The concept of rewards and punishment has been around for many years, which gained popularity through Skinner’s work. Although, this is now considered a “dated” approach, the basic principle of rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour remains today. Based on this ideology, teachers should reward students who gain top scores and punish student who do not do well. Simple isn’t it? However, what about students that learn but academically can not achieve high marks. For example, students with learning difficulties? Students who do not speak English as their first language? Therefore, the behaviourist is an “outdated” approach.

Differentiation is a key term in teaching and comes down to the importance of individuality. Every student is different, they learn in different ways i.e different learning styles.

Over the years many theories has proposed different teaching philosophies. Having educational psychology allows us to use pedagogical  understanding to improve our teaching practices. Looking at my experiences, I would always say that I am more prone to teaching through a humanistic approach, in terms of seeing a student as a whole and not part of a group. However, Humanistic approach also states that in order for learning to take place, the basic needs of a person should be met i.e hunger. I would not however, allow a student to leave the classroom to eat, or to let them eat in class due to classroom rules. Here, the behaviourist approach is more useful as students are taught what is expected and what is not.

This illustrates the dynamic and complexity of adopting one specific teaching philosophy. Each group will be different to another group. For example, although each student should be aware of their responsibilities  towards their education, I tend to place this responsibility on my A level students more. This is because they are progressing to University and therefore are responsible and aware of their education i.e they have free will (Humanistic) and understand that certain behaviour is not accepted. In contrast, my level 1 students are not aware of certain rules and lack social maturity. Therefore, with this group, I adopt more behaviourist approach. For example, giving them praise when they follow certain rules to teach them what is expected and what is not. 

In terms of, cognitivism and constructivism, I adopted these strategies when questioning students. For example, if a student gets an answer wrong I would ask how they reached to that conclusion to understand why they have gone wrong. By finding the source of the problem, we can change their thought processes. Whereas, If i used a behaviourist approached and shouted at them, they wouldn’t want to get involved in activities in fear of being shouted at again.

Jordon et al (2008) also highlights that society is no longer homogeneous and therefore we need adopt a different focus to education where we recognise individualism. He suggested that we should, allow students to self-express as Brookfield (2007) emphases the importance of seeing things from the students lens.  This is fundamental in understanding students and how their thought processes work to arrive to certain conclusions. Also, this has been picked up in terms of British Values which I adopt in my classrooms via allowing students to express themselves.

Another point was to emphasis on individuals strengths and styles. This is useful during group activities. I have formed groups that has students with different, styles, strengths and weaknesses. Through this interactions, students were able to benefit learning from each other through discussions.  

Therefore, there are a lot of factors that needs to be taken into consideration. As illustrated above, i adopted certain strategies based on my group and also what I am doing myself i.e questioning. This allows students to be engaged.

PS4, PS5, PS8, PS9, PS14

Jordan, A. ,Carlile, O. & Stack, A. (2008) Approaches to Learning: A Guide for Teachers, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill

Brookfield S.D. (2007). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. (2nd edition) San Fransisco: Jossey- Bass



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