Use this lesson plan to help your preservice teachers explore behaviorism and its possible uses in the classroom. Students will watch a video lesson, create a graphic organizer, and create a behavioral plan for a real-world scenario.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define behaviorism.
  • apply behavioral theories to real-world scenarios.


60-90 minutes


  • Pre-made cards with examples of unacceptable student behavior (One for each student; see ‘Behavioral Solutions Activity’ in the Instructions section of this lesson plan).


  • Begin the lesson by giving students an example of an acceptable student behavior. This can be anything; perhaps you can tell a story of a real student you have had in the past. Ask students what they might do in response to this behavior.
  • Show students the video lesson Behaviorism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples. Pause the video at 0:56 and discuss the definition of behaviorism with your students.
  • Ask students to create the table below on a sheet of paper (or electronically). They will fill in the table as they watch the remainder of the video. This will provide them with a quick guide to behaviorism that they will use in the remainder of the lesson.

Behavioral Concept Definition Example(s)
  • Resume the video. You may pause it periodically to allow students to complete their chart. Also, you can discuss each of the terms as they come up in the video to further reinforce the concepts.
  • Ask for a volunteer to read each row in their completed table (one row per term). This will allow students to fill in any gaps they may have.

Behavioral Solutions Activity

  • Now that students have a basic understanding of each of the concepts outlined in the video lesson, they will apply what they have learned to real-world scenarios.
  • Give each student a card that has an example of an unacceptable student behavior. Ask them to think about what they would do in response to this behavior. They should also identify which behavioral concept they are applying. When writing their proposed action, ask them to write a brief summary of the behavior that is on the card; this will help facilitate discussion later.
  • Ask students to rotate the cards around the room. They will then repeat the process with the new student behavior. You can rotate cards as many times as you wish.
  • When students are finished, collect the cards. Draw one at random, read it, and ask what students have proposed they would do if they encountered this behavior in a student. Allow discussion to take place. NOTE: You can discuss as many of the cards as time will allow.
  • As an exit ticket, students can complete the associated quiz.

Related Lessons

  • Behavioral, Cognitive, Developmental, Social Cognitive & Constructivist Perspectives
  • Three Later Approaches: Gestalt, Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism