Learning Theories Worksheet

Part I: Behavioral Conditioning

Imagine that you are a camp counselor or substitute teacher who is responsible for teaching a group of first-grade children.

  1. Explain how classical conditioning works differently than operant conditioning. Include an example of classical conditioning that happens at home that could influence a student’s behavior at camp or in the classroom.

Classical conditioning involves the reaction/response (conditioned stimulus) that is triggered by a certain action (unconditioned stimulus) to produce a particular behavioral response (conditioned response). In the simplest form, this can be understood by using an example that we best relate with prompting a particular behavior (Garren, Sexauer & Page, 2013). For example, at home when our mums prepare lunch and you can smell the aroma of the food (conditioned stimulus) one is likely to start thinking of eating lunch (unconditioned stimulus) leading to subsequent feeling of hunger (conditioned response). This process is repetitive in our daily experiences. On the other hand, operant conditioning entails the use of rewards and punishment in response to a particular behavior (Brembs & Heisenberg, 2000). Positive behaviors are bound to attract rewards while negative behaviors attract punishment. This cautions the first-graders to do the right thing and always behave positively to be acquire rewards on the completion of the event. The classical conditioning applied in camping is based on the need to uphold the set of rules to maintain safety and protection of all the participants.

  1. The “Classical and Operant Conditioning” video from the University Library describes several types of behavioral reinforcement. Each type of reinforcement has a different level of effectiveness. Describe how effective each type of reinforcement would be in this scenario:

When the children receive your signal, they will need to be prepared to stop what they’re doing, then listen for directions before moving to the next task.

Response rate: rate at which behavior repeats

Extinction rate: how soon the behavior stops

  1. Continuous: This will show a slow response to the signal but when the children are issued with directions will have a fast extinction to what they were doing. This prompts slow response and fast extinction of the current state to a new one.
  2. Fixed ratio: The fixed ratio depending on the number of repeated actions is likely to trigger a rapid response prompting the children to pay attention but induce medium extinction to what they were doing.
  3. Variable ratio: Similarly, to fixed ratio, the children will adopt a fast response to the directives issued by the teacher but will show slow extinction the activities they were engaged in prior to the directives.
  4. Fixed interval: This will trigger a medium extinction but a rapid response near time for reinforcement is bound to be experienced. That is, the children will forget and move on to new tasks faster as soon as the directives are issued.
  5. Variable interval: The children abound to pay attention to the teacher faster giving fast response to the new directives but slow extinction from the prior activities.
  6. Extinction: The rate in which the children stops doing what they were doing is in overall slow. However, after listening and being issued with new directives, they are likely to shift their attention fast to the new tasks and activities.
  7. How would you apply positive and negative reinforcement in the classroom to prepare them for the behavior in the scenario above?

A positive reinforcement application to the scenario in the classroom can be attained through complementing the children that slow a subsequent reaction to the directions issued. The capacity of the children to quickly adapt to the new instructions will be met with the teacher recognizing the child and presenting them in front of the others as a way to encourage similar reaction from all pupils.

A negative reinforcement will attract a punishment through reprimanding those that fail to recognize the new directives and conform accordingly. To deter such behavior, the teacher can illustrate the wrongness of failing to comply to the rest of the class. Consequently, cautioning the rest from attempting a similar behavior.

  1. Explain the type of reinforcement that would be the most effective to sustain the desired behavior in the scenario from question #2.

The fixed interval reinforcement is the most effective approach to sustain the desired behavior following the fact that the children are bound to rapidly respond to new instructions while in a medium form extinct their current behavior. This shows a positive trend in which the children respond to the instructions issued by the teacher. As well, the capacity to move on and forget their current activities is vital and impressive. Therefore, the fixed interval shows progressiveness as compared to retrogressive tendencies of new behavior.

Part II: Social-Cognitive Learning

Respond to the following prompts in complete sentences in approximately 175–260 words.

  1. Summarize the assumptions about human learning and agency that form the basis of social-cognitive theory.

The social-cognitive theory is based on several basic assumptions that determine its impact in learning. The first assumption denotes that learners can acquire new knowledge and behavior by observing another person, i.e., a model (Bandura, 2001). A model entails and individual whose character best resembles what one aspires to be or become. The second assumption indicates that learning is an internal process which may or may not materialize into a behavior. This implies that learning may not occur immediately after observing a behavior (Martin, 2004). For example, when observing a person dance perfectly does not imply that one will develop the behavior of a perfect dancer. In fact, it may never be achieved by a particular individual despite several attempts. The third assumptions entail the goal-directed behavior (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1996). This is a behavior developed by an individual by setting deliberate goals. This requires continuous attempts to attain the set objective which manifests in a form of behavior. Lastly, the fourth assumption entails the self-regulated behavior (Andersen & Chen, 2002). This comprise of behavior such as regulating the amount of food or drinks that one consumes. By self-regulating, one remains to be in control of the behavior and can be improved over time (Hurst, 2015). The benefits experienced in self-regulated behavior serve as an encouragement to continuous the course of self-regulation.

  1. Explain how you can apply social-cognitive learning theory to your own behavior to become more proactive in improving your self-efficacy and self-regulation skills as you pursue your college education and career path.

My application of social-cognitive learning theory would be based on two fundamental approaches to achieve proactive improvement of self-efficacy and self-regulation skills. First, the utilization of goal directed behavior in which would motivate me to become better. This is based on the need to succeed in my academics and a strong foundation for my career path. Therefore, by setting such resolute goals, I will continuous persist and persevere to work hard, dedicate more time to my studies, and maintain the sky as the limit (Zimmerman, 2013). This shows high level of determination to become successful in my studies – a behavior that will allow me to finish assignments on time, endure further learning, and take proactive measures to understand different concepts. Second, self-regulating by effectively managing time (Hurst, 2015). This is a critical skill that will enable a balance of learning, working, and social life. All the three components are essential for a well-rounded personality that I can develop. The capacity to develop such behavior is vital to becoming a reliable and self-efficient individual. Therefore, culminate into an industrious, committed, and focused personality.




Andersen, S. M., & Chen, S. (2002). The relational self: an interpersonal social-cognitive theory. Psychological review109(4), 619.

Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual review of psychology52(1), 1-26.

Brembs, B., & Heisenberg, M. (2000). The operant and the classical in conditioned orientation of Drosophila melanogaster at the flight simulator. Learning & Memory7(2), 104-115.

Garren, M. V., Sexauer, S. B., & Page, T. L. (2013). Effect of circadian phase on memory acquisition and recall: operant conditioning vs. classical conditioning. PloS one8(3), e58693.

Hurst, M. (2015). Social-cognitive learning theory: Definition and examples. Psychology102.

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1996). Career development from a social cognitive perspective. Career choice and development3, 373-421.

Martin, J. (2004). Self-regulated learning, social cognitive theory, and agency. Educational psychologist39(2), 135-145.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2013). From cognitive modeling to self-regulation: A social cognitive career path. Educational psychologist48(3), 135-147.

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