Learning Theories

Radical Behaviorism

Radical behaviorism is a philosophy that uses the experimental analysis in order to describe behavior. It was developed by psychologist known as Skinner. He tried to explain human behavior scientifically using physiological studies that were available at that time. He concluded that every action of organism was the result of behavior. The theory also says that the environment is a primary cause of the organism’s behavior. In addition, it uses operant conditioning and emphasizes on scheduled reinforcement for behavior change.        

Pavlov realized that there were some things that a dog did not need to learn, such as salivation, when it saw food. In behavioral terms, it is called the unconditioned response. He showed this by presenting the dog and food in a bowl and measured dog’s saliva (McLeod, 2007). The researcher came to the conclusion that the dog would have the same behavior regarding food and, thus, made the important discovery in science. He knew that the dog in the laboratory had associated the lab assistant with food. It was learnt because such behavior had not been observed earlier, and it manifested only with time. This happened as the result of behavior change according to the study.

In terms of behaviorists, the laboratory technician was a neutral stimulus at first. He had no response. Later, the neutral stimulus was associated with food, which is the unconditioned stimulus. In his continued experiments, Pavlov used a bell like another neutral stimulus. Giving food to his dogs, he could ring the bell. He repeated this for a number of times and then rang the bell without giving food. As expected, the bell ringing caused salivation in dogs. The dog learned to associate the bell with food. This behavior was studied and named the conditioned response (McLeod, 2007).

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Radical Behaviorist Approach vs. Cognitive Information Processing Theory

Radical behaviorism scope is based on the observable empirical data like behavior change, which is identifiable. It does not address learning that happens in the mind. Cognitive information processing theory looks at memory and the way learning and knowledge are stepped from sensory to long-term memory.

Radical behaviorism uses operant behavior as well as reinforcers in modifying behavior. Cognitive information processing (CIP) views learning by looking at the cognitive processing milestones such as perception, forgetting, encoding, attention and retrieval.

Radical behaviorism assists in class management as well as setting instruction objectives. It has also provided a personalized instruction system, computer-based training as well as teaching machines. CIP assists in organizing instructions; it has a model that enhances encoding for more efficient methods of retaining knowledge.

Radical behaviorism uses stickers to complete the work that is done. Learners write their own evaluation. CIP gives justification of various language input activities. Materials can be organized to aid in recalling. New vocabularies could also be transformed for better memorization.

If the cognitive information theory was used in the Pavlov’s dog experiment, the results could be different. The theory tends to look more at the cognitive processes such as memory retention, attention and retrieval while the behavioral concept pays attention to reinforcers that modify behavior.

Radical Behaviorist Approach vs. Meaningful Learning and Schema Theory

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Radical behaviorism is founded on empirical evidence such as change in behavior, which can be recognized. It does not consider learning that takes place in the mind. Schema theory looks at the cognitive categories that organize knowledge.

Radical behaviorism utilizes reinforces in changing behavior and operant behavior, as well, while schematic theory makes use of cognitive processing in changing and creating the knowledge internal categories. It argues that knowledge becomes acquired, automated, managed and automated for the input of cognitive load.

Radical behaviorism helps in defining learning objectives and classroom management. It has also ensured a personalized training system, learning on the basis of computers and teaching machines. Schematic theory uses schema signals and advanced organizers to activate previous knowledge. Via this method, teachers would facilitate students’ access to prior knowledge and use in other contexts.

Radical behaviorism makes use of signs to finish the work. Students write their reviews about it. Schema theory assists those, who learn language for the first time. It helps bridge the gap between learners and target language. It also activates the previous passive learning into skills that can be demonstrated. It assists students in transferring class and independent study to authentic language, as well.

Radical theory could be used in the Pavlov’s dog experiment as it involves the use of reinforcers to modify behavior. On the other hand, schematic theory could not yield any results as it aims at creating and changing knowledge. Its representatives are certain of knowledge as acquired, managed and automated for cognitive load.

Radical Behaviorist Approach vs. Situated Cognition Theory

Radical behaviorists believe that a learner resembles a black box, and nobody knows what happens between stimulus and response. They believe that the behavioral response may occur if there is positive reinforcement and may weaken when negative reinforcement is applied. Situated cognition theory argues that knowledge is the result of interaction between learner, learning activity and situation (Korjus et al., 2000).

Radical behaviorists claim that the instructor is responsible for the development of objectives, the environment’s structure and content to enable the learner show the desired behavior. In situated cognition, they argue that learners play a significant role in cognition. It is a learner-centered approach. The interaction between learner, environment and learning activities is essential.

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Radical behaviorists do not believe in the existence of the mind as it cannot be observed. Their main concern is what a learner can do instead of what he knows. The main principle of radical behaviorist approach is to maintain behavior that is accomplished by reinforcement. Situated cognition argues that it is not necessary to memorize as knowledge is always constructed and not fixed (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  

If situated cognition was used in the Pavlov’s dog experiment, it could not bring the results. Unlike the behavioral theory, where assessment is done by looking at the achievement of a certain behavior, their mode of assessment is aimed at knowledge and skills transfer in portfolios and diagnosis (Driscoll, 2000).

Modified Approach vs. Three Previous Theories

Radical behaviorism looks at the observable behavioral change and does not look at the learning processes that take place in the mind. It aims at incorporating motivation to the learner in order to obtain behavior change. On the other hand, cognitive theory is directed at focusing on what happens in the mind of learner. It aims at focusing on how learning moves from the sensory part to long-term memory. In its turn, schema theory focuses on the cognitive part, which organizes the knowledge. The modified approach will encompass all the above theories and aim at combining motivation with impacting knowledge and skills for the learner in order to get the desired results of a knowledgeable person, who accomplish things in a different way.

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