Behaviorism in Practice

Teachers are responsible for motivating students to learn. Behaviorist learning theories provide teachers with a variety of strategies to help them with motivating their students. Educators have used behaviorist methods for years to encourage desirable behaviors and decrease unwanted behaviors (Orey, 2001). Teachers can increase desirable student behaviors by establishing consequences for appropriate and inappropriate actions in the classroom. Teachers can also support student behaviors with the use of technology. Educators can successfully implement behaviorist methods and instructional strategies into their classrooms through the use of blogs and online educational games.

The use of a blog is one way to incorporate the reinforcing effort and providing recognition instructional strategy into the classroom. Posting outstanding student work online can provide students with recognition opportunities from classmates, families, and teachers (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012). Students can post their work to a blog and receive comments and feedback from others. Behavior changes occur when students associate work with something positive and receive recognition from people they respect (Orey, 2001). When students receive positive feedback, they are likely to continue their efforts on subsequent tasks. This also motivates other students in the class because they want the same recognition of their work.

Another instructional strategy that correlates with the principles of the behaviorist learning theory and supports the use of technology is assigning homework and providing practice. To strengthen the homework and practice strategy,the use of technology provides a vast amount of resources to assist students in learning outside of school (Pitler et al., 2012). Some resources students have access to outside of school are online educational games. The students in my classroom have accounts for IXL Math, Reflex Math, and RAZ Kids. These games allow students to practice math and reading skills they learn in exciting ways. Positive reinforcement, such as incentives and praise, are essential to motivating students (Smith, 1999). Each game rewards students with points they can accumulate and use to receive medals of accomplishment or money for a store within the games. These incentives and the game format for learning motivate students with a desire to practice what they are learning at home.

Behaviorist learning theories aid teachers in motivating students in the classroom. The incorporation of technology in education supports the use of instructional strategies and the behaviorist learning theories to enhance student learning. Class blogs can provide recognition to students who do well on assignments, and online educational games can motivate students to continue practicing at home.


Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from


10 thoughts on “Behaviorism in Practice

  1. Assigning homework and practice is a great way to incorporate technology into the classroom. Between interactive tutorials to online quizzes, adding these forms of technology allows students to use things that they enjoy such as their phones to learn and practice. This can also be incorporated to behaviorism because these forms of technology can be rewards for turning in homework or passing test scores. Making incentives for students helps shape their behavior and get the reaction that the teacher desires. Behaviorism is important in the classroom for learning and structure. Conditioning is a term used for reinforcing desired behaviors with positives things to promote a reoccurrence of these desired behaviors. And the opposite with non desired behaviors.


    • I agree that this homework and practice is a great method to incorporate technology into the classroom. When students use interactive tutorials and online quizzes they are often rewarded within the quiz or tutorial. Another way I have rewarded students is by announcing high scores on math and reading applications students use randomly throughout the week. This type of praise has students always competing to have the top score.



  2. Stephanie, I think it is a great idea for students to respond to one another’s work on a blog. This is a great way to effectively use technology and help encourage and motivate students to produce really good work because they know all of their classmates will be seeing it along with their teacher. I also agree that students will work harder to improve their work if they consistently see other people in the class getting praised for their work and rewarded for doing good things. Being motivated by others is a very powerful tool in the classroom.


    • Stephanie,
      Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, (2012) pointed out how giving praise online can be a powerful tool. I have been looking into using Twitter as a tool to give student’s praise online. Do you use Twitter of have you considered using Twitter? This is a link to a resource about Twitter that is helpful for teachers that would like to use it.


    • Nina,

      Blogs really are powerful. I am already seeing a difference. I have only had my students post a couple of things on the blog, but even the work that does not make it to the blog shows a big difference. I think this is due to students learning from viewing and commenting on their peers’ work, and because they always want to be ready in case I tell them that an assignment needs to be posted to the blog.



  3. Hi Stephanie,

    I definitely think that the use of a classroom blog can increase positive behaviors and effort within and outside of the classroom. Do you currently use a blog with your class? How old are your students? I am interested in starting a blog with my students next year, so I am asking around to see which sites people use and how they manage the blogs.

    Also, regarding the online games, do you find your students are more interested in playing games related to math or reading? I find that my middle school students are much more resistant to completing online reading strategy games as opposed to games that are math related.



    • Yes, I have a class blog. I use kidblog. This one was really easy to set up and really easy for myself and my students to use. I think it only took me twenty minutes to have a class blog up and running. Good luck setting up a blog. You will not regret it.

      I have found my students are more interested in the math because these types of games are more of a game than the reading app my students work on.



  4. As I read your blog post, I especially called to how you stated, throughout your post, the words motivation, motivating, motivate… Motivating our students is the best strategy teachers have to reinforce the expected positive behavior. Behaviorist learning theories are definitely present in our classroom and students need positive reinforcement to continue doing well or improve their behavior.


    • Amalia,

      Thank you. I agree that motivation is a key factor in getting students to demonstrate desired behaviors. If they have no motivation for something, then they have no purpose.



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