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Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice


The work of a teacher is multifaceted and involves a set of very different duties, obligations, and tasks. A teacher is to promote and deliver knowledge, know how to assess and improve the learning process of the students, evaluate their own performance, and that of the children. Also, a teacher works with a group of students as a community or a small society which they are to supervise and monitor. That way, a teacher is in charge of a small model of the human society with all the essential interactions and dynamics. That is why it is crucial that an educator is aware of the harmful and useful behaviors and knows how to model, teach, and acknowledge them. This paper explores such issues and the behavior of the students as explained by the theories of classical and operant conditioning as well as the problem of gender bias in class that may result in multiple misperceptions and wrongful trends.

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Behavioral Learning Theory

In reviewing your text and the videos, please compare and contrast the concepts of both Pavlov and Skinner. Do you feel that Classical Conditioning or Operant Conditioning is more useful in a classroom setting? Please explain your views by using real-world examples.

The Russian scientist called Ivan Pavlov founded the classical conditioning approach that is based on conditioned, neutral, and unconditioned stimuli. The latter is the type of stimulus that produces an automatic reaction in the subject without training whereas the neutral stimulus is the one that does not produce a reaction (Slavin, 2015). Operant conditioning observed by Skinner proposed another set of relations – those of behaviors and their consequences; so that the positive outcomes drive learning to repeat the behavior, and the negative ones discourage the behavior.

Operant conditioning is more useful in a classroom setting where the positive and negative reinforcement is present in a form of praise and punishment in order to condition the behaviors of the students (How to Use Operant conditioning in your classroom, n. d). Compared to classical conditioning that relies on the presence of an unconditioned stimulus, operant conditioning is applicable in situations where such stimulus is unavailable. For example, at school, children cannot be conditioned with treats and pleasant activities; that is why there is the need for some other types of positive reinforcement.

Based on your reading in your text and from the videos, please explain the role of consequences and reinforcers in today’s classroom settings. Please discuss how you can use either intrinsic/extrinsic reinforcers, punishers, shaping, and schedules or reinforcement with students today. Please explain your views by using real-world examples

Reinforcers are divided into two categories – the primary (basic values such as food, warmth, and security) and secondary (those that are valued due to being associated with the primary reinforcers such as knowledge or money) (Slavin, 2015). Both types of reinforcers can be applied in a classroom. There are several types of reinforcers and punishers – positive and negative reinforcements, no reinforcement, removal, and presentation punishment. They can be applied at different times during a lesson. For example, positive reinforcement is a reward; and negative reinforcement is used when a teacher gives out additional tasks to those who were late for class (not to do additional work, children come on time). No reinforcement (or ignoring) can be applied to discourage certain behaviors. For example, a student may stop acting out when they do not get a desired reaction from the teacher. Removal punishment works through the elimination of a student who misbehaved from an enjoyable activity – for example, a two minute time out for one child during a game or playtime.

Gender Bias and Education

Slavin (2015) notes that gender is a visible characteristic of a child most of the time. Also, each society and community traditionally operates based on the differences between the people of the two genders. As a result, gender roles and expectations are assigned and taught to children as norms of behavior. Adults may have different perceptions of the people around them due to their genders. Slavin (2015) presents a report that male and female students tend to have certain success patterns when it comes to particular subjects (men score higher on math, women – on language studies and literature). Chapman (n. d.) also noted that overall boys are perceived as lower performers than girls. A biased teacher is likely to show stereotypic expectations from the students (Scantlebury, 2009). This is a dangerous feature for an educator as it may lead to inadequate assessment and evaluation of the learners’ academic performance and overall abilities.

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For instance, a biased teacher may select only boys to participate in a math competition and thus discourage girls from trying to show better results in this discipline. Another example would be a teacher expecting female students to have better grades and being more demanding in reference to them than to the male students and unwillingly enforce a stereotype in the classroom that would divide the students based on gender and make their sex the representation of their intellectual abilities. In such class, girls would be criticized more, and the nature of praise would differ depending on the genders of the students. The most challenging aspect of gender bias in a teacher is that it is unconscious and may be difficult to detect during self-evaluation. Also, it may be seen as “normal” in a community, and in this case, it could be impossible to identify even with the help of a peer’s feedback.


Chapman, A. (n. d.). Gender Bias in Education. Web.

How to Use Operant conditioning in your classroom. (n. d). Web.

Scantlebury, K. (2009). Gender Bias in Teaching. Web.

Slavin, R. E. (2015). Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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