Thursday, July 8, 2010

Final Post

Learning: Theory and Research has been a course that consistently found ways to keep me interested and invested in taking in as much information as possible. At the start, when going through the chapter on classical conditioning, I really didn't believe that I was going to walk away with knowledge that was new to me. How much can you really learn about classical conditioning? But I was wrong. As soon as the text delved into portions about appetitive and aversive conditioning, I was hooked. The portion of the course on phobias was very interesting to me as were the ways in which you can overcome a phobia. I had no idea that there were so many methods, some that work better than others, to rid yourself of something that you are truly fearful of.

One of the most interesting topics to me, covered in the text, was high order conditioning. High order conditioning is defined as when a stimulus is associated with a conditioned stimulus, it can become a conditioned stimulus itself. For example, my 2 year old son, Ryan was always told to stay away from the water at my mom's house. She lives right on the bay and feels it is dangerous for the kids to be near. So since he was walking, she would tell him, don't go near the water, their are crabs in it and they will pinch you. My father followed this up by showing him a crab, which scared him. Now, a year from when this began, when he sees water, he immediately associates it with the crabs that he is afraid of. This hold true when it comes to a pool, the ocean, or water at a water park. His aversion to water isn't a phobia, because he eventually will go in the water. It is more of a hesitation. Regardless, it stems from his fear of the crabs "pinching his toes."

Another topic that I truly enjoyed was on positive punishment and reinforcement as well as negative punishment and reinforcement. So much of it I can apply to the way that I discipline and teach my own children. Positive reinforcement is something that I have always tried to implement with my kids and after reading the text on the subject, I feel even stronger about using it more often. It is something that really works and anything that will help make my job as a parent any easier is something that is of great value to me. Below is a great youtube video that illustrates these terms perfectly.

When I signed up for this course, I really didn't expect that it would be so applicable to daily life. In each chapter, I found a way to relate to different terms, experiments and ideas. Just yesterday, I took my kids to the water park and noticed that when an alarm sounded, a bucket dumped water and the children that liked getting wet ran toward it and the children that didn't like being splashed ran away. It took one or two times of this happening before my kids made their decisions and knew which way to go as soon as they heard that alarm. I stopped for a minute to really take note of the fact that operant conditioning is all around us. For me, this shows how valuable this course really was and walking away from it, I can honestly say that I have learned a lot.


  1. I also enjoyed the topics of positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. I will definitely use them when it comes to raising my children! Great post!

  2. Positive and negative reinforcement was also the chapter I appreciated the most, it helps in everyday life past raising children.