Showing posts with label choice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choice. Show all posts

October 15, 2018

From Behaviorism to Constructivism: People are more than Numbers

Enjoy my module 2 synthesis post:

Articles assigned:

  • A. Watters, Educational Technology & Skinner's Box
  • I. Illich, Deschooling Society, Ch. 6
  • S. Papert, The Children's Machine, Ch. 7
  • L. Cuban, [OTA] Public School Teachers Using Machines…

Instructor suggested questions [bolded]:
Where else do we see behaviorism picked up throughout the history of ed. Tech?

What is behaviorism is my first question:
“Behaviorism refers to a psychological approach which emphasizes scientific and objective methods
of investigation. The approach is only concerned with observable stimulus-response behaviors, and 
states all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment.” Further it states:
  • “All behavior is learned from the environment”
  • “Psychology should be seen as a science”
  • “Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable behavior, as opposed to internal events like
     thinking and emotion”
  • “There is little difference between the learning that takes place in humans and that in other animals”
  • “Behavior is the result of stimulus-response”

Who was Seymour Papert?
“Papert has been considered the world's foremost expert on how technology can provide new ways to 
learn and teach mathematics, thinking in general, and other subjects.”
Wikipedia: Seymour Aubrey Papert was a South African-born American mathematician, computer 
scientist, and educator, who spent most of his career teaching and researching at MIT. He was one of
the pioneers of artificial intelligence, and of the constructionist movement in education.”

Why was Larry Cuban writing for the OTA, whatever that was?
Photo illustration by Derek Brahney. Source image of painting: Bridgeman Images.
Image is from the blog post “Personalized Learning”: The Difference between a Policy and a Strategy”:

The “OTA” is the Office of Technology Assessment for the United States government that was in action
from 1972 to 1995 when it was defunded (OTA Archive at When searching further
into this website archive, I was amazed at the number of publications produced by this team on a
broad range of technology applications.

Larry Cuban is professor emeritus in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford. He studies the
area of technology integration and assessment; and school reform through technology integration. He
keeps a blog which appears very active. He was writing for the OTA because the OTA if a facilitating
body of the US Government and they needed his expertise in the area of educational technology
integration and assessment.

How can we link these readings back to those in Module 1?

In module 1, our readings centered on how “things,” such as technology and educational innovations,
have implications both intended and unintended from how the designers create the product. Innovations
have politics and many early innovations were directly related to increasing efficiency of the system.
People and things were pieces to these systems that could be controlled, adjusted, and modified.
Sometimes human differences and emotions were not considered, and most certainly minority or
special populations needing accommodations and differences were not accounted for. As we move
into Module 2, we can see that the “politics” of artifacts is expanded and researchers begin to account
for people as more than just numbers and for production. People began to become the focus in many
systems. While efficiency is important, researchers realized that there are many factors that can
impact a system and some things cannot be measured by numbers and in a “neat little box”. The
underlying principles of behaviorism is still ever present as a backbone to our field, but we can begin
to see constructivist principles emerging, and we can most definitely see its emergence in the follow
up posts on Cuban and Papert’s personal websites.

As we move away from behaviorism and integrate more constructivist thoughts on learning and
technology integration, we see the following changes in the researchers approaches:

“All behavior is learned from the environment”
Behavior is a combination of environmental factors
and personal human factors
“Psychology should be seen as a science”
Psychology is a science and an art; there is room
for multiple “truths” to a situation
“Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable
behavior, as opposed to internal events like thinking
and emotion”
We are concerned with observable behavior and
internal events like emotion, more equally
“There is little difference between the learning that
takes place in humans and that in other animals”
Humans learn in ways more complex than animals
do and there are many differences in our learning
“Behavior is the result of stimulus-response”
Behaviour is the result of choice, stimulus, emotions,
and many other internal and external factors
combined for that precise situation (and could
change for a number of factors, at a different moment
in time, or in a different environment)

How have the authors of these pieces reflected on what they wrote, now decades later (I assure you, they have).
They each have websites and have written reflective pieces comparing the past to the present methods
of teaching; they are continually updating their theory and applying it to current issues in education.

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