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My Behavioral Theory Experience

Updated on February 28, 2013

Eric J. Specht February 25, 2013

As a young child, I was unaware of the teaching strategies that teachers use to aid students with educational acquisitions. This discussion, about classical and operant conditioning, reminds me of an approach my science teacher used in his classroom to improve student engagements.

Classical Conditioning

My seventh grade science teacher, Mr. Budd, was a short and stocky in stature and more than often held stern and serious facial expressions, which instantaneously encourage students to behave. However, he did crack a smile now and again, told a joke to refresh stagnant air, and made you feel proud to participate when he gently placed his firm hand on your shoulder. Using merely his stature and expressions, students feared the consequences if they misbehaved, but his disposition encouraged participation. According to Pavlov’s behavioral theory (LeFrancois, 2011, pp. 145-146), I experienced classical condition or the process of unconsciously changing or adapting my behavior, in as little as a few weeks.

Operant Conditioning

However, Mr. Budd also emitted stimuli that caused his students to respond, or operant conditioning (LeFrancois, 2011). He would always walk around the class with his textbook in hand looking over the students shoulders as he would teach, which may have racked some of the student’s nerves simply because of the nature uncertainty provokes, especially students new to his class. However, the purpose was to provoke student attentiveness, because if you were not paying attention, Bam! He would slam his textbook on your desk to reel the daydreamer back into reality. I did not twitch or flinch every time it happened; I just became attentive more than usual when he would pace the floor .


Although his intentions were good, I am sure that some students mistakenly dreaded the science class. Slamming the textbook on the daydreamer’s desk was an ideal tactic because it increased the response Mr. Budd was attempting to achieve, which was to gain student engagement by discouraging inattentive habits, but some students may think of the tactic as a punishment. Punishment reduces the behavior, but the experience is not positive (LeFrancois, 2011, pp. 156-157).

A Noble teacher

However, I believe the teaching approach or strategy worked positively well, because most of the seventh grade students had Mr. Budd as an eighth grade science teacher too, which meant there were less times the textbook was slammed on the desk, but more importantly an increase in student engagements.


LeFrancois, G. (2011, n/a n/a). Pshchology for Teaching. San Diego, California, United States: Bridgepoint Education. (e-book) Retrieved from


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    • ejspecht profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Ahh...yes thank you for the correction. I rely too much on spell check and grammar.

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 

      5 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      I think you mean 'noble', not 'nobel'.


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