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Behaviorism Learning Theory

Behaviorism learning theory is a theory coined by Gage and Berliner about behavior change as a result of experience

This theory then developed into a flow of learning psychology that influenced the direction of the development of educational and learning theories and practices known as Behaviorism flow. This flow emphasizes the formation of behavior that appears as a result of learning.

Behaviorism theory with its stimulus-response model

seat the learner as a passive individual. Specific responses or behaviors using training or habituation methods only. The appearance of behavior will be stronger if given reinforcement and will disappear if subject to punishment.

Learning is a result of the interaction between stimulus and response (Slavin, 2000: 143). Someone is considered to have learned something if he can show changes in behavior. According to this theory important learning is input in the form of stimulus and output in the form of response. Stimulus is anything that is given by the teacher to students, while the response in the form of a reaction or response from students to the stimulus provided by the teacher. The process that occurs between stimulus and response is not important to note because it cannot be observed and cannot be measured. Which can be observed is the stimulus and response, therefore what is given by the teacher (stimulus) and what is received by students (response) must be observable and measured. This theory prioritizes measurement, because measurement is an important thing to see whether changes in behavior occur or not.

Another factor that is considered important by the Behaviorism flow is the reinforcement factor. If the reinforcement is added (positive reinforcement) then the response will be stronger. Similarly, if the response is reduced / eliminated (negative reinforcement), the response is also getting stronger.

Some principles in Behaviorism learning theory, include:

  1. Reinforcement and Punishment
  2. Primary and Secondary Reinforcement
  3. Schedules of Reinforcement
  4. Contingency Management
  5. Stimulus of Control in Operant Learning
  6. The Elimination of Responses (Gage, Berliner, 1984).

Behaviorism figures include Thorndike, Watson, Clark Hull, Edwin Guthrie, and Skinner. The following will discuss the works of the Behaviorism flow figures and their analysis and role in learning.

According to Thorndike, learning is the process of interaction between stimulus and response. Stimulus is what stimulates learning activities such as thoughts, feelings, or other things that can be captured through the senses. While the response is a reaction that is raised by students when learning, which can also be thoughts, feelings, or movements / actions. So changes in behavior due to learning activities can be concrete, that is, that can be observed, or not concrete that is that can not be observed. Although the flow of behaviorism strongly prioritizes measurement, but can not explain how to measure behavior that can not be observed. Thorndike’s theory is also called the theory of connectionism (Slavin, 2000).

There are three main learning laws, according to Thorndike namely:

  1. the law of securities
  2. the law of practice
  3. legal readiness (Bell, Gredler, 1991)

These three laws explain how certain things can strengthen responses.

Learning Theory According to Watson

Watson defines learning as a process of interaction between stimulus and response, but the stimulus and response in question must be observable and observable. So although he acknowledges the existence of mental changes in a person during the learning process, but he considers these factors as things that do not need to be taken into account because it can not be observed. Watson is a pure behaviorist, because his studies of learning are aligned with other sciences such as Physics or Biology that are oriented solely on empirical experience, that is, the extent to which they can be observed and measured.

Learning Theory According to Clark Hull

Clark Hull also uses the variable relationship between stimulus and response to explain understanding of learning. But he was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. For Hull, like the theory of evolution, all behavioral functions are useful primarily to keep the organism alive. Therefore Hull said biological needs (drive) and satisfying biological needs (drive reduction) are important and occupy a central position in all human activities, so that stimulus (stimulus encouragement) in learning is almost always associated with biological needs, although the response that will arise may can take many forms. Strengthening behavior is also included in this theory, but it is also associated with biological conditions (Bell, Gredler, 1991).

Learning Theory According to Edwin Guthrie

The main principle of learning Guthrie is the law of contiguity. Namely a combination of stimuli accompanied by a movement, when they arise again tends to be followed by the same movement (Bell, Gredler, 1991). Guthrie also uses the stimulus and response relationship variable to explain the learning process. Learning occurs because the last movement made changes the stimulus situation while no other response can occur. Strengthening simply protects new learning outcomes from being lost by preventing new responses. The relationship between stimulus and response is temporary, because in learning activities students need to be given stimulus as often as possible so that the stimulus and response relationship is stronger and more permanent. Guthrie also believes that punishment plays an important role in the learning process. Punishment is given at the right time will be able to change a person’s behavior.

The main suggestion from this theory is that teachers must be able to associate stimulus responses appropriately. Learners must be guided to do what must be learned. In managing classroom teachers must not give assignments that may be ignored by children (Bell, Gredler, 1991).