Behaviourism was the dominant way of thinking about learning and education for much of the 20th century and remains a strong influence in our education systems today. It derived much support from behavioural psychologists who claimed knowledge acquisition or learning was a causal process just like any other natural phenomenon.
In behaviourism, the overall purpose of education is to shape desirable behaviour. Therefore the desired outcome of learning is a change in form or frequency of observable behaviour - what people say or do.
are viewed as blank slates and their behaviour is shaped through conditioning
and reinforcement. Reinforcement
increases the likelihood that a specific behaviour will occur more frequently in
the future by delivering or removing a stimulus immediately after a behaviour. Desired
behaviours become habits, traits or dispositions as they are reinforced and
honed by use over time.