Find out how Pavlov developed Behaviourist theory and my thoughts on applying it in the teaching and learning setting.
In the 19th Century, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian Psychologist performed a series of tests focusing on salivary secretion and stimuli in dogs.
Pavlov hypothesised that when food was placed in front of his dogs, they would salivate. He noticed, however, that the dogs began to salivate in anticipation of having food placed in front of them when they heard the attendants footsteps.
He tested this observation further by ringing a bell just as the dogs were presented their food. After doing this a number of times, he rang the bell without producing the food stimulus and confirmed that the dogs began to salivate in response to the bell.
Pavlov’s studies lead to what is known as Classical Conditioning – the first systematic study of the basic laws of learning/conditioning.
The object/event that originally produces a reflexive/natural response
A new stimulus that doesn’t produce a response
The neutral stimulus that has become associated with the Unconditioned Stimulus
The new response to the conditioned stimulus
John B. Watson (1878-1958)
B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)
As discussed, Behaviourism believes that learning occurs in response to the environment (‘conditioning’) and change occurs when the new behaviour is reinforced with a reward.
It is an appropriate learning theory when :
Instruction that is underpinned by Behaviourism typically requires:
In nursing education, medication uses and side effects are often memorised by rote. Due to the repetition and memorisation of ‘only one correct answer’, this learning scenario has behaviourism at its core.
This experience could be further enhanced however by utilising an online drag and drop quiz (question and response) which is gamified by including an open leader board for top scores. Points would be awarded for both correct answers as well as the speed at which the questions are answers much like a Kahoot quiz. The ‘game’ could be played over and over to allow scorers to attempt to beat their peers while at the same time helping them to memorise the medications, medication families and side effects with further repetition.
Stimulus: Gamified Quiz with an open leader board
Response: Correct Answer
Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement for correct answers (more points) and speed (to gain more points and beat your peers).
Braungart, M., Braungart, R., & Gramet, P. (2011). Applying Learning Theories to Healthcare Practice. In S. Bastable, P. Gramet, K. Jacobs & D. Sopczyk, Health Professional as Educator: Principles of Teaching and Learning. Ontario: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
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The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904 | Ivan Pavlov Biographical. (2020). Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1904/pavlov/biographical/