The key to human development is learning. Learning is the bridge between an unknowing, callow infant and a fully-functioning adult who fits into societal roles and norms. Everything one learns from one’s diverse life experiences is what moulds one’s persona. In the absence of the psychological process of learning, processes which are considered to be fundamental building blocks of society would cease to exist. For instance, virtues like discipline and civic sense wouldn’t be known of. Hence, learning is in many aspects of the word, a beneficiary, without which humans would be incapable of living in civilized community.
Psychology defines learning as any relatively permanent change in behaviour or behavioural potential produced by experience. In essence, it is a spectrum of changes that take place as a result of one’s experience. It involves a complex sequence of psychological events.
Types of learning refer to the various types of activities that are learned by an individual. There are seven major kinds of learning. Motor learning is said to occur when complex processes taking place in the brain as a response to experience or practice of a certain skill result in changes within the CNS, which in turn allow for the production of a new motor skill (Eg: climbing, walking, swimming, driving, etc.). Verbal learning is that which involves language and communication devices such as signs, symbols, sounds, words, etc. When one sees a pencil and attaches the term ‘pencil’, one learns that the word “pencil” refers to a particular object. This form of learning is known as Concept Learning, and requires higher order mental processes like intelligence, thinking, and reasoning. Discrimination learning involves learning to differentiate between a variety of stimuli and showing an appropriate response to the different stimuli. An example of such a type of learning would be learning to differentiate between the voices of different people. Learning of principles is a type of learning that involves a person learning different principles in mathematics or science (formulae, laws, correlations, etc.) so as to work more efficiently and find results effectively. Problem solving requires one’s cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reasoning, generalization, observation, et cetera, to overcome the challenges one faces in everyday life. Hence, it is considered to be a higher order type of learning. One’s behaviour is determined and directed by one’s attitude. One begins to develop different attitudes about the various aspects of the world from one’s childhood. Behaviour of an individual can be positive or negative depending upon the individual’s attitude. This constitutes attitude learning.
The method of learning has been explained by various schools of Psychology. This encompasses the theories of learning. The theories of learning are concepts in Psychology which explain the various techniques that organisms (animals and human beings) adopt to learn from their environments. Kearsley (1996) summarized 50 theories of learning. However, in recent times, it has been noted that several of these theories refer to specific human learning phenomenon.
One of the most eminent theories of learning, classical conditioning stems from the behaviouristic system of Psychology. Behaviourism, as a school of thought approaches Psychology as an objective science, by condemning subjective interpretations and promoting experimentation with scientific rigour. Observability and verifiability form its core. John. B. Watson, often claimed to be the founder father of Behaviourism, defined his subject as a study of behaviour and responses to stimuli which can be measured and studied objectively. Certain principles of Behaviourism remain relevant and practical to this day.
Operant conditioning is another significant theory of learning which falls under ‘Neo Behaviourism’. Neo Behaviourism as a school of thought is a form of reinstituted behaviourism which has been specifically modified in an attempt to explain behaviour on the basis of stimulus-response conditioning. But it cannot be fully explained in terms of observable stimuli and reactions. It introduces mediating variables into the behaviourist stimulus-response scheme. Some pioneers of Neo Behaviourism are B. F. Skinner, Clark Leonard Hall and Edwin Ray Guthrie.
Social learning theory is a general theory of behaviour which claims that human beings are social animals that learn from each other via observation, modelling, and imitation. The theory forms a bridge between cognitive theories and behavioural theories. One of the most influential psychologists to have contributed massively to the field social learning is Albert Bandura.
Cognitive learning theory explains the different cognitive processes and how they are governed by external and internal factors so as to create learning in individuals. Psychologists belonging to the cognitive school of thought view learning in terms of these underlying cognitive processes such as critical
thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving, etc. It consists of insight learning and cognitive learning.
Learning principles have far reaching influence and importance because, in many ways, they determine the extent to which one’s learning potential is optimized. Hence, it is imperative to know and understand the different theories of learning in depth, so as to conceive their direct impact on one’s own life. This has been one of the key motivating factors for the articles that fall under this tab. describe each of the four aforementioned major learning theories in greater detail. The applications of these learning theories (focussing on classroom application) have been dealt with. Finally, an opinion poll was conducted and analysed to determine which learning principle is considered to be the most effective.
Aastha Wadhwa (1733220)
Anjali Sharma (1733226)
Archana Arun Pai (1733229)
Debopriya Sen (1733236)
Madhuvanthi N Bhat (1733252)
Meghna Rath (1733253)
Preeti Kodancha (1733266)