Oct 23 2010

Thought question #1

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The question of how to incorporate behaviourist learning theory into instructional design is one that retained my attention. Good course design, especially in an online setting, is vital because students have no third party to guide them in their learning. We all know that students are likely to drop a course if they feel frustrated and lack support. I think class routines have to be built into online courses. Behaviourist techniques might be well suited for this purpose. For instance, students must be encouraged to move from one unit to another in a timely fashion. Deadlines are set not only ensure a course is completed by a certain date, but to encourage a student to move to the next level of learning. The stimulus can be marks given or marks removed for meeting deadlines (positive or negative stimuli). Observation is made easier with a CMS’ statistical function where the instructor can verify how often and when students are accessing the course. Date stamps can be put on assignments as they are submitted through a drop box.

In order to reconcile behaviourist techniques with my personal learning theory, I reflected on how to give students a chance to fail without fear of negative consequences. The stimulus has to make them want to go on to the next step without being penalized for their mistakes as they learn the new behaviour (for example recording accounting transactions). This might be accomplished with formative exercises or assessments that once mastered can move the student on to a summative assessment. Points can be awarded for formative assessment results that fall within a certain range so that the student might keep those points as part of an overall average or progress to a higher level without needing additional summative assessment.

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