Behaviorist Learning Theory, Instructional Strategies, and Technology Tools

“Behaviorist techniques have long been employed in education to promote behavior that is desirable and discourage that which is not” (Orey, 2001para. 8). The theory of Behaviorism is based on the idea that “people’s actions are driven by a need to gain rewards or avoid punishments” (Behaviorism, n.d.). An effective teacher finds a variety of techniques that encourages positive performance. These methods can be built into everyday instructions. Educational technology is linked to the theory of behaviorism in the classroom. “Behaviorism provides a foundation for instructional technology, education has shifted to computerized-individual education which is mainly established on behaviorist methods as repetition, direct instruction, token economies, and drill and practice” (Gökmenoğlu, 2010 p. 298). The relationship between instructional strategies and behaviorism is that both are founded on creating an effective learning environment for all students. In the 21st century, technology plays an essential role in this relationship. Online digital resources have the ability to individualize instruction and help educators mold student behavior.

In the 21st century, technology has become part of daily life. Students come into the classroom with a strong knowledge of how technology is used, however utilizing it with an educational purpose is a behavior that should be taught in schools. By using a variety of reinforcement strategies within the classroom, students become aware of behavior dealing with technology that is appropriate and what behavior is unacceptable. It is critical to teach students the “responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world” ( ISTE, 2016 para. 5). In the classroom behaviorism, the instructional strategies and digital tools are all interconnected. In an effort to create a productive learning environment, online tools can be used as a strategy to motivate student’s positive academic performance.

“The instructional strategy of reinforcing efforts, enhances students understanding of the relationship between efforts and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning” (Pitler & Hubbell, 2012 p. 57). This is an instructional strategy that I constantly use in my current teaching practices. After every assessment, my students are required to write an entry in their reflection log regarding that assessment. The reflection is an online spread sheet that the students share with me and update continuously throughout the year. After each entry I give individualized feedback to students in order to continue to promote self reflection of conceptual understanding and individual level of effort (ISTE, 2008). This is a space that allows me to address individual student’s attitudes and efforts in hopes of guiding students to understand the impact these make on their grades. In this teaching strategy “students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to describe their learning” (ISTE, 2016 para. 7). Providing feedback to students based on their effort is a way for me to illustrate to the students that their work ethic is not going unnoticed. This also gives me a chance to encourage desirable behaviors and praise those who are demonstrating satisfactory effort.

Another key digital resource that I would like to implement more in the future is interactive online problem solving. Resources such as are great tools that allow students to attempt practices problems and provides immediate feedback for students. For every question the student answers correctly, their “score” increases, when the student answers the questions incorrectly, the program generates a worked out solution with a corresponding explanation of the solution. The increasing score gives students incentive to learn from their mistakes, and the explanations give the students the resources to do just that. Taking advantage of these digital tools inside and outside of the classroom gives students the chance to “create meaningful learning experiences for themselves” (ISTE, 2016 para. 5).

Through the learning resource from this week, I have gained insights into utilizing technology in the classroom as an instructional strategy to help shape the atmosphere of the learning environment. My scholarly article described changes in the theory of behaviorism as it pertains to education and gave controversial views of behaviorism in the classroom. This allowed me to see both the benefits and the drawbacks of this theory. My popular sources both illustrated examples of practical 21st century teaching practices that aid in shaping student behavior. I have learned that integrating technology as a way of reflection and individualized instruction is key in the learning process. I can apply this to my variation of the Genius Hour by allowing students the opportunity to explore a variety of online digital tools as a way to encourage discovery and meaningful application. I can also give students a chance to reflect on these findings and provide feedback about their conceptual knowledge and their overall effort and behavior. Genius hour is about students investigating a topic of their interests that can help them form a connection with the content.  Giving students these opportunities is an effective way to teach students to use digital tools as an educational resource and to think critically and creatively.



Behaviorism: Overview and Practical Teaching Examples. (n.d.) 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

Gökmenoğlu, T. f., Eret, E. e., & Kiraz, E. e. (2010). Crises, Reforms, and Scientific Improvements: Behaviorism in the Last Two Centuries. Ilkogretim Online, 9(1), 292-299.

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

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


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