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.

Module 2 : Theories of Intelligence

image source: www.msad54.org
image source: http://www.msad54.org

It’s either I am truly old school or I must have lived in a different planet for many, many years – to be so surprised that intelligence is much more than the academic proficiency that I grew to believe in. Those readings have touched one sensitive chord after another, as I felt like I have just stepped into a new dimension of learning altogether.

I have to admit that intelligence to mean academic proficiency or high IQ was a characteristic that people my age coveted so much, because it translated to fame, fortune and even a secure and loving relationship. To NOT be intelligent meant an ugliness that was deeper than being physically deprived.

For me, intelligence, as I have just recently reviewed on, is a fusion of past and current information, skills, competencies, experiences and behaviors that have been processed and are therefore what our minds use to function productively. And because it’s an on-going abstract, intelligence improves, or deteriorates, over time, depending on the future interfaces that we have in our lives. This was a focal point of Psychologist WJ Schneider when he said “there is no better predictor of future learning than past learning.” 1

I feel it is also a function of age that we tend to value MORE cystrallized intelligence when we are younger; and placed more premium on theory over practice.  I remember in my days of managing workforces and was in-charge of hiring new people, I was unfairly attracted to applicants who could get high marks on the exams and answered interview questions with perfect grammar and eloquence.  Of course, eventually, management practices have evolved into searching for people with fluid intelligence and those who were good at problem-solving and critical analysis.

However, I can also now appreciate why these intelligence tests have been used in detecting learning disabilities, as an objective measure of not just academic but behavioral dimensions.   Whether we like it or not, there is almost always a genetic link in learning disabilities and this internal factor is indeed a reality that family and society have to accept. I recall my developmental pediatrician referred to this reality as “permanent wiring” of the genes of two high achievers that led to the autism of my son Jason. At that time, it certainly felt like neural intelligence was the only thing my child will be getting for his life.

I was wrong.

It is comforting to note that there are far more external interventions which can applied and developed, out of which learning can still progress and intelligence can be taught. In regular school, my son learned a lot through experience and interaction with people.  While he may not ever catch on any form of reflective intelligence, I truly appreciate that he can now exist quite independently and is able to make simple decisions.

Finally, I am amazed that more adults are now being made aware of multiple intelligences , happy that I am not the only one looking to discover more about myself unto old age. But I realize I also need to learn more about what kind of a learner I am before being able to decipher different forms of intelligence I possess.  Some of the learning styles tests I took indeed validated each other.

source: http://vark-learn.com/strategies/readwrite-strategies/
source: http://vark-learn.com/strategies/readwrite-strategies/

The USCN 2 learning styles scales showed that I was predominantly “global and less sequential; that I need to see a big picture then study details to get the idea (deductive learning). In the same vein,  VARK 3 and Learning styles inventory proved how much I rely on visuals and written methods to learn and be able to process any new learning.

learning styles test
source: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htmge source:

I think the more relevant questions to ask at this point are: Given these learning styles, what kind of a teacher will I be? Can I still modify my learning style, to become  a versatile teacher of the future?

 

 

 

References:

  1. SB Kaufman, Feb 2014. What do IQ tests test? An interview with Psychologist WJ Schneider.
  2. http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm
  3. http://vark-learn.com/strategies/readwrite-strategies/

 

Module 1: Theories of Learning

image source: gettingsmart.com
image source: gettingsmart.com

I could have sworn Roberts, in his video on What is Learning (2013), looked me in the eye when he said, you are an adult returning to learn. Indeed, I am finding myself having to worry about learning now, than decades ago, when I was younger and more energetic. But I have yet to include age as a factor in learning since I now have the specific advantage of life experiences and examples – putting me to a test of wits as I reflect on this module about learning.

Learning is indeed a very personal thing, and for me, I think it’s almost the discomfort of something new or maybe even a rude awakening or jolt. This is not to state that I approach learning negatively.  There was a time but I was a laggard at new things and tend to defend old-school modes until I get outdated. It was good that I started to have kids because if I didn’t, my transition into the digital world would have been way slower than the internet speed of the country’s ISPs. I must admit not all learnings are pleasant but almost all learnings have been necessary to make me understand the world better. (Smith, 2003 ‘Learning Theory’ the encyclopedia of informal education)

I was very fascinated with the Venn Diagram on learning and teaching from Atherton (2013), and have identified myself to be in that one learner’s shoes. I believe that the mind chooses which information to process, with convenience, for sustained learning. This also expresses how our minds behave when we are faced with learning matters of personal interest, as opposed to forced learning.

Atherton, JS (2013) Learning and Teaching: What is Learning
Atherton, JS (2013) Learning and Teaching: What is Learning

I know that if everybody had their way, implicit learning will be favored over conscious and formal learning, simply because it’s almost like human nature. There is fluidity of words and actions when we are unconsciously learning and we like the feeling of accomplishment, with least effort, along the way.  Of course this is wishful thinking, as we mature and discover that, to lead productive lives, one must develop his/her full potential and competencies to perform a myriad of responsibilities in this world. (Huitt, 2011. Why study educational psychology? Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA.)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom ( https://web.archive.org/web/20100211014419/http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/maslow.htm)
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom ( https://web.archive.org/web/20100211014419/http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/maslow.htm)

Looking upon learning as a process has a lot to do with where you are in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where I am definitely at the self-actualization stage.  Now I can finally declare the life is a learning continuum, and that I cannot seek to just impart knowledge and skills but I must also learn from learners and adopt new strategies to seek my full potential.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs)

On the other hand, I don’t have a full grasp as yet on the specific kind of teacher I want to be, but here are some thoughts of what skills and competencies I would like to have:

  • Be a good resource person. I feel I will inspire, motivate and gain respect by first and foremost, having a mastery of my field.
  • Be more facilitating than lecturing. I want to learn how to do positive provocations and lead learners to understand from differing perspectives.
  • Do more interactive teaching methodologies for livelier discussions.
  • Lessen unnecessarily high expectations and seek to understand individual idiosyncrasies.

I feel we have our very own “hidden curriculum” in the local setting and I would be delighted to be assigned to work on ‘labelling’ and its effects on a person’s future education or work.  Some ironic laughter is at the background for me, as I have been a victim of being told I was poor in Math since grade school and for that, I have never tried harder than a passing grade.  It would be really interesting to view survey results and interviews to investigate this hypothesis. I know I will get to also know myself even more in the process.

Thank you for giving me these opportunities to learn everyday!