EDS 103: Module 3.1 Behaviorism

image source: www.linkedin.com
image source: http://www.linkedin.com

Behavior is one of the most abused or misunderstood word from the places I have been and I was never quite exposed to the many facets of behavior until now.  In like tones, having to deal with this module, opened another window in my mind as I could, for the first time in the course, actually envision myself in a teaching capacity. Perhaps this IS the behavior that the module intended for me to realize and eventually exhibit.  True enough I started to think how much of theories of behaviorism is being applied to me now, as a learner, and I am even tempted to try to monitor my personal behavioral development from hereon.

As a manager and leader, we were trained to base performance evaluation on behaviors (for example, at least 90% achievement of sales quota, timeliness and accuracy of monthly reports) as this called for objective and measurable parameters.  Back then, many of my peers mistook attitude for behaviors and would then set expectations on a lot of subjectivity.

A typical scenario would be an employee who always comes in late for work.  His superior may start watching his time-in and try to change this behavior providing incentive for not being late (positive reinforcement) or begin salary deduction for the fraction of the day he missed (negative reinforcement).

If the same employee, instead of considering to make some changes to keep his job, starts rationalizing his tardiness by blaming the traffic and other road conditions, he may have an attitude problem that cannot be addressed by behavioral change.  This might be one for the counselors to tackle…

The same is true for an employee who fails to achieve his sales quota, with the defense that at least he has gained rapport with his clientele. Rapport is both subjective and not measurable.

Bringing home the concept of behaviors is like having to raise teens, who would often test how far they can go against parental authority by breaking the rules.  Most parents are not that inflexible on rules, because at the end of day, what matters is a change in behavior as a habit or way of doing things.  True enough I always catch myself telling my daughter that “she will hate me so much but I will never stop nagging till she gets it” (i.e., changes a behavior).

Recently, I’ve also had experience seeing behaviors like classic conditioning when we home-schooled a puppy into doghood.  I was particularly fond of giving human food to our dog, until one day, he stopped eating his dogfood.  To correct this, aside from altogether stopping from giving human foods, we had to retrain his eating a fixed schedule and take his bowl away if he becomes picky.  Eventually, this forced him to follow the schedule to prevent starvation.

Going back to raising children, it was way easier for behavioral modification to be instilled at home when kids were younger.  Aside from the fact that there was more time at home, parental authority and control rules over a child’s kingdom, until she reaches puberty. School, peer groups and the overall external environment have a better and more permanent way of changing behaviors onwards to adulthood.

A perfect example of this is how adults typically behave when they are brokenhearted. The world around a heartbroken adult finds its way to dictate on him a litany of strategies to mend his broken heart, ranging from getting drunk to going into a relationship on rebound.  Women may even rational positive reinforcement by impulsive shopping.

Fast-forward into the future and putting myself in the shoes of a newbie teacher about to embark on a journey of teaching and getting satisfaction from students’ learning, I am putting together wish-list of things I want to do, as gleaned from the current lessons:

  1. Formulate behavioral objectives that will make the entire lesson plan achievable.
  2. Identify fear factors and implement desensitizing activities.
  3. Look out for both individual and class (category-type) behaviors in developing meaningful strategies that will encourage students to do their best.
  4. To get good responses, I must provide good stimuli. Consistency is key to behavior modification.

Now I can truly appreciate what it means to behave.

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