Compared Learning Theories Essay example

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Compared and Contrasted Learning Theories
Andrew Albert
Northwestern Connecticut Community College

This paper compares and contrasts Ivan Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning, B.F. Skinners theory of operant conditioning, and Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning researched both offline (Text book) and online (Internet). This paper is going to show similarities between all three theories and the differences. This paper is also going to place into perspective with our modern society how these theories are practiced in day to day life.

Ethical Genetic Studies There are many theories based on how we as humans learn from the moment we are born. Through this paper we are going to only focus on a small group of theories and how they are similar and different, and how we apply these theories to our everyday lives. The theories that we are going to explore are the theory of classical conditioning by Ivan Pavlov, the theory of operant conditioning by B.F. Skinner and the theory of social learning by Albert Bandura. Ivan Pavlov’s theory of classical condition is “a reflexive or automatic type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus.” (Classical Conditioning (Pavlov) Learning Theories). In Pavlov’s experiments he was using dogs to find the role of saliva in the digestive process, but realized by accident that the dogs’ reactions to the trainers changed over time to realize that they were about to be fed before they were actually fed. The dogs came to realize that by certain actions of the trainers that food was present or about to be present. There was a clicking that the machine produced before the meat powder was released. Pavlov being intrigued with these findings introduced a bell which began as a neutral stimulus into his experiment. When the bell first rang there was no response, but over time as the bell was rang before the dogs received food, the dogs then began to realize that the bell meant food was to follow. In Pavlov’s experiments the food is the unconditioned stimulus, the dog’s salivation is the unconditioned response, the bell becomes the conditioned stimulus which in turn produces the conditioned response of salivation. B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning is based on the theory that “the organism, while going about its everyday activities, is in the process of “operating” on the environment. In the course of its activities, the organism encounters a special kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or simply a reinforcer. The special stimulus has the effect of increasing the behavior occurring just before the reinforcer. This is operant conditioning.” (Theories of Learning in Educational Psychology, Sunny Cooper). Based on Skinner’s theory the independent variable is the schedule of reinforcement which means that different schedules for reinforcement have different results on what affect you are expecting out of the training. The dependent variables include the acquisition rate which is how quickly an animal can be trained as a function of the reinforcement, the rate of response, which is the rate in which an animal will learn based on the schedule of reinforcement, and the extinction rate, which is the rate for the operant response to stop following the stopping of a reinforcement. There are a lot of nuances to Skinner’s operant conditioning theory. Albert Bandura’s social learning theory is based on the “importance of observational learning, imitation and modeling. His theory integrates a continuous interaction between behaviors, cognitions and the environment.” (Bandura Biography, Cherry, K). Bandura’s theories were based on the thought that you need no encouragement or counseling to form your own actions. In his most famous experiment, children were shown a video of a woman “beating up” a Bobo doll. The children were then placed in a room with Bobo dolls and given no