Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Technology and Behaviorism

This week in my grad class, Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology, we explored two teaching strategies that implement technology. These strategies are reinforcing effort and providing recognition, and assigning homework and providing practice. This week we also reviewed the behaviorist educational theory (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). In this blog post, I will explain how these strategies can connect with the behaviorist model. 

When a teacher reinforces effort in the classroom it provides students with positive feedback. This encourages students to continue learning.  It is important for students to realize that their success is linked to the effort they put in (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012). When students are able to keep track of their progress in class they take ownership of their own learning (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012). The recognition of positive behavior is a basic behaviorist idea (Laureate , 2011). I have seen an improvement in effort in my own classroom when I discuss participation grades with each student daily.  It would be interesting to add the element of technology to this strategy. I believe students would like to manipulate the data into various charts and graphs. As an art teacher, I enjoy bragging about my student’s talents. At this time, I have an art student of the month on a cork board in the hallway. It would be more of an honor if I put together an artist of the week portion of my blog that highlights one student. Perhaps students would link this post to their social media, or email the link to their parents.

Homework is not a typical occurrence in my art courses. Much of the work is completed during studio time in the classroom. However, students do sketch outside of the classroom when brainstorming project ideas or themes. In previous courses, I have set the goal to set up a class wiki or blog where students can post pictures of their artistic process or completed artwork for peer review. This gives students the chance to interact with other students who may be different periods. It is also beneficial since there is a limited amount of classroom time and students can respond to peers at their leisure. When students practice responding to each other online the in class critiques will become smoother. Teacher would be involved this process to give feedback and encourage learning. The idea of giving feedback, both positive and negative, is a behaviorist idea (Laureate , 2011).


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

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. (2nd ed.). Denver, Colorado: McRel.


  1. Jen, I love the idea of sharing the artistic process online. I know when I took art classes so many years ago, I felt, most of the time I was working alone. Having a blog where students can look at each other's processes and perhaps give comments if asked for could be wonderful. I am a quilter and have a blog. At times I have posted about a quilt I am frustrated with or stuck on and ask for community comment and have always been uplifted by the responses. I don't know if you have seen this site, but I recently shared it with the art teacher at my school. She said she had used it for inspiration for lessons, but it could be encouraging to share your student's work on it. Great reinforcement possibilities.

  2. Mary,
    Art can be isolating, even if you are working in a large studio with others. I am also a quilter! I have found helpful information about quilting online, the e-quilting community is very supportive!

    I have heard of artsonia before-but only for a fundraising tool. I will look into that site to see with else it has to offer. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Hi Jen,

    I love your idea of how to use a wiki by posting sketches for peer review. I have recently been trying to find interesting ways of using a wiki with my younger students, and I love this idea! Do you find they use it a lot for this purpose? Do you think it would be easy enough for elementary aged kids?


  4. Hi Jen,

    I really love the idea of having personal discussion with kids about their participation because I feel that it's more meaningful to them when we sit and spend time with them rather than just hand back feedback on paper. I think if you added a technological component and had them look at pie charts or graphs of their participation, it would not only be cool--but could also give you an opportunity to incorporate an artistic twist. For example, you could ask a student who is struggling with participation to draw an exaggerated version of a successful pie chart or bar graph! I think you have a lot of neat possibilities there.

    I also like your student of the week idea. Again, it is meaningful and the audience is authentic and of high value to the kids involved. Great idea.

    Finally, I also love your low-homework/peer-review system. We do this a bit in foreign language courses by having our kids post blogs and writing samples online that they then peer-edit and/or comment on prior to publishing formally. It works great!

    Your classes sound interesting and fun!

  5. Jen, do you find that giving a actual grade for participation is a strong enough incentive for your students in the classroom? I teach 8th grade and some of my students are just in my class to see what they can get away with and art is the farthest thing on their mind. I don't want to do too many behaviorist theory's in my class but this one sounds like a good one.