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.