Educational Psychology Quiz 1

By John Schweitzer

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Conditioning (image fark.com)

There are two types of conditioning: operant and classical conditioning. Educational Psychology defines classic conditioning as “the learning of involuntary emotional or psychological responses such as fear, increased muscle tension, salvation or sweating” (Educational Psychology 257). Classical conditioning was discovered through Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs in 1920. Pavlov was interested in the time it takes dogs to secrete digestive juices after feeding time. Eventually the dogs would salivate upon hearing the sound of a scientist walking towards them, which they associated with feeding time. Before, the dogs would salivate while being fed and then once they saw the food. The stimulus of hearing the scientists coming towards them previously had no effect and the dogs were classically conditioned to react to the sounds of scientists walking.

First introduced in 1953 by B. F. Skinner, operant conditioning is defined as the way people “learn to behave in certain ways as we operate on the environment” (Educational Psychology 257). Behavior can be explained by particular actions having a consequence. The effect of the consequence strengthens a behavior to make it consistent. Examples of this can be far fetched. Anything from teachers rewarding desired actions to the criminal justice system punishing undesirable actions are examples of operant conditioning
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Social Learning Theory (image thinklink.com)

Social learning theory is a collection of work done by Albert Bandura. Bandura questioned operant conditioning and introduced a concept that sounds extremely similar called enactive learning, which is defined as “doing and experiencing the consequences of your actions” (Educational Psychology 279). Instead of believing that consequences instill a desired action, Bandura believed consequences provide people with information on what to expect. Bandura wanted to further explain these concepts so he did an experiment with bobo dolls and preschool children. In it, he showed a model attacking the doll and having one of three possible outcomes. One group saw the model rewarded for beating the doll, one saw the model punished and the third saw nothing happen to the doll as a result of his actions. As expected, the group who saw the model punished were the least aggressive towards the bobo doll in real life while the group who saw the model rewarded were the least aggressive. However, if the children were offered a reward for being aggressive towards the doll, every single kid beat the doll in every group. This shows how Bandura believes that learning can happen but not appear until an appropriate situation arises and that “incentives can affect performance” (Childhood Psychology 279).

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Information Processing Theory (image johnnygoodtimes.com)

Information processing theory relates a human mind to a computer for how memory works. “Like the computer, the human mind takes in information, performs operations on it to change its form and content, stores the information retrieves it when needed, and generates responses to it” (Childhood Psychology 292). Yet, this is not a complete assessment on how exactly the human mind works. Humans have short and long-term memory and in order for a memory to go into long-term storage, it must first be encoded. In information processing theory, the environment is constantly producing external stimuli for each sense. The information is encoded into short-term memory and can go into long-term memory when combined with effort and other long-term memories. Some examples of this that help clarify the theory include studying for a test,, or dramatic experiences. Whenever a dramatic experience occurs, enough effort is produced from constantly thinking about it that it is encoded in long-term memory. This could be anything from the smell of a dead rat to the feeling of joy at a wedding. Critics of the model have proved in incomplete because it does not “explain how out-of-awareness memories could happen simultaneously, like many small computers operating in parallel” (Educational Psychology 293).