An Example Of The Operant Conditioning Theory (Operant Conditioning)

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Operant Conditioning Theory (Operant Conditioning) – Callum Arnold
The Operant conditioning theory is an example of a connectionist theory of learning, relying upon the connection between a stimulus and a response. These may also be known as a S-R theories. This theory states that we become conditioned to give a particular response to a particular stimulus; that we have learned to act in a certain way given a certain stimulus. The likelihood of the response is dependent upon the strength of the bond between the stimuli.

STIMULUS Response (Weak link – response less likely)

STIMULUS Response (Strong link – response more likely)

Positive reinforcement: -
Positive reinforcement is achieved by rewarding the correct response. Given that we are all motivated to receive rewards we experience a drive to repeat the action to gain the reward. Performing an action that leads to success will also give us an ‘internal reward’ – feelings of satisfaction, success and improved self-worth. This also motivates us to repeat the action that led to that feeling.
Negative reinforcement: -
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It does so by giving an aversive action (something the learning does not like) when they give the wrong response and then stopping the aversive action when the learner gives the correct response.
Punishment: -
Punishment seeks to break the S-R bond – the link between a stimulus and a response – because the wrong response is given to the stimulus.
Another aspect of operant conditioning is shaping. Shaping is where an action that is closer to the desired action is rewarded by positive reinforcement, but an action that is further from the desired action receives negative reinforcement. The learner gradually moves closer to the desired action.
Criticisms of operant conditioning and psycho – motor skill learning: - * The learner is not required to understand why they should do something. A lack of understanding may be
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* Learning therefore becomes a process of eliminating errors.
Adams Closed Loop Theory

Stimulus Perceptual Memory Trace initiates motor programme Mechanism

Perceptual trace controls movement Motor action (Output)

Feedback Errors
Closed loop theory has weaknesses as a theory of learning, but it is also used to explain how we adapt a movement to achieve a goal, for example running to catch a ball. You need to remember closed loop control in terms of a possible explanation for learning and as a motor control process.
Schmidt’s Schema theory:

Schmidt developed his theory as a result of his criticism of earlier theories such as the Adams Closed Loop theory. Schmidt’s criticisms of closed loop theory

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