Which elements of classical conditioning and operant conditioning are most likely to be of importance when it comes to the design of an industrial training course? Learning is central to the explanation of behaviour in the workplace, where individuals need to acquire very specific responses and skills to carry out the tasks that make up their jobs. The design of effective training courses is increasingly linked with models of the learning process, particularly where workforces are needed that can adapt quickly to technological change. Learning theory is broken down into two distinct learning patterns, classical and operant conditioning.

Firstly I’m going to explain what classical conditioning is, and then go on to talk about the key elements and the implications of classical conditioning that are important when it comes to the design of an industrial training course. Secondly I am going to explain what operant conditioning is and then go on to talk about the key elements and the implications of operant conditioning that are important when it comes to the design of an industrial training course. Classical conditioning is an association of one event with another that results in a pattern of behaviour.

Classical conditioning is a simple but important form of learning. It is a form of conditioning in which a previously neutral stimulus is repeatedly linked with the presentation of an unconditioned stimulus. So that the conditioned stimulus will, after repeated pairings, produce the unconditioned response normally associated with the conditioned stimulus. So for example in training course a fire drill may be tested to let the trainees know what to do in the event of a fire. The fire drill will be the unconditional stimulus and the trainee’s sudden reaction would be to just to stop doing everything.

This will be the unconditional response. The conditioned stimulus, in this case will be the loud squeaky tone. So every time the conditioned stimulus occurs, the loud fire drill noise will make the trainee to stop doing everything and get out of the building straightaway that in terms is the condition response. So every time that trainee hears a similar loud squeaky tone, that persons sudden reaction would be to stop doing everything. Therefore the use of unconditional and conditional stimulus and response will be of importance in the design of the industrial training course.

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Generalisation is related to classical conditioning, it occurs when we attribute to a similar stimulus the characteristics of the conditioned stimulus. This may be used in the design of the industrial training course, for example the trainee, when dealing with a new problem, may see certain similarities between it and past problem and that way the employee will be able to solve the problem. The law of effect states that responses that satisfy the needs of the organism tend to be retained whereas those that fail to satisfy these needs tend to be eliminated.

In this case if a trainee gets satisfaction from performing a particular act, then that act will tend to be repeated in the future, therefore it will be important to use this when it comes to the design of an industrial training course. Learning of stimulus response association occurs through operant conditioning. An operant is a unit of behaviour emitted by a person; such examples of operant are eating a meal and smoking a cigarette. Most human behaviour, in fact, is operant behaviour, such examples of operant behaviour is going to work, playing tennis and driving a car.

According to skinner, such behaviours is learned and strengthened by a process of operant conditioning. The key elements involved in operant conditioning are the stimulus, the response and reinforcement or reward. Operant conditioning is a form of conditioning that shapes behaviour by the application of reinforcement, punishment or extinction. Operant methods, unlike classical conditioning, can be used to produce behaviour that is not normally part of the person’s repertoire. For example the employees might be taught how to use a particular machine which they have never used before.

Therefore operant conditioning unlike classical conditioning is more likely to be of importance when it comes to the design of an industrial training course. Operant behaviours produce reinforcement for example praise, and as a consequence the behaviour that produced the reinforcement is learned and strengthened. With humans reinforcement may take a wide variety of forms for example money, smiles, praise, gifts and other things that may provide reinforcement for behaviour. According to B. F. Skinner, he believed that the environment shapes an individual behaviour by maintaining certain responses and restraining others.

He believes the most powerful shaping mechanism is reinforcement. Reinforcement operates either positively or negatively. Positive reinforcement occurs when a pleasant reinforcement follows a response. Money, status, recognition and praise can all act as positive reinforces, since they all increase the possibility of the former response being emitted again. In this circumstance praise and recognition would be an important positive reinforcement in the training course, since it is likely that the positive reinforcement will be powerful enough to stamp response into a trainees behaviour pattern.


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