Learning Theory and Research has been a very interesting class for me. It’s different than all the other psychology classes I have taken. The text really goes into detail about subjects that were only briefly touched on in other classes such as classical conditioning, positive and negative reinforcement, operant conditioning, and shaping. The way the topics were detailed and explained in the text really made me feel like it focused more on the science of these subjects which I enjoyed a lot. I did feel in the beginning that it was going to be another review of things previously learned, but I was definitely wrong.
One of my favorite topics covered in the text was Extinction. I had never heard of the term like this before. Extinction is defined as “the non reinforcement of a previously reinforced response, the result of which is a decrease in the strength of that response.” This can be a helpful tool when it comes to time outs. Instead of yelling at the child causing more of a scene and giving the child the attention they want when they’re misbehaving, simply placing them calmly into time out can help in eliminating the behavior. The child will know that if they behave badly they will be placed in time out, which results in nothing beneficial from their viewpoint, so their behavior will improve. Although, it may take several tries for the behavior to improve, over time the bad behavior will subside.
Another topic of interest to me was the Premack Principle. It says that “a high –probability behavior can be used to reinforce a low-probability behavior.” For example if a child wants to go outside and play with his friends he has to clean his room first. The lower probability of cleaning his room is done first so that he can go outside and play with his friend which is the higher probability. The Premack Principle can be utilized in so many different ways. Here is a video that applies to dog training.
I have been able to take the topics and subjects that were learned in this class and apply them to my everyday life. The topics of Positive and Negative reinforcement as well as punishment have helped me understand better ways of using them for not only discipline, but also using them to build self esteem, independence, and responsibility when it comes to raising children. Being that I am expecting my first child in December I will definitely use what I have learned from this class when utilizing these tools.