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Skinner's operant conditioning theory | Operant conditioning theory of skinner


Operant conditioning theory of skinner


Skinner's operant conditioning theory


The originator of operant conditioning theory was BF Skinner, a psychologist professor at Howard University. He was a professor of psychology at Howard University.

Skinner's Experiment 

Skinner designed a problem box for an experiment related to learning. He named it the Skinner Box. Skinner placed lattice floor, light, sound system, lever and food tray etc. in this box. When the Skinner box lever was pressed, a food tray accompanied by a light or sound was revealed. For the experiment, Skinner locked the hungry rats in this box.


Due to hunger, the rat was jumping here and there for some time. And as soon as it jumps, it presses the lever. And with the sound of the bell, the food tray comes in front. And the rat eats the food. After several attempts, the rat can easily obtain the food by pressing the lever.

Meaning of Operant Conditioning Theory 


Through the above applications, Skinner concluded that the repetition and modification of behavior is guided by its consequences. The individual drives the behavior. While maintaining your behavior depends on its result. Skinner has called this type of behavior operant behavior and the process of learning this type of behavior operant conditioning.


Thus, it can be understood from this experiment. That the rat does not get food by pressing the lever. So it cannot learn to press the lever. The reinforcement which was in the form of food was motivating it. And because of which He could get food. Skinner has given two types of behaviour.


1. Respondent behavior

This type of behavior is under the direct control of stimuli. And their nature is involuntary. Like – blinking of the block when the light falls on it.

2. Operant behavior

These types of behavior are not controlled by stimuli but are controlled by consequences. And their nature which is voluntary. For example, moving hands and legs, eating food.

Use of operant conditioning theory in teaching 


(1) This principle states. That good behavior has to be inculcated in the child as well. So he should emphasize the need for reinforcement.

(2) This principle calls for emphasis on the need of children.

(3) This theory explains the importance of motivation in teaching.

(4) The principle of remembering words, antonyms and idioms etc. can be used in mathematics and in language.

(5) This principle can be used by generating desired behavior from children.

Criticism of Skinner's Theory 


Although most psychologists have praised this theory. But some educationists have also criticized Skinner's theory. They have assumed that this principle has been done in a controlled conditions. And how can we apply this principle experiment done in controlled conditions to natural conditions.


And they also say that there were animals or other living beings in this type of experiment. How rules based on them can be useful in social learning situations. Similarly functional reinforcement systems fail to take into account the volition, curiosity and activity of human beings. One of the drawbacks of expository learning is that the full school curriculum program is not available.

Educational Importance of Skinner's Theory 


Following are the educational importance of Skinner's theory:

1. Through this principle, good learning opportunities can be provided to the students on the basis of reinforcement during teaching.

2. The behavior of a student or a human being is so complex. That it cannot be changed immediately in the desired or right direction.


3. It emphasizes on adopting scientific process of learning by removing superstitions among the students. 

4. By this permanent and strong learning is done.

5. This principle gives great importance to success.