9 Examples of Behaviorism in a Classroom

Behaviorism is a psychological theory that has significantly impacted educational practices. Originating from the works of psychologists John Watson and B.F. Skinner, behaviorism focuses on observable behavior and how it can be shaped through reinforcement and punishment.

In the classroom, behaviorism has been used to manage and modify students’ behaviors in an effort to enhance learning and create a positive educational environment. In this article will explore the two conditions upon which behaviorism is based, examine its advantages and disadvantages in the classroom, and 9 provide examples of behaviorist practices that are commonly used in educational settings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Behaviorism in the Classroom

Using behaviorism in education has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it can help improve student behavior and create a more structured classroom by rewarding positive behavior and punishing bad behavior. Additionally, it can motivate students to engage in desired behaviors, like paying attention and completing assignments.

However, behaviorism also has its drawbacks. Rewards and punishments may only result in temporary changes rather than lasting and meaningful ones. It can also create an unsupportive and unfriendly classroom environment, harming students’ confidence and self-worth.

Behaviorism may also oversimplify complex behavioral issues and ignore the underlying causes of problematic behavior. Lastly, it may reinforce undesired behaviors, such as punishing an entire class for the actions of one student or giving rewards for completing undesirable tasks, for instance, a student may be motivated by the reward of completing a task they don’t enjoy, rather than the intrinsic motivation to learn the material.

While behaviorism can help promote good behavior in the classroom, it’s crucial to consider its benefits and drawbacks before deciding to use it in teaching.

Examples of Behaviorism in a Classroom

9 Examples of Behaviorism in a Classroom
9 Examples of Behaviorism in a Classroom

Behaviorism can be applied in various ways in the classroom setting to reinforce desired behaviors and punish undesirable behaviors. Some examples include:

Rewarding Good Behavior

Rewarding positive behavior is a fundamental aspect of behaviorism, and teachers have a variety of ways to motivate students with rewards. Positive reinforcement can be an effective tool in helping to form good habits and behaviors that are suitable to learning.

Teachers can select from different types of rewards, such as praise, extra credit, or special privileges. Praise is the simplest way to reward students for their hard work and effort. It is essential that teachers give specific feedback when praising students, so they understand precisely what they did right.

Extra credit can be an additional reward for students who perform above and beyond their normal expectations. Special privileges like having lunch with the teacher or getting out of class early are great options for rewarding positive behavior. Teachers need to recognize the importance of rewards in motivating their students to learn and do well in school.

Punishing Bad Behavior

Punishing bad behavior is an effective strategy for addressing disruptive or destructive behavior in the classroom. Teachers should not rely on punishment as the only tool to curb such misbehavior, but it can be a valuable resource when used carefully and thoughtfully. With this in mind, it’s crucial for teachers to understand all the potential methods of punishing bad behavior that can be used in their classrooms.

Verbal warnings

Verbal warnings are one of the most common forms of punishment and a great way for teachers to discipline their students. They provide an opportunity for teachers to talk to their students about their inappropriate behavior, without resorting to harsher punishments. It also allows the teacher to explain why the behavior was wrong and discuss how it could have been handled differently.


Time-outs are another popular form of punishment used by educators. This method requires the student to be disciplined to take a break from whatever activity or situation is causing them difficulty to think through what happened and devise a plan for avoiding similar issues in the future. Time-outs should not be seen as a punishment but rather as an opportunity for reflection and learning.

Loss of privileges

Loss of privileges is one of the most effective methods for punishing bad behavior in a classroom. Teachers are now allowed to remove certain privileges from students who continuously act out or misbehave, providing a reward for those students to maintain their discipline and stay focused on their studies.

It’s a powerful tool for teachers as it helps them keep students on track and encourages good behavior. No student wants to miss out on the exciting activities that come with being part of a classroom; this means that if they don’t behave, they risk losing those activities altogether. Plus, it can also be used as a form of positive reinforcement – when students display excellent behavior, they can be rewarded with additional privileges.

Subtract and add points

This technique in the classroom involves giving points to students for good behavior and taking points away for bad behavior. For instance, students may earn points for completing homework on time, participating in class, or showing kindness and respect. On the other hand, they may lose points for misbehaving, causing a disruption, or not meeting expectations.

The goal is to create a system of rewards and consequences that encourages positive behavior and discourages negative behavior. However, this method may not work for all students as everyone is different. Some students may not be motivated by this type of reinforcement, while others may feel discouraged if they don’t earn enough points.

Point systems can also lead to competition and resentment among students, so it’s important to use this approach in combination with other methods and consider each student’s unique needs to get the best results.

Get up when the teacher enters

Having students stand up when the teacher enters the room is a way to promote respect in a classroom. This behaviorist approach is easy to implement and has shown positive results with regard to student respect for their teachers.

The idea behind this strategy is that students demonstrate their respect for the teacher by standing up. It’s also a way of showing that the teacher holds authority over them, which can only benefit learning and classroom management.

This act can be beneficial for students who struggle with staying focused. Not only does it encourage them to stay attentive, but it also helps break up long periods of sitting inactive in one place — which can lead to restlessness and reduced productivity.

It also shows respect towards the instructor and what is being taught in the classroom, setting an example of good behavior while encouraging everyone into a productive learning environment.

In addition, having the whole class stand adds a bit of fun into the mix; with classmates around them encouraging each other to participate!

This approach doesn’t take much effort or preparation on behalf of either teachers or students but can lead to significant improvements in the classroom atmosphere.

Severely Penalizing Copying

Severely penalizing copying can be seen as a form of behaviorism in the classroom.

The idea behind this strategy is that if students know there will be severe consequences for cheating, it will discourage them from doing it in the first place.

This approach has already proven successful in several educational institutions across the globe. For example, some schools have implemented systems where students are required to sign an agreement indicating they understand that if caught cheating there will be severe punishments such as suspension or even expulsion. This method has been found to dramatically reduce incidents of cheating among students.

Not only does having strict consequences create an environment where cheating doesn’t pay off, but it also helps foster an atmosphere of academic integrity and honesty within the classroom setting.

Fostering Academic Interest

Fostering academic interest is key in the classroom, and behaviorism plays a role here! Teachers are responsible for delivering knowledge and encouraging their students to stay interested and engaged. By tapping into the principles of behaviorism, teachers can create an environment where students actively participate in their own learning journey.

Behaviorism emphasizes positive reinforcement to motivate learners, which works well both in the classroom and outside it. Through rewards like extra credit or verbal praise, teachers can encourage good performance and motivate students to strive towards academic success.

Not only that, but when used together with other strategies such as setting achievable goals or offering feedback on student progress, behaviorism helps ensure that the entire class stays focused on learning objectives.

Investigation as Punishment

In a classroom setting, investigating misbehavior as a form of punishment can effectively keep students in line. This technique involves getting to the root cause of why a student is acting out and finding appropriate solutions. It may sound daunting, but it can be quite valuable for teachers and students.

Investigating misbehavior as a form of punishment requires that teachers use their best judgment to identify what happened and figure out how best to address it. Teachers must also work with the student to create an action plan that both parties agree upon to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

By taking this approach, teachers can teach students important life lessons on accountability and build stronger relationships with their students by expressing genuine care and concern for them.

The Sound of the Doorbell

In a classroom setting, the doorbell sound can be a powerful tool in behavior modification. This is because the sound of the bell can serve as a reminder or signal for students to transition from one task to another. For example, when the bell rings, students might know it’s time to clean up their work and prepare for recess. Or, when the bell sounds at the end of the day, students might know it’s time to pack up their belongings and head home. By using the bell, teachers can create a routine that helps students stay focused and on task.

Expulsion from Class

One of the most severe punishments in a classroom setting is expulsion from class that follows a behaviorist approach. It happens when a student consistently violates or breaks the rules set by their teacher, and it’s seen as a way to help reform or modify the student’s behavior. It can be difficult for teachers to use this punishment on their students, but it might be necessary at some point.

Expulsion from classes works by punishing bad behaviors while simultaneously rewarding good ones. This helps students establish behavioral patterns that facilitate learning and engagement.

The idea behind expulsion is that if you remove an individual from the environment where they’ve been misbehaving, then it will reduce any potential negative impact on them and make them feel comfortable enough to return with improved behaviors.

Final Thoughts

Behaviorism in classrooms offers structure and allows teachers to shape their students’ behaviors. While this can have a lot of advantages, you should also be aware of the potential downsides that could occur as well. Some behaviorism techniques, such as rewards and punishments, can have clear advantages. But as a teacher, you want to strike a fair balance when implementing such methods.

You can also check out these external resources related to this article

Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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