Behavioral Technology 101: Stimulus Discrimination and Generalization
Time & Location
About The Event
How does an animal learn to distinguish one thing from another? Discrimination is the first principle of learning. We often take such “simple” concepts for granted. But those who really want to be great teachers/trainers must start where learning begins. The theme of this course is how animals discriminate and generalize stimuli and how a deeper understanding of this basic learning process can lead to more effective and efficient teaching.
Because a solid understanding of discrimination and generalization is fundamental to good training, in BehavTech 101, the students’ training time is focused on these basic processes. Students learn how to “ask the bird” questions, instead of making assumptions about “what the bird knows.” To do this well, students need to become increasingly sensitive to the bird’s subtle behavior changes so they can quickly adjust their own behavior and teach effectively. The more detailed trainers become at objectively analyzing their own behavior as well as the bird’s behavior, the greater their improvement in the application of behavior principles.
Class time alternates between formal lectures related to what students will observe in the training room and hands-on training. It is when the bird is in front of the students, impatiently (thank you, White Leghorns!) looking for clear instruction on how to get what they want, that the students put their understanding of theory directly to work (or not work!).
(FYI: It is really not hard to get a chicken to make these easy discriminations in any old haphazard way, but it is hard to learn how to apply learning principles precisely!)