What is the Behaviorist approach to classroom management?

      The behaviorist approach looks at ways to modify behaviors in the classroom. How do we increase or decrease a behavior using reinforcement and consequences? This approach breaks down behaviors to the smallest portion to figure out the trigger for the behavior and how the behavior can then be modified. Some leading scientists in the field of behaviorist approach are: Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) who discovered conditioned and unconditioned responses to stimuli with his salivating dog study, and B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) who paved the way for the behaviorist approach to focus on operant conditioning (a behavior is met with a response, positive or negative reinforcement, or punishment). All of the concepts in the behaviorist approach focus on behaviors and the modification and causes to those behaviors.

                                            Pavlov dogs


 Punishment vs. Consequences

     It is important to distinguish the difference between punishment and consequences. Punishment is a negative and unconnected response to an undesired behavior. Instead of using punishment, we should use reinforcements. Consequences are outcomes to undesired behavior. However, there are two types of consequences. Natural concequences occur naturally and are not manipulated or created by a person. As an example, Sarah continually calls-out during whole group instruction. The natural consequence of this is that she will not understand the lesson. Logical consequences are created by the teacher and should logically connect to the wrongdoing. There is little to no logic in punishment. Therefore, teacher should strive to use reinforcements and logical consequences to obtain desired behaviors from his or her students. 


 Preventive, Supportive, and Corrective Discipline

      In the behaviorist approach, there are three important aspects of discipline. These are: preventive, supportive, and corrective discipline. Preventive discipline are postive proactive procedures that emphasize and reward good behavior. It does not look at bad behaviors, but seeks to prevent them from occuring. Supportive discipline helps a student to maintain their own self-discipline. They are the guides we provide students to stay on track. Corrective discipline seeks to stop disruption as quckly as possible. Consequences are applied firmly and fairly to deal with disruptive  behaviors. Below are some examples of each type of discipline.

 Preventive SupportiveCorrective  

Classroom layout and design

Non-verbal cues - eyes and facial cues

Conference - one-on-one disucssion with student about behavior problem.

  Model procedures
 Proximity to student
 Written behavioral contracts
 Daily routines
 Redirecting behavior  Student leaves classroom



 Concluding remarks about the behaviorist model

     The behaviorist model is about altering behaviors. It is about obtaining the positive behaviors that are wanted in a student. Teachers can monitor student progress and track behaviors by creating baseline charts (occurance of a behavior). This will key them into when and why a behavior may be occuring and then help them plan a way to introduce a new behavior or replacement behavior. This model is about shaping, prompting, and modeling behaviors. The behaviorist model is also concerned with learning how and when to apply positive and negative reinforcements for wanted behaviors or consequences for unwanted behaviors.

                                                                                                   Gold Star!