Relationship of Learning to School Performance

The concepts discussed above (such as conditioning, imitation, and modeling) would seem to have little role to play in modern education. Teachers, especially in the later grades, favor so-called constructive approaches to learning, which means that they arrange the environment in such a way that children are allowed to discover relationships on their own. This approach stands in contrast to the concept of conditioning, where the child can be seen as a passive receptacle who absorbs what the teacher presents, without regard to how it fits with the child's preexisting knowledge. Educators continue to debate these two extreme approaches, and some forms of conditioning and imitation, such as drilling multiplication tables, continue to be popular in U.S. schools. Furthermore, in classes for children with special needs, it is still common for classical and operant principles to shape children's behavior. In such classrooms, teachers award points for acceptable behavior and take away points for unacceptable behavior. Children can redeem these points for perks such as extra recess. So, notwithstanding the debate between learning theorists and constructivists, learning principles are still common in classrooms although the application is sometimes not a conscious result of the teacher's planning.

See also: MEMORY

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