Behaviorism in Practice

This week in grad school, we read about a variety of instructional strategies and their relationship to Behaviorism, which has a much larger and more useful presence in educational technology than I had previously considered.

Below is a list of the technological strategies that were covered in our course text (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012), as well as a brief explanation of how they correlate to Behaviorism.  Whenever possible, examples are included as hyperlinks.  Suggested technology tools are also shown in parentheses.

  • Effort Rubrics (Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc.): When students chart their attitude, effort and/or commitment to learning on a regular basis, they can see the correlation between these things and their individual progress in class.  Subsequently, they can focus on themselves as being capable of improvement (regardless of environmental factors), and can adjust their behavior according to the positive changes they see in their logs (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
  • Student Showcase (Google Sites): There are many ways that websites can help to provide positive reinforcement for students and the school community as a whole.  An individual teacher can use a Google Site or other web tool to present student work, student ideas, student achievement, or even give students editing rights to allow them to create something they feel is worth showing off.  A department could use a website to reward high-achieving students in a particular subject or level.  And a school district could feature Students of the Month, award-winners or other pupils whose behavior and/or progress warrants a recognition by peers, parents and the community at large (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
  • Merit Badges (Picasa, Photoshop, MS Paint, etc.): Many kids were rewarded for good behavior and/or grades in the past with a certificate, badge, ribbon, or a spot on the fridge for their work.  Technology opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for positive reinforcement and recognition; students can actually create their own designs for merit badges, ribbons, etc., which would make them more meaningful and personal as rewards and therefore potentially more effective as a behavior stimulus.  Additionally, students can now post their merit badges online to their Google+ profiles, to Facebook, to course websites and in other places where their peers and the people who matter to them will see them (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
  • Student Galleries (Picasa, Wikispaces, Google Sites, etc.): Technology also allows students to take ownership of their own work and presentations, causing them to think more carefully about what kind of work is worth showing to an authentic audience, how it could be most effectively organized, why it is meaningful to them and how it could be meaningful to others, etc.  Students are now able to branch out beyond a classroom bulletin board and receive positive reinforcement and/or constructive criticism from professionals, parents and other people in the local or even global community (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
  • Speaking/Listening Practice (VoiceThread, Audacity, Google Voice, etc.): In the past, we were only able to assign our students homework that was primarily completed in written format, and that asked them to participate in rote rehearsal and repetitive practice and drills.  However, technology now allows for more meaningful skill reinforcement with immediate feedback.  Students can, for example, practice their pronunciation and spelling of a foreign language with VoiceThread and know right away if they are on track or not.  They can opt to do this once or as many times as they feel necessary to learn the material (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
  • Collaborative Brainstorming (Google Docs): Instead of assigning students a worksheet or set of questions to complete, we can ask them to collaborate together (asynchronously or simultaneously) using Google Docs to brainstorm and review course content that they learned previously.  This provides them with several opportunities for immediate positive and/or negative feedback from their peers, plus a chance to revise their thoughts and immediately change behavior in an effort to meaningfully build on their existing skills and ideas (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).
These are just a small sampling of the kinds of strategies available for our students today.  Behaviorist technology tools also include things like online tutorials, practice games, practice tests and more.


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


  1. Dana,
    I'm so impressed by how you did this assignment. Putting in the links to the different resources is something that I have yet to learn, but it makes me excited to see how much more compelling it is to interact with a blog post like this, rather than a boring essay like mine. Definitely a take-away that I can take to the classroom!

  2. Erika, it is actually really simple! With most websites/blogging applications, you should be able to highlight the text that you want to make into a link, and then click the hyperlink button in your toolbar (sometimes looks like a chain link). Then copy/paste the link in and click enter. Try it out!