Behavioral Training and Teaching Strategies
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Last website update: April 10th , 2011

PSY 3960: Behavioral Training and Teaching Strategies
Instructor: Doug Johnson, Ph.D. (about Dr. Johnson)

Course assistant: Jack Christensen
Office hours: 5pm-6pm in Wood Hall 2124

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with various behavior-based training/teaching methods. What differentiates these methods from other teaching and training approaches is an explicit recognition that teaching and training means changing behavior. Thus, the focus is on measuring behavior, tying these observations to what the trainer/teacher does, and using improvements in performance as the only evidence for judging if learning took place. Stated differently, if there’s no change in behavior, then no training or teaching took place.

Behavioral training and teaching strategies examine the best ways of presenting prompts, instructions, and examples (antecedents). They also involve how to analyze and judge observed behavior. In addition, they specify how the teacher/trainer should react to behavioral observations (consequences). The underlying key concept is how the relationship between these three variables (antecedents, behavior, consequences) impact learning over time.

This course has relevance for anyone who plans on serving in an instructional capacity. This includes those planning on working with children in an educational setting (teachers and school psychologists), working with adults in an educational setting (professors and instructors), and/or working with adults in a business setting (OBM practitioners and performance consultants). Although many of these performance technologies have typically been applied in either just school or work settings, the lessons learned from them can be applied across settings. Thus I encourage you not to view any of these as a school-based application or business-based application, but see the general instructional value.

Some of the topics covered in the course include: basic behavioral principles, Project Follow-Through, college teaching, SAFMEDS, Direct Instruction, Precision Teaching, Programmed Instruction, teaching machines, instructional design, computer-based instruction, Personalized System of Instruction (Keller Plan), and Performance-Based Instruction. Also covered will be the philosophical, political, and cultural opposition that has sometimes kept behavioral training and teaching solutions from being implemented. The course content is heavily influenced by the writings of Wesley Becker, Dale Brethower, Siegfried Engelmann, Fred Keller, Ogden Lindsley, Susan Meyer Markle, Jack Michael, J. Gilmour Sherman, B.F. Skinner, Karolyn Smalley, and Philip Tiemann.

Comments from students who have completed the course

Spring 2008

Responses anonymously collected from 85% of class

Instructor's overall teaching effectiveness: 4.6 (1-5 scale, 5=Exceptionally High)
94% of students reported a score of 4 or better.

Overall quality of course: 4.5 (1-5 scale, 5=Exceptionally High)
82% of students reported a score of 4 or better

Would you recommend course to others?: 4.5 (1-5 scale: 5=Highly Recommend)
94% of students reported a score of 4 or better

Written student comments (anonymously collected)

The exam study objectives made it reasonable to cover the large amount of material.

Taught concepts with great clarity and thoughtfulness. He had good examples of each concept that were helpful in the application of each concept.

I was able to use the material I learned regarding SAFMEDS to help my brother in a class that he had been failing. After about a week he went from failing to having a B and being the 2nd best in his class.

Provides lots of examples for everything. Grading much faster and more specific than most classes. Helpful to have so much feedback.

Dr. Johnson was able to give outstanding examples of all his material. Every example was related to the class and real life situations. He made the class enjoyable by providing these examples with a sense of humor that people responded well to. Also, providing notes and study guides was extremely useful to the understanding. When we learned about computer based instruction it was helpful to actually use a computer. All of the different designs were extremely valuable to fields I would like to go into. I actually feel that all courses should be taught in this manner, and that it should be required for psychology & education majors to take. Although difficult and demanding at times, the testing procedures encouraged good study habits.

Very well prepared for classes. He did a fabulous job pulling the most essential information from each unit. I really liked learning about methods of teaching and which worked best for optimal student performance and understanding.

You knew what you were talking about and could explain!

I really found Project Follow Through interesting. I have begun using SAFMEDS outside of class to study for other classes.

The CBI instruction was really cool. I liked how you taught/tested each unit differently depending on the instruction we were studying.

Well prepared, good examples, and illustrations, good and "easy-to-understand" pace and explanations.

When we learned how to make SAFMEDS, it helped me in making flash cards for this class and other classes.

Very knowledgeable about all the different learning techniques. Used examples well and used some real life applications that helped me understand the material better.

I really enjoyed the information being presented in this class. This has really developed my level of understanding regarding past and present teaching methods.

Good paced, very organized, good power points and uses lots of good examples.

The content of this class is extremely valuable to all students. I would recommend all students take this course due to its magnificent information on effective teaching, which helps when learning the material. So far what I have learned has helped me in other courses when it comes to studying and test taking. Dr. Johnson does a great job of making the material related and easy to understand and remember. I hope to have another class under his instruction.

This course was amazing. I wish other professors could take this course and implement some of the aspects from this course into theirs. I think all education majors should be required to take this class. I also liked how test formats changed to match the teaching strategy we were learning. I learned a lot from this class and appreciate all the effort Dr. Johnson put into teaching this course. As my career at Western ends I have realized that some professors don't give a rip if the student learns or not, but that is definitely not the case with this course. It is set up in a fashion so you have to learn. Thanks again Dr. Johnson.

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