Behavior Management


Dealing with problematic behavior in group settings

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … repertoire of behaviors
  • Knowing is … behaving (triggered by stimuli)
  • Learner is … an organism (individual-in-context)
  • Learning is … changes in behavior (linking stimuli to responses)
  • Teaching is … training; engineering behavior (through deliberate conditioning)




Behavior Management is closely related to Behavior Modification, in that both theories are focused behaviorism-based techniques to decrease undesired behavior. Behavior Modification is truer to principles of Behaviorisms, as it homes in on single behaviors of single individuals and makes use of prescriptive and precise programs. Behavior Management is a more classroom-focused theory, and it offers advice for dealing with many individuals at once across multiple behaviors.


There are many different types of Behavior Management, ranging from versions that endeavor to be true to principles of Behaviorisms to others where there are scarce traces to the original ideas. Those versions that remain true are typically criticized as dehumanizing and ignorant of the social nuance; those that have strayed are typically criticized as not-entirely-coherent mishmashes of varied perspectives.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Behavior Management arose in the blend of public schooling’s obsession with control and Behaviorisms’ promise of techniques to change behavior. As such, which many gurus of Behavior Management have come and gone over the past half century, it’s difficult to point to seminal thinkers.

Status as a Theory of Learning

Behavior Management is not a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Behavior Management represents an attempt to apply a theory of learning (i.e., Methodological Behaviorism). It does not seek to offer any insight into the nature or processes of human learning, focusing rather on advice for controlling groups of people.

Status as a Scientific Theory

With regard to methodology, research on Behavior Management meets most of the requirements of a scientific inquiry. However, it falls short on matters of critical attentiveness to its central constructs – a point that becomes especially evident in its many and varied interpretations.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Behavior Management” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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