Effective Primary Teaching: Research Based Strategies, pp. 72-86. London: David Fulton.

Watson, J.B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-178.

Appropriate responses can be taught and learnt through the use of an effective reinforcement schedule. Therefore, from this perspective, disruptive behaviour is considered to be an undesirable response to a set of stimuli, and children can be taught more desirable responses through the use of reinforcement. Using this basic theory, behaviourism has had considerable influence on classroom management techniques and the encouragement of appropriate behaviours in the classroom.

In conclusion, the behaviourist approach suggests a basic ABC model for understanding disruptive behaviour through an examination of the antecedents and the consequences of the behaviour within the context in which it occurs. This approach also provides a number of suggestions for strategies for avoiding disruptive behaviour and dealing with it once it occurs. It would seem that behaviourism is a commonly used behaviour management approach; humans tend to use reinforcement in their general behaviour and research has shown that the vast majority of teachers use behaviourist principles in their behaviour management strategies (Wragg, 2001). However, given the limitations of this approach, it would perhaps be useful for teachers to be aware of different approaches to behaviour management so that the needs of each individual student can be met.

Pritchard, A. (2009). Ways of Learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom, 2nd edition. In Cline, T., Gulliford, A, & Birch, S. (Eds.). Educational Psychology, 2nd Edition, pp. 223-257. London: Routledge.Woollard, J. (2010).Psychology for the Classroom: Behaviourism. London: Routledge.

Therefore, behaviourism advocates teaching learners new repertoires of behaviour and then reinforcing this good behaviour. Equally important, the undesirable behaviour should not be reinforced. Thus, reinforcement is the key aspect of this stage; however, it should be noted that, according to behaviourism, punishments and sanctions are not a part of the reinforcement schedule (Gulliford and Miller, 2015). Instead, positive reinforcement should be used as it is argued that pleasant experiences are more likely to help learners make the desired connections between specific stimuli and the appropriate response to that stimuli (Wray, 2010). Positive reinforcement can be given in three instances (LaVigna, 2000): a reward can be given when a learner chooses a preferred behaviour, known as differential reinforcement of an alternative response; a reward can be given when the learner chooses not to commit the undesirable behaviour, known as a differential reinforcement of the omission of a response; finally, a reward can be given when the learner displays a lower frequency of unwanted behaviour, known as a differential reinforcement of lower rates of responding. Disruptive and undesirable behaviour should be ignored as much as possible so as not to reinforce the behaviour (Wray, 2010).

LaVigna, G. (2000). Alternatives to Punishment. New York: Irvington.

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