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How Learning Theory and Behaviorism Supports Learning and Teaching

In a classroom situation, there are different types of learners. Sometimes it can be hard to control some learners, especially those fond of disturbing others or making noise in class. Every teacher or aspiring teacher should be knowledgeable in behavioural learning theory as it is essential in a classroom setup. Many people believe that pupils learn best when allowed to practice what they are taught. A fundamental tenet of behaviourism is that all human actions result from experience-based learning. The intrinsic or genetic variables have relatively little impact on behaviour in learning theory, which asserts that behaviours are learned from the environment. Learning behaviourist theory explains what causes fast learning and slow learning in a classroom; teachers should handle students’ performance and find ways to increase performance in a classroom. Learning behaviourist theory is critical in the classroom as it helps build ethical students, and teachers also benefit by becoming better versions of themselves. This paper explains how learning behaviour theory supports understanding of learning and teaching.

The behavioural learning theory plays a huge role in learning and understanding in a classroom setup. A teacher can learn how to encourage and support students to become better in class through behaviour learning theory. It becomes easy for the instructor to convey information to learners by reacting to the correct stimuli. Students are passive participants in behavioural learning, whereby teachers provide knowledge as an aspect of stimulus-response. Behaviourism is very important in the classroom as it helps teach students how to behave and respond appropriately to various situations (Mcleod, 2007). However, for students to learn how to behave and act in a particular situation, learning behaviourist theory must repeatedly remind students what conduct a teacher is looking for frequently. Behaviourist learning theory is critical to teachers as they can get immediate feedback about their students’ understanding, behaviour, and performance. Through proper motivation, a student’s performance can improve for the best.

Positive reinforcement is also a fundamental concept in behavioural learning theory. Students will rapidly abandon their replies without positive reinforcement since they don’t seem to be working. Suppose instructors do not give positive reinforcement to promising students. In that case, students may do worse on examinations if they are no longer expected to receive a sticker for every A. Repetition and positive reward work together with the behavioural learning hypothesis (Staddon, 2021, p. 3). Teachers typically attempt to achieve the correct mix of repeating the circumstance and having the positive reinforcement occur to demonstrate to students why they should maintain that conduct. Behavioural learning is a motivating factor in the student’s life—both positive and negative reinforcement influence student motivation. For example, if a teacher praises a student for scoring good grades, they are likely to ensure that they keep scoring good grades to keep the teacher happy.

On the other hand, if a teacher does not encourage a student who is trying, they feel demoralized and do not find the need to keep working hard. Through learning behavioural theory, teachers should handle all students equally. Teachers should praise the students who are doing well in class, urge those who are failing to work hard and punish those who are misbehaving to avoid repeating destructive behaviour.

Behavioural learning theory is very effective in teaching as it makes it easy for the instructor to form a foundation for the methodologies to use. Teaching is not all about giving students the necessary content, but more is essential in education. Education needs to have effort, and the result of the action is also supposed to be evident. Cause and effect are also necessary for teaching and learning. If students cannot understand anything in class, the teaching and learning theory has not been practical. It is easy for an instructor to spot students’ patterns and use them to their advantage through learning behaviour theory. In education, instructors may make educated guesses about students’ behaviour and use this information to prepare lessons. It also becomes easy to use educational strategies on the learning theory to encourage desirable behaviours and discourage undesirable ones.

Students also benefit a lot from learning behaviourist theory as they can respond to different forms of reinforcement. Through learning behaviourist theory, a student can learn how to deal with the most straightforward concepts up to the complex ones (Hour, 2012). There is that foundation whereby students first get to know simple things to prepare their minds for challenging work. Learning behaviourist theory enables students to be in a position to ask questions in a classroom and get immediate feedback from their instructors and classmates.

Good behavioural practices are fundamental to learners as they get to connect between a stimulus and the desired response. An example is when a student gets complimented due to their neat books, they will continue keeping their books neatly. On the hand, a student who does not punish for untidy books will always stay untidy. To avoid punishment, a learner is likely always to avoid destructive behaviours. As a result of good behavioural practices, students can link certain stimuli with the proper reactions they need (Hour, 2012). Students who get positive reinforcement for their responses, such as praise and excellent marks, are more likely to retain those answers. In contrast, students who get negative support for their replies are less likely to maintain those answers. On the other hand, students prefer to avoid solutions connected with adverse outcomes, such as bad marks or negative criticism.

Teachers and students use learner behaviourist theory to develop a classroom routine. There is always a routine that teachers and students follow daily. In this way, students can adapt fast to the classroom activities and do what is right for them. Routine in a classroom helps students always to do the right thing at the right time to avoid punishment. People get punishments to deter or reduce the likelihood of engaging in a particular behaviour.

An example is that it is common for teachers to criticize students for using their cell phones during class. To urge students to switch off their cell phones when they arrive for class, the instructor aims to attack the usage of phones. If teachers charge a student in front of their peers, the students may want to avoid doing the same behaviour again to avoid being treated the same way in the future. In addition, it serves as a warning to other students that if they engage in similar behaviour that is deemed inappropriate in the classroom, they too will suffer the same consequences. Since many institutions worldwide use punishment strategies, it helps students learn better (Wilson & Peterson, 2006). Most schools have similar issues with pupils violating school policies, particularly during class. A teacher may criticize a group of pupils for conversing while instructing because they won’t be able to understand the lesson on their own, and because they’ll distract other pupils, the goal is to keep them from talking. Alternatively, a teacher may ask the same students to leave the classroom if they continue to engage in that kind of conduct. Although punishments may be light or severe, they are only successful if delivered to the proper individual, with specific actions, and when and where they are applied. Punishment, however, works effectively if administered immediately after the mistake happens.

When instructors encourage their pupils to create objectives for their learning, learner behaviourism helps improve classroom performance. Individuals make objectives for themselves and then aim their behaviour towards achieving those goals they have set for themselves. In reality, this is precisely what happens in a class situation. Students set many objectives for themselves, such as getting good grades, getting into college, being popular with their peers, or being known as class clowns. To get a good grade point average or a college scholarship, students are more likely to focus on their studies and pay attention in class. Through learning behaviour theory, an instructor gets all the necessary resources to guide students to develop goals they need to achieve.

In conclusion, emotional and environmental elements may either help or impede learning in people’s minds when it comes to learning. Different learning theories describe how learning happens and suggest teaching practices to help students learn more efficiently. If teaching tactics are not based on a knowledge of how learning occurs, they are ineffective and have little impact on student perseverance. It’s also possible to increase how students understand, remember, and transfer knowledge by integrating fundamental research on the learning process with teaching methods. This method is critical for assisting students in applying the skills and information they have received in the classroom to real-world situations. Learner behaviourist theory argues that students learn best with frequent feedback on whether or not what they are doing is correct. Immediate feedback in learner behaviourist theory might be in the form of exam results, homework marks, and CATS. According to critics, Learner behaviourist theory does not consider student identity and uniqueness. It is ineffective in assessing authentic learning even though schools continue to use learner behaviourist approaches daily in the classroom. Although it may not be helpful in its purest form, the current curriculum and the education of our pupils nevertheless rely on specific aspects of behaviourism. The application of behaviourism in the classroom is a successful strategy for raising student achievement. Understanding the theory and processes offers the instructor an unfair edge in both, regulating his pupils’ conduct more efficiently and helping them increase their learning to a higher level. When it comes to implementing behaviourism in the classroom, basic methods like punishment and reinforcement strategies are usually sufficient. The instructor must thoroughly understand their pupils before determining whether to use punishment, positive reinforcement, or negative reinforcement as a teaching strategy. Learning behaviourism theory should be implemented in every school, particularly at the elementary and secondary levels.


Hour, V. (2012, November 7). (PDF) The application of behaviourism in the classroom in primary and secondary schools. ResearchGate.

Mcleod, S. (2007, February 5). Behaviourism. Study Guides for Psychology Students – Simply Psychology.

Staddon, J. (2021). Behaviourist theory. The New Behaviorism, 55-73.

Wilson, S. M., & Peterson, P. L. (2006, June). Theories of Learning and Teaching What Do They Mean for Educators? ERIC – Education Resources Information Center.


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