Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The behaviorist learning theory is based on the principles that desired behaviors are rewarded and undesired behaviors face consequences. The student is encouraged to repeat successful behaviors to seek further rewards. The students also will learn from consequences and change undesirable behaviors. Technology and the behaviorist learning theory work hand-in-hand in motivating and engaging students in the learning process.

Many students have a preset notion about certain subjects. For one reason or another they will come up with reasons why they will be unsuccessful. Due to this attitude students may not put forth the effort needed in order to succeed. Through the use of spreadsheet software and an effort rubric teachers are able to help students see the difference in success when students put forth effort by taking class notes, paying attention, participating, doing homework and studying. “The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning” (Pitler, 2007, p. 155). By tracking and graphing the results students are able to clearly see that the level of their participation in the classroom activities will significantly affect their overall achievement. Students that are not attaining the desired results are able to task analyze what area they can work on to better their chances at success.

Homework can be the bane of existence for any classroom teacher. Assigning meaningful, clear and helpful homework is the first battle but then comes the tricky problem. Making sure that every assignment that is handed in is reviewed, commented on and returned in a timely fashion can be over whelming. Not to mention the effort involved in motivating reluctant students to even consider completing the given assignments. Within the chapter on homework and practice, Pitler mentions the use of multimedia and web resources to engage students in increasing their conceptual understanding of skills and concepts (Pitler, 2007, p. 188-198). One idea that was not mentioned in the reading was the use of a classroom blog. I have used this resource in the past with great success. Every week I would post different questions, videos, pictures or scenarios about topics that we had discussed in class. Students would respond to the posts with examples, further discussion, pictures and questions. It was a great resource to have students interacting together and building off what their peers had stated. The duties and dread of homework was somewhat relieved. Students were motivated to participate and would check back several times a week.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Kristen,
    I found your post to be quite informative. You suggest that incorporating a blog to fulfill homework duties is motivational and interactive. I agree that the use of a blog may aid students in being enthralled with homework assignments, although I am apprehensive to use blogs as homework, because not every one of my 100 students have internet access. I am curious, do you assign alternative assignments to those without internet access at home? If so, are those students as engaged with the homework compared to other students? The reason I am so interested is because lack of the internet at home is the one element that is keeping me from implementing homework blogs.

    I assign homework approximately 3 times a week, and have had students chronically fail to complete homework assignments, despite the utilization of negative reinforcements.
    Thanks in advance for your ideas!

  2. Josh,

    I taugh fourth grade last year. This is when I used the bolg for homework. I still had the regular written homework of math, reading and writing but used the blog as a way to engage students in learning outside of school. They would be excited to find out the new topics, videos, photos and websites that were added to the blog each week. Students were going out of their way to be able to blog. The students would go to the library or a friend's house who did have internet. I also gave time to my students during the day a couple times a week so that everyone could be involved.

    Hope this was helpful.


  3. Kristin,
    I couldn't agree more about the timeliness of reviewing, grading, and returning student homework. In my classroom, we grade students' previous day's assignments right when class starts and then spend whatever amount of time is needed going over problem areas of the assignment -- a form of behavior reinforcement. One of my daughter's math teachers only collects homework once a week. While the concept is nice for busy students who don't have time to do a lot of homework every single night, it tends to be a problem for students who have no idea where they are making mistakes in their math until test time comes along.

    Your blog use is terrific. Your 2nd graders are lucky to have those connections to educational technology at their young age.


  4. Kristin,

    I also used the example of the effort rubric with tracking on the excel spreadsheet in my blog post. I really like the fact that it gives students instant and clear feedback. Many students aren't motivated to learn for the sake of learning or for pleasing the teacher, or doing what they are told, especially in the middle school years. This strategy gives them the motivation.


  5. Richard,

    I am finding that even in Fifth grade students are not motivated to learn. I agree with you totally that this gives the motivation.