Theory/Model/ Principle of Learning Key ideas Advantages Disadvantages
Behaviourism Stimulus-

Learning occurs as a change of behaviour due to a response to an outside stimulus.  This is re-enforced through a step-by-step continuous process of repetition, trial and error then reward.  The approach is Teacher-led/ centred and considers the learner as a passive recipient of the learning

For certain skills, and knowledge, or behaviour learning; the outcome is not flexible or open to interpretation.  Therefore needs to be taught from a behaviourist perspective.  An example of this could be when teaching first aid to medical professionals.  There is no room to change the learning or to make it flexible.  Learners must not interpret it in a different way.  It must be learned through repetition (with a simulation)/ practice and reinforcement and assessment.

It is easier to measure learning which is reinforced, practiced and assessed in this way.  The learners can or cannot do it in the end.  There is little room for doubt.  This makes behaviourism attractive as an approach for many situations.

The learning can be superficial.  There may be little evidence that that learner has grasped the fundamental knowledge or understanding required.  The learner may become proficient in repeating what has been taught with no idea of the context in which it would be used or any variables to the situation in which their learning could be applied.

For example, teaching a group of business students about supply and demand for business products/ services from a teacher-centred behaviourist approach may not encourage them to analyse the factors which would impact upon supply and demand, macro and micro economic factors, and wider business implications.  In some instances such as prescriptive approach to learning hinders creativity and problem solving.


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