Behaviorism is based on the idea that knowledge is independent and on the exterior of the learner. In a behaviorist’s mind, the learner is a blank slate that should be provided with the information to be learnt.
Through this interaction, new associations are made, and thus learning occurs. Learning is achieved when the provided stimulus changes behavior. A non-educational example of this is the work done by Pavlov.
Through his famous “salivating dog” experiment, Pavlov showed that a stimulus (in this case, ringing a bell every time he fed the dog) caused the dog to eventually start salivating when he heard a bell ring.
The dog associated the bell ring with being provided with food, so any time a bell was rung, the dog started salivating, it had learned that the noise was a precursor to being fed.
A similar approach to classroom management.
I adapt my body language.
I have taught my students that if I stand in a specific place in the classroom with my arms folded, they know that I’m getting frustrated with the level of noise. They start to quieten down or if I sit cross-legged on my desk, I’m about to say something important, and supportive and they should listen because it affects them directly.
Behaviorism involves repeated actions, verbal reinforcement and incentives to take part. It is great for establishing rules, especially for behavior management.


In contrast to behaviorism, cognitivism focuses on the idea that students process the information they receive rather than just respond to a stimulus, as with behaviorism.
A behavior change is still evident, but this is in response to thinking and processing information.
Cognitive theories were developed in the early 1900s in Germany from Gestalt psychology by Wolfgang Kohler. In English, Gestalt roughly translates to the organization of something as a whole that is viewed as more than the sum of its individual parts.
Cognitivism has given rise to many evidence-based education theories, including cognitive load theory, schema theory and dual coding theory as well as being the basis for retrieval practice.
In cognitivism theory, learning occurs when the student reorganizes information by finding new explanations or adapting old ones.
This is viewed as a change in knowledge and is stored in the memory rather than just being viewed as a change in behavior. Cognitive learning theories are mainly attributed to Jean Piaget.
Examples of how teachers can include cognitivism in their classroom include linking concepts together, linking concepts to real-world examples, discussions, and problem-solving.


Constructivism is based on the premise that we construct learning new ideas based on our prior knowledge and experiences. Learning, therefore, is unique to the individual learner. Students adapt their models of understanding either by reflecting on prior theories or resolving misconceptions.
Students need to have a prior base of knowledge for constructivist approaches to be effective. Bruner’s spiral curriculum (see below) is a great example of constructivism in action.
As students construct their knowledge base, outcomes cannot always be anticipated; therefore, the teacher should check and challenge misconceptions that may have arisen. When consistent outcomes are required, a constructivist approach may not be the ideal theory.
Examples of constructivism in the classroom include problem-based learning, research and creative projects, and group collaborations.

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My educational beliefs align more with _____________ because ______________________.

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Behaviorism because I believe that we can change behavior with consistent feedback.
James Booth
I am unsure I need more information
Payton Post
I am a constructivist! Vygotsky was a genius!
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