Behaviorist Learning Theory, Instructional Strategies, and Technology Tools

“In defining behavior, behaviorist learning theories emphasize changes in behavior that results from stimulus-response associations made by the learner” (Orey, 2001).  Today, many teachers are still using instructional strategies that correlate with the behaviorist theory.  Educators use many methods to control behavior in the classroom, including PBIS or Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, rewards and reinforcement.  According to Orey, contracts, consequences, reinforcement, and behavior modification are all examples of the behaviorist theory in the classroom (Orey, 2001).  Adding technology to support behaviorism and instructional strategies reinforces effort and enhances students’ understanding between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2012).

Behavior and effort go hand in hand.  The attitudes and beliefs that students have about effort and learning are developed through repetition and the behaviorist approach.  One way students can change their attitude and beliefs about effort is by tracking their effort on a spreadsheet (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2012).  Students can track their effort by referring to a specific rubric and then calculate their grade.  This would allow students to see how their grade affected by how much effort they put forth in their work.  Allowing students to track their effort is a systematic and consistent approach that allows them to grasp the impact that effort can have on their achievement (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2012).  Having students log their effort and compare their grades is a way in which teachers can implement the behaviorist approach in their classroom using technology.

Within my classroom, I am currently using the behaviorist theory approach.  I currently use a math program called Zearn that students can access at school and at home.  Zearn provides students with educational games as well as interactive simulations that allow students to practice math concepts and skills repeatedly from school and from their home (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2012).  Having students interact on this website allows them to become fully immersed in the behaviorist learning theory.  While playing the games and interacting with the program, students are obtaining instant feedback and learning from them through programmed instruction (Laureate Education, 2015).  Students are using technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways (ISTE, 2016).  Furthermore, Zearn also provides positive reinforcement by rewarding students with new games and videos when they accomplished a level.  By providing Zearn as a differentiated math tool for students, I am customizing and personalizing their learning activities to address their diverse learning needs and abilities using digital tools (ISTE, 2008).  Zearn is a great online math program that provides students with instant feedback and positive reinforcement that are both examples of the behaviorist learning theory.

The sources I researched for this module’s discussion are already being applied in my classroom.  I currently compliment good behavior, support praise with evidence, and apply unpleasant consequences when necessary (Casico, 2017).  Furthermore, I have also applied many of the teaching practices from the behaviorism video that apply to students who seek negative attention.  The twitter handle I provided can also be used by researching the articles that are posted and reading the daily quotes.  This will provide me with positive encouragement on days where I feel like positive reinforcement is not working in my classroom.  These three sources can also be applied to projects that students work on using Hour of Code.  Students can instantly see their results of their coding actions, which provides them with reinforcement and incorporates the behaviorist learning theory.  Furthermore, at the end of their coding, students can what their effort produced when their finished product is done.

After researching the behaviorist learning theory, I now see how it correlates well with other teaching strategies and technology.  As I teach 21st-century learners and prepare them for college and career readiness, I can see how educational technology has become a powerful tool that I can use to create effective instructional events (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008).





Cascio, Christopher. (2017).  How Will I Apply Behaviorist Philosophy in the Classroom?. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015a). Behaviorist learning theory [Video file]. Baltimore MD: Author.

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


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