The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the behavioral modification approach by addressing it strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, I will introduce the finder the underlying assumptions, and the concepts of the approach. Secondly, I will present some criticisms with respect to its theory and application. Finally, I will defend both the theory and its application and focus on how teachers might benefit from learning such an approach and its application.
The techniques in the behavioral approach are effective tools for altering students' maladaptive behaviors when a teacher utilizes them skillfully and appropriately. In addition to preparation and organization of class material, teachers have to face problems of classroom management such as misbehaviors of students. One of the most effective approaches they can use is the behavior modification approach. This approach uses principles in operant conditioning, that is, rewarding the on-task or good behaviors and punishing the off-task or bad behaviors. B.F. Skinner, a positivist (who believes science should be studied in an observable way), is the founder of the behavioral modification approach. He claims that the unconscious is not empirical or observable, and therefore, should not be studied (Wheldall & Merrett, 15).
According to the operant learning theory, learning results from the interaction between behavior and environment. The relationship between behavior and environment is best illustrated by an A-B-C model, in which A refers to the antecedent environment, B refers to a single occurrence of a specific behavior, and C refers to environmental consequences (Martin & Sugarman, 70). C is very important because some weaken them. The change in behavior is referred to as learning.
The underlying assumptions of the approach includes that: 1) behavior must be observable; 2) behavior is learned; 3) the interaction between environment and behavior is reciprocal, that is, behavior is a function of environment and vice versa' and 4) humans are not passive, but instead, they are active creators of their environment (Martin & Surgarman, 70).