thorndike theory education

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thorndike theory education

Thorndike theory education
During his lifetime, Thorndike published several books on modern day educational psychology. Among his works are: Educational Psychology (1903), Animal Intelligence (1911), The Measurement of Intelligence (1926), and Human Nature and the Social Order (1940). Edward L. Thorndike died in August in 1949, and he is perhaps known best for his early work with animals and the subsequent law of effect.
Encyclopedia World Biography. (2005-2006). Edward Lee Thorndike Biography. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from

Thorndike theory education
Edward Thorndike was an influential psychologist who is often referred to as the founder of modern educational psychology. He was perhaps best-known for his famous puzzle box experiments with cats which led to the development of his law of effect.
Edward Thorndike was the son of a Methodist minister and grew up in Massachusetts. While he was a very successful student, he initially disliked his first psychology course. Like many other psychologists of his time, Thorndike’s interest in psychology grew after reading the classic book The Principles of Psychology by William James.

Intellect and character are strengthened not by any subtle and easy metamorphosis, but by the establishment of particular ideas and acts under the law of habit …. The price of a disciplined intellect and will is eternal vigilance in the formation of habits ….Habit rules us but it also never fails us. The mind does not give us something for nothing, but it never cheats. (1906, pp. 247–248)

While such men as John Dewey and Robert M. Hutchins influenced the philosophy of education, Thorndike and those whom he inspired wrote reading and arithmetic books for pupils, school dictionaries and spelling lists, tests, and pedagogical guidebooks and teachers’ manuals. Because, however, it is far more difficult to assess influence in the operations of many thousands of American classrooms than to analyze ideas in the words of educational theorists, Thorndike’s contributions are taken largely for granted.

Connectionism was meant to be a general theory of learning for animals and humans. Thorndike was especially interested in the application of his theory to education including mathematics (Thorndike, 1922), spelling and reading (Thorndike, 1921), measurement of intelligence (Thorndike et al., 1927) and adult learning (Thorndike at al., 1928).
The learning theory of Thorndike represents the original S-R framework of behavioral psychology: Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. Such associations or “habits” become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency of the S-R pairings. The paradigm for S-R theory was trial and error learning in which certain responses come to dominate others due to rewards. The hallmark of connectionism (like all behavioral theory) was that learning could be adequately explained without refering to any unobservable internal states.

Thorndike theory education
Thorndike (1905) introduced the concept of reinforcement and was the first to apply psychological principles to the area of learning. –>
His research led to many theories and laws of learning, such as operant conditioning. Skinner (1938), like Thorndike, put animals in boxes and observed them to see what they were able to learn.