Educational Psychology: What is the place of the Behavioristic theory in classrooms today?

CHAPTER THREE

REMEMBERING AND FORGETTING

3a ii). Examine the place of the behavioristic theory in classrooms today

The Behavioristic theory

The behaviorists developed the following explanations: The disuse model and the interference model

The Disuse Theory

This theory submits that people forget the S-R connections or associations made previously because they grow rusty or fade away through lack of use. This concept can be explained through the Pavlovian or Skinnerian experiments. In Pavlov’s classical conditioning it refers to the withdrawal of reinforcement. If the food, which served as the reinforcer to keep the association between the bell and the food alive, was removed, extinction occurred. If the dog was subjected to this state for long i.e. the bell ringing without the accompaniment of the food then the stimulus-response connections were lost. In Skinner’s operant conditioning if the rat continued to press the bar without the accompaniment of food as a reinforcer this bar pressing behavior disappeared because the connections or associations between it and food was lost. This information can be applied in the classroom situation for the purpose of helping the teacher to understand the dynamics involved in forgetting and remembering. Just like Pavlov’s dogs and Skinners rats would forget the S-R associations they had learned, pupils too forget what they learn under similar principles. To promote remembering the teacher needs to ensure that learned material is rehearsed under conditions of reinforcement.

Rehearsal

Learners who do not rehearse content often lose the S-R connections they had learned. Rehearsing refers to the constant repetition and review of content. For rehearsal to benefit learners, the teacher should give them time and place to do their rehearsal (Study time).

The teacher should also ensure that the learners rehearse content, which is meaningful to them, because there is tendency to forget content if it is meaningless. There is the need to show learners how the content they are learning is related to what was learned earlier.

These activities help to stamp in the S-R connections already learned keeping them alive and hence minimizing forgetting.

Reinforcement

Remembering is best promoted if learning is reinforced. Withdrawal of reinforcement causes extinction, which is the disappearance of the learned response. If a learner displays the desirable behavior without being reinforced, forgetting occurs. The teacher should never lose sight of the fact that reinforcement strengthens behavior and makes it more probable. Making it mare probable means that that behavior is given the chance to occur again.

Interference model

This is another behavioristic explanation of forgetting. According to this model learners forget content that they learn because other learning’s interfere. For example learners will forget old content because new content interfere with its memory. They will also forget new content because old content interferes with its memory. When old content interferes with the memory of new content, we call this proactive inhibition. If new content interferes with the memory of old content we refer to this as retroactive inhibition.

Proactive inhibition

Proactive inhibition is the forgetting that occurs when old information makes it difficult to remember new information. For example a teacher gives learners a list of words and asks them to study it. Call it list A. The teacher does not test for the memory of this list at this time. He gives the learners another list of words to study. Call it list B. Then tests the learners on the recall of the second list of words (List B) not the first (List A).

What normally happens is that as the learners try to recall words on the second list they experience some mix-up. They remember some words and they forget others. At the same time some of the words from ‘list A’ are recalled. The words from ‘list A’ are said to interfere with the recall of List B. This interfere is called proactive inhibition.

Retroactive inhibition

Retroactive inhibition occurs when new learning’s make it difficult to remember old learning’s. For example, this occurs if a teacher gives learners lists of words to learn. First list A and then List B and then tests them on the recall of List A. As the learners try to recall words on List A some of the words will be forgotten and some of the words from list B will be recalled because the memory of B interferes with the memory of A. This interference is retroactive because later memory acts backwards to interference with earlier memory.

Proactive inhibition

Proactive inhibition is the forgetting that occurs when old information makes it difficult to remember new information. For example a teacher gives learners a list of words and asks them to study it. Call it list A. The teacher does not test for the memory of this list at this time. He gives the learners another list of words to study. Call it list B. Then tests the learners on the recall of the second list of words (List B) not the first (List A).

What normally happens is that as the learners try to recall words on the second list they experience some mix-up. They remember some words and they forget others. At the same time some of the words from ‘list A’ are recalled. The words from ‘list A’ are said to interfere with the recall of List B. This interfere is called proactive inhibition.

Retroactive inhibition

Retroactive inhibition occurs when new learning’s make it difficult to remember old learning’s. For example, this occurs if a teacher gives learners lists of words to learn. First list A and then List B and then tests them on the recall of List A. As the learners try to recall words on List A some of the words will be forgotten and some of the words from list B will be recalled because the memory of B interferes with the memory of A. This interference is retroactive because later memory acts backwards to interference with earlier memory.

Application

The teacher should take note that both retroactive and proactive interference are greater when the items in memory are similar.

Therefore to promote memory he should do the following:

  • Make new learning’s clear by bringing out the similarities and differences between the old and new information
  • A learning task must be practiced until it is mastered and even over learned. The principle is that partially learned tasks interfere more with other partially learned tasks.
  • Over learning means going beyond the mastery of a task and ensuring that the content is at the “finger tips”. This means that content can be recalled with ease

 

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