By Tara Chand and Ravi Prakash
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Extra info for Advanced Education Psychology
Implicit in operant behaviourism is the conviction that "When all relevant variables have been arranged, an organism will or will not respond. If it does not, it cannot. " How Does Operant Differ from Respondent or Reflexive Conditioning? Reflexive learning involves such situations as are described in the Pavlovian dog studies. Essentially it is a process of stimulus substitution. An organism supposedly responds reflexively to a natural or unconditioned stimulus. A new stimulus is presented along with the original stimulus and the organism comes to respond to the new stimulus in the same way it formerly did to the original one.
Man thinking is man behaving, and human thought is operant, not reflexive, behaviour. " Skinner observes that study of what traditionally has been called the human mind is more appropriately a study of concepts and methods which have emerged from an analysis of behaviour. Thinking behaviour is verbal or nonverbal, overt or covert. It is primarily the verbal behaviour of men which has survived in recorded form, but from this and other records we can know something about their nonverbal behaviour.
But he sees their principal task as bringing proper behaviour under many sorts of stimulus control. "Teaching spelling is mainly a process of shaping complex forms of behaviour. " 89 What are the Shortcomings of Current Educational Practice? Skinner believes that it is in bringing correct responses under stimulus control that the greatest inefficiency of current teaching procedures occurs. " Skinner notes some current weaknesses in educational practices: (1) Behaviour is dominated by aversion (escape) stimulation; (2) too great a lapse of time exists between behaviour and its reinforcement; (3) a skilful programme of reinforcement which moves forward through a series of progressive approximations to the final complex behaviour desired is lacking; and (4) reinforcement of desired behaviour occurs much too infrequently.