Understanding Learning Theory

This course is designed for those preparing to sit for the CPDT exam, as well as those just beginning to study learning theory and those wanting a deeper understanding of how animals learn. All sessions are live, so you’re able to ask questions to clarify any fuzzy areas or concepts you have a hard time with. The goal of this course is to give you a solid foundation in the fundamental concepts of how animals learn.
All times are Central time. Please see Raising Canine’s website for specific dates and times.
Sessions 1 & 2
Saturday, August 22, 2020 – 12:00pm-3:00pm
Sessions 3 & 4
Saturday, August 29, 2020 – 12:00pm-3:00pm
Session 5 & 6
Saturday, September 5, 2020 – 12:00pm-3:00pm
This webinar will not be recorded or available as an audio webinar; however, it will be available for a short time after the live session for those unable to attend the live session. It is repeated every spring and fall — twice yearly just before the CPDT-KA exam.
Session 1: Science
Nature vs. Nurture
Common Language
Learning Defined
Humane Hierarchy
In this session, we’ll talk about why science is important; what it is and what it isn’t. We’ll also discuss the reasons for, and the importance of, a common language. We’ll discuss evolution and nature vs. nurture and exactly what learning means. Finally, we’ll discuss the Humane Hierarchy as adopted by the Council for Professional Dog Trainers. All of these concepts are important to understanding the learning concepts that come next.
Session 2: ABCs
The Quadrant
Functional Assessment & Analysis
The Stages of Learning
The Client’s Role
In session 2, we’ll discuss the operant learning quadrant and the ABCs (antecedent, behavior and consequence) – the smallest unit of behavior that we, as behavior consultants, can measure. We’ll discuss why this concept is so important to really being effective at modifying behavior and how you can create an effective behavior modification plan by using a functional assessment format. We’ll also discuss the stages of learning. By understanding the different stages, we are better able to train to a higher level of fluency. Finally, we’ll discuss the client’s role in behavior modification. Clients are, by far, the biggest frustration trainers have. As consultants, we need to understand the issues that clients are facing, how we can help them, and why it often appears that they are sabotaging our efforts.
Session 3: The Quadrant
We’ll spend most of session 3 covering the infamous operant quadrant. This section will help you really understand what it is and how to use it in your work.
Session 4: Respondent Learning, Operant Learning Part I
Using & Measuring CCSkinner
Respondent (or classical) learning may be the most difficult concept to wrap your brain around. However, once you understand respondent learning, it can become one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. Respondent learning is always happening – if you are learning, you are acquiring knowledge through respondent learning. Once we understand it, we are able to harness it and use it to our advantage. Within respondent learning lies many of the unforeseen problems that often crop up when using operant learning techniques – such as overshadowing and blocking!
We basically acquire new knowledge through one of two processes – respondent learning or operant learning. Both of these processes are crucial to our business. Respondent learning is extremely powerful and useful; however, operant learning is our bread and butter. Most clients are expecting us to use some form of operant learning when they hire us. And, unlike respondent learning, operant learning is very easy to understand and use. However there are many subtleties to operant learning, and understanding these concepts is necessary to be a good trainer. We’ll devote this session to understanding the operant learning, reinforcement and chaining.
Session 5: Operant Learning Part II
Extinction holds a unique place in learning theory – some argue that it is actually punishment because it reduces behavior, but others say it does not belong within the quadrant. We’ll explore this intriguing concept a little further. Along with extinction go extinction bursts and resurgence. These concepts are absolutely crucial to effectively reducing the frequency of behavior.
We’ll also discuss primary and secondary reinforcers, which are a continuation of (and require an understanding of) both respondent and operant conditioning. Within this topic we’ll discuss higher order learning and shaping, and why these concepts are useful to trainers.
Finally we’ll discuss punishment, which is such an important and prevalent concept in animal training. Owners attempt to use punishment regularly; unfortunately, because they are not schooled in learning concepts, they are generally not punishing their pet, but abusing it. Punishment certainly has a role to play in behavior modification, but it is very important to understand exactly what it is and how to use it. We’ll also re-visit the humane hierarchy during this session, because the hierarchy can inform us as to when we should bring in punishment. Finally, we’ll look at how we can use the ABCs to determine the best approach to resolving problem behaviors.
Session 6: Everything else!
Reinforcement Schedules
Practical apps & learning how to reduce behavior through R+
Respondent counter conditioning
Operant counter conditioning
DRx schedules: DRI, DRA, DRO, DRL, DRH
Discrimination training
Using LT & training principles to solve problems
This seems like a contradictory statement – reinforcement, by definition, cannot reduce behavior. Or can it? We’ll discuss ways to use positive reinforcement to address unwanted behavior. We’ll also discuss how using respondent conditioning can be such a quick and powerful tool for changing emotional behaviors such as aggression and anxiety.
A good understanding of these techniques can go a long way to resolving behavior problems in an extremely productive way.
This is an interactive course, and you must have a computer headset with a microphone to participate.


Starts On

August 22, 2020 - 12:00 am

Ends On

September 5, 2020 - 12:00 am