Behaviorism and Adults

This week’s topic in one of my classes is behaviorism.  I always think of behaviorism as something that works best with children-reinforcing positive behavior, allowing natural consequences to take care of most negative behavior.

When we were asked to apply behaviorist approaches to our work in the “real world,” I was stumped.  I work in technology training, and I always thought that that meant a cognitive or constructionist approach. I stated as much but then my professor reminded me that behaviorism applies to learning that needs to become automatic in the learner.

This really got me thinking, but I confess that I don’t know that it’s all that simple.  Yes, you want the learners to complete certain tasks almost automatically-no thinking required.  But what about all the situations where the learners needs to make decisions or problem-solve?

In manufacturing, our learners apply those skills daily.  Many of those decisions can have significant impacts on expensive equipment or employee safety or in correcting costly errors.  So, I still don’t think it’s behaviorism all the way.  Perhaps it really is a combined approach.


One thought on “Behaviorism and Adults

  1. Hi Laura,

    I too believe it is a combined approach where it’s both. With manufacturing, and same goes for my field, we expect people to have a problem solving approach, but in the beginning we had to change people behavior of if not knowing something to guess but to instead use available resources and openly admit not knowing what to do. It’s ok to not know something and be honest about it where some companies that was looked at as weakness or a problem. For the person that needs to make decisions, some of it also comes from building confidence and learning how the person came to that conclusion to see if training is needed.


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