Thursday, March 22, 2012

Module 2

In exploring Bill Kerr's blog page on isms (2007), I must agree with the notion that it is difficult to reject the various isms due to the amount of research and empirical evidence that support them. One one hand, you have tangible proof to document the accuracy and validity of these isms. But at the same time, there is also alot of overlap that almost makes these isms a part of one larger idea rather than them being separate belief systems or theories.

To expound on this, I will focus on some of my own professional experiences in regards to the various isms. An objectivism approach is similar to behaviorism in the sense that both focus on controlling external factors to increase desired responses. As a teacher in a P.B.I.S district, we reward students with Eagle Bucks when they exhibit positive behavior that aligns with one of our 4 major school-wide expectations. Students view these eagle bucks as a tangible reward since they can be used to purchase school spirit wear, school supplies and admission to movie and popcorn events or open gym. In alignment with the behaviorist or objectivist view, yes, external rewards do affect behavior. So in this case, the behaviorism and objectivism views are validated.

However, if you explore this reward system from a different angle, there is essentially proof that the two aforementioned isms are only addressing one piece of the human puzzle. If I shift focus to students who continue to make negative choices that do not coincide with our school-wide expectations, then I acknowledge that there are some students for which the external reward system just simply does not work. This is when it may be necessary to explore some of the other isms that deal with the internal processes taking place within a student's mind. If I decided to approach a student and find out why they were not responding to our P.B.I.S rewards system, the student may inform me that they simply do not see any value in the rewards they recieve. Yes, this is a simple reason. But, it is a piece of information that I would not have known if I kept attempting to elicit a positive student response with  a plethora of rewards that held no value with the student. So in the case, where the external approach was ineffective, I would need to rely on an introspective approach to gain insight to the student's thoughts .

So in this sense, the effectiveness of the behaviorism or objectivism approach is somewhat lessened since a person's mind and internal thoughts were able to be accessed through a simple question and response. This rejects the notion of the mind being an inaccessible black box.

Reading Bill Kerr's blog inspired me to elaborate on my school-wide P.B.I.S approach which is based on two isms (behaviorism and objectivism) and yet heavily relies on constructivisim since we may alter the rewards systems based on student thoughts and feedback.

So, in accordance with Kapp (2007) there is no ism that supercedes the next as there is a co-dependence is which the inadequacies of one ism are made up for by the strengths of another. So in other words, the things that are not addressed within the behaviorism approach are addressed in one of the other isms.


Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from


  1. It is very rewarding to see that your school as a whole is part of a reward system. This helps support positive reinforcement throughout the school, including special areas, which is very important. This is the area in which my students seem to get into the most trouble. Do you find that a school wide approach to using Eagle bucks has controlled students behavior? If not, what type of reinforement would you like to see to increase the desired behavior.

  2. Module 2 Response to Sherelle:

    Greetings Sherelle! Thanks for your feedback. Yes, since there is a push for school-wide implementation of P.B.I.S practices, there is an increased level of buy in from our students. In the initial phases of implementation, there weren't any rewards established. This resulted in a worthless Eagle Buck as they were not tied to any tangible reward. Now that Eagle Bucks can be redeemed for established events and items, the students are extrinsically motivated to earn them. As a result of this positive reinforcement, students exhibit positive behavior.

    Thanks again for your feedback.


    Tawana Stiff

  3. Tawana,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I agree 100% to your comment that where one -ism is lacking, another -ism is thriving. As educators, we must strive to incorporate a variety of strategies to motivate and engage our learners. I really like the idea your school has incorporated to motivate students to improve behavior. Where does the school find the funding to provide these incentives? When I consider suggesting programs of this nature, I always find myself answering the question: "Where will you find the money to support this idea?"

    Eager to learn more,