Behaviourism has been around as a theory since the 19th century, this page is not to teach you all about the theory but rather how it applies to my practice in the past and in the future.

It refers to the idea that a combination of repetitive practice and contstant reward (or punishment) can generate a desired change in behaviour.  Some early behaviourists include Ivan Pavlov who is most famous for making dogs salivate at the sound of a bell ringing and B.F. Skinner who performed research on human subjects and proposed a learning machine.  The theory is centred on the teacher rather than the learner and assumes that all the knowledge that the learner needs is already decided by the teacher (Jordan & Clark, 2008).  Although learning theory has moved on there are certain situations where it still applies today.

Putting it into Practice – How I use behaviourism

I teach a concept called IP Addressing, which is used to calculate and generate network addresses for computers.  A lot of the addressing requires converting decimal numbers to binary values and back again.  As part of the teaching I often provide the students with IP addressing workbooks (Sakar, 2006).  In these I provide the students with examples which they can refer to, which gradually become problems for them to try on their own after practicing using the completed problems.  At the end of the practice there is an online test which gives them marks towards their final course mark.  It should be noted that this form of instruction also incorporates another type of learning theory see if you can guess what it is (answer is here)

A couple of example pages of the workbook are below


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A short video clip from youtube which I feel illustrates the theory with humour


Jordan, A. Carlile, O. & Stack, A. (2008) Approaches to Learning. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Sarkar, N. I. (2006). Teaching computer networking fundamentals using practical laboratory exercises. Education, IEEE Transactions on, 49(2), 285-291.




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All my material from my MSc in Applied E-Learning

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