Skinner Theory of Learning and its Educational Contribution 

Skinner Theory of Learning

B.F. Skinner was an American psychologist who contributed significantly to the field of behaviourism. He propounded the operant conditioning theory which is a method of associative learning. Skinner’s theory is based on the law of effect theory propounded by Thorndike.

Operant condition involves the use of repetition in which the behaviour that has received a positive reinforcement (reward) has a probability to be repeated whereas the behaviour which has received a negative reinforcement (punishment) is less likely to be repeated. Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning. Similar to Thorndike’s puzzle box, Skinner conducted his experiments on a Skinner Box using animals.

Educational Contribution and Educational Implications

The educational implications of Skinner’s operant conditioning theory are as follows.

Used for Shaping Children’s Behaviour

The operant conditioning theory can be used in the classroom to shape the behaviour of children through the use of rewards or reinforcement.

Eliminates Negative Behaviour

The operant conditioning theory involves the use of negative reinforcement which strengthens behavior by eliminating unpleasant behaviour.


The operant conditioning theory includes positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement which can be used to shape the behaviour of children.

Removes Unwanted Behaviour

The operant conditioning theory helps in removing the unwanted behaviour of children such as demotivation towards learning, tardiness, and the like.

Motivated Learners

The use of reinforcement in the form of rewards motivates children to keep learning and perform better.

Helps Teachers Learn About Learners

For the teaching learning process to be effective and successful, teachers need to ensure that the learners are understanding what is being taught in the classroom. This is possible with the help of operant conditioning.

Encourages Feedback

The operant conditioning theory enables teachers to receive feedback from learners so that they can acknowledge whether their teaching methods are effective or not.


These are some of the impact operant conditioning theory has in classroom learning. It can be highly effective for the teaching learning process since it involves the constant use of reinforcement.

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