This project asked learners to provide a description of a
learning scenario in which behaviorism is the primary
learning theory that drives the activity.
A Behaviorist Approach to Eliminating Filler Words among
learning scenario focuses on reducing or eliminating "filler
words" ("um," "uh," "so," "like," overuse of "and," and
similar words and utterances) in learners giving speeches
In the learning environment in which this scenario is
situated, behaviorist methods have already been applied with
varying degrees of success. The most widely used method is
to appoint a role-player each time speeches are presented
whose job is to track and publicly report the filler words
for each speaker. This method provides low-level rewards
("you had very few filler words today") and punishments
("you had quite a number of filler words today"). This
method raises awareness of behavior but does not go very far
in changing it.
Another method is for the role-player to ring a bell or
sound a buzzer every time a speaker utters a filler word.
This method does a bit more to change behavior because the
speaker is embarrassed that his or her filler words cause
disruption. This disruption is a major downside of this
approach as it impairs the flow of each speech and the event
A third method is to collect a "micro-fine," such as (in the
US) a nickel, dime, or quarter for each filler word uttered.
The proceeds are pooled and used toward a fun activity for
the group. This method can also contribute to filler-word
reduction, but the downside is that many people no longer
While the first method provides low-key rewards, the the
other two rely on punishment to eradicate the negative
behavior. I am proposing a behaviorist method that is
reward-focused rather than punishment-focused.
This is a hybrid learning environment in which speeches can
be given face to face or online. Learners, however,
supplement and track their learning online.
For this new method, a phone app would be developed that
would interface with each learner's online learning space.
Keramida (2015, para. 13) notes, "An instructional design
for eLearning based on a behavioristic approach sets the
type of reactions to be received by learners, after
interacting with the online training material." Thus, each
learner's learning space must provide content on filler word
and tips for avoiding them in speech. Using the app during a
speaking event, the filler-word role-player would track each
learner's speeches for filler words, with the total number
posting in the learner's learning space. A reward system is
created in which the learner earns a significant badge for
eliminating (or nearly) filler words, with possible interim
awards for reduction in filler-word use. Those who achieve
the top filler-word-elimination badge could optionally be
publicly recognized by all learners in the learning
This method avoids embarrassing and punishing learners and
does not depend on people carrying coins. It fits with
current practices of motivating and rewarding adult learners
with badges (Finkelstein, Knight, Manning, 2013, July 16);
Cole, Gray, & Martin, n.d; Bowen, 2013; Ady, Kinsella,
and Paynter, 2015; Rayhill, n.d.). "Digital badges," writes
Rahill (n.d.) "are compelling because they offer a
meaningful way to visually recognize learning through a
Keramida (2013, para. 6) asserts that "objectivism is the
key to remember ... to decide whether a behavioristic
approach is appropriate for your eLearning activities or
not." Rather than ask if a single correct answer exists in
this filler-word scenario, we can ask, "does a single
correct behavior exist?" Arguably, yes. Keramida notes that
objective facts don't change. It's difficult to imagine a
scenario in which the undesirability of filler words in
speeches would ever change.
Behaviorism pros and cons:
Behaviorism is observable and measurable.
Behaviorism guides learners to pre-established
behavior rather than through mental events (Keramida,
2015, para. 4)
Behaviorism is suited to certain types of learning
Behaviorism may be overly focused on punishment.
In Behaviorism, knowledge is objective; only one
answer exists (can also be a pro in some cases).
Behaviorism is not workable for "higher-order
skills, such decision-making or problem-solving through
analysis, synthesis or evaluation" (Keramida, 2015, para.
For this project, learners presented an overview and
comparison of both Cognitivism and Connectivism in a
text-based or a visual way (I chose visual) and described
a learning scenario that presents each learning theory in
practice. I used the same learning scenario for each
theory and then altered the scenario to fit the
For this project, learners again gained practice
in creating an infographic, this one about
Andragogy, including an overview of the theory, the
five assumptions, key aspects for design and an
example of a learning scenario applying those
for Learning Comparison Chart
4 Cognitive Approach
Strengths and Weaknesses (n.d.). Retrieved from