Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior that is the result of experience. During the first half of the twentieth century, the school of thought known as behaviorism rose to dominate psychology and sought to explain the learning process. The three major types of learning described by behavioral psychology are classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning.
DEFINITION OF LEARNING:
Gates and others.
“Learning is the modification of behavior through experience”
Henry, P smith
“Learning is the acquisition of new behavior or strengthening or weakening of old behavior as a result of experi-ence.”
Crow and Crow
“Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitudes. It involves new ways of doing things, and it operates in an individual’s attempt to overcome obstacles or to adjust to new situations.”
“Learning is the process of progressive behavior adaptation.”
“To learn is to modify behavior and experience.”
M. L Bigge
“Learning may be considered as change in insights, behavior, perception, motivation or a combination of these.”
TYPES OF LEARNING :
Learning has been classified in many ways.
I. Informal, formal and non-formal learning Depending on the way of acquiring it learning may be informal, formal or non-formal. Informal learning is incidental. It takes place throughout life. It is not planned. Formal learning is intentional and organized. It takes place in formal educational institution.
Non-formal is also intentional & organized and It is flexible.
II. Individual or Group learning Learning is called either individual or group learning depending upon the number of individuals involved in the learning process.
III. Another classification involves the types of activity involved
(a) Motor learning: when learning involves primarily the use of muscles it is called as motor learning. e.g.: learning to walk, to operate a typewriter
(b) Discrimination learning: – Learning which involves the act of discrimination is called discrimination learning. e.g.: infant discriminates between mother and aunt, milk and water.
(c) Verbal learning: – when learning involves the use of words it is called as verbal learning.
(d) Concept learning: – when learning involves the formation of concept it is called as concept learning.
(e) Sensory learning: – when learning is concerned with perception and sense it is sensory learning.
THEORIES OF LEARNING BEHAVIORIST :
Behaviorist learning as pioneered by Watson (1913) who developed the stimulus-response model, he asserted that people learn from observing each other and as a result of this observation produces a behavioral change. The change is driven by the external environment of the learner and requires repetition and reinforcement. Thorndike further asserted that learning was impacted by the learner recognizing the positive consequences of the behavioral change and that learning would occur when the brain could systematically link together behaviors into patterns (Saettler 1990).
John Watson Behaviorism as a movement in psychology appeared in 1913 when John Broadus Watson published the classic article ‘Psychology as the behaviorist views it’.
Watson believed that all individual differences in behavior were due to different experiences of learning.
PAVLOV AND CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
Like many great scientific advances, classical conditioning was discovered accidentally. The nineteenth-century Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was looking at salivation in dogs in response to being fed, when he noticed that his dogs would begin to salivate whenever he entered the room, even when he was not bringing them food.
However, when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learn to associate with food (such as the food bowl) would trigger the same response, he realized that he had made an important scientific discovery, and he devoted the rest of his career to studying this type of learning. Ivan Pavlov and his studies of “classical conditioning” have become famous since his early work 1890-1930. Classical conditioning is “classical” in that it is the first systematic study of basic laws of learning / conditioning.
Classical conditioning involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response (i.e. a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response.
Pavlov developed some rather unfriendly technical terms to describe this process. The unconditioned stimulus (or UCS) is the object or event that originally produces the reflexive / natural response.
The response to this is called the unconditioned response (or UCR). The neutral stimulus (NS) is a new stimulus that does not produce a response.
TRANSFER OF LEARNING
The ability of the individual to apply the previous experience on the new related experience is what we call transfer of learning. Except students are able to transfer prior skills and knowledge on new ones, the continuity of learning will be difficult. This unit will explain how old learning can be transferred to a new one. You will know what the classroom teacher needs to do in order to facilitate transfer of experiences among his/her students. The essence of learning is that previously learnt fact should be linked with a present experience. This is because human being must be dynamic and that the prior experience will make them to develop the new skills and knowledge. The influence the past experience has on the succeeding experience is called transfer of learning. Cormier and Hagman, (1987) define transfer of learning as the application of skills and knowledge learned in one context being applied in another context. Oladele (1998) defines transfer of learning as the effect of prior learning on the present. Learning is meaningful when the past learning smoothen the progress of something else. For example, if a learned experienced refuses to aid the new learning, the goal of training has seized to be accomplished.
THEORIES OF TRANSFER OF LEARNING
(a) Theory of Mental Faculties: This theory was propounded by the Greek Philosophers, notable among them was Aristotle. The basic tenet of the theory is that human mind is sub-divided into different powers of faculties like memory, judgment, reasoning or thinking. It is therefore believed that each of these faculties is reinforced and developed by cast and continuous memorization of poetry/poem and similar works. This theory believes that exercises and regular practice will strengthen the mental faculties. The theory therefore dismisses the concept of transfer of learning, to it a well trained and disciplined mind is the ingredient needed for under-standing of new information.
(b) Theory of Identical Elements: The theory which was developed by the duo of Thorndike and Woodworth (American Psychologists) indicates that it is possible for an individual to transfer the prior skills and knowledge to recent ones because both experiences are identical (share things in common). This theory suggests that a successful or effective learning will happen if there are connections or interrelatedness between the old and the new experiences. For example, it is expected that a student who has learnt about anatomical parts of human being in a Biology lesson, should be able to do well when he/she is asked to name anatomical parts of a goat during Agriculture lesson. (c) Theory of Generalization: This theory was advocated by a Psychologist named Charles Judd. The assumption of the theory is that general principles aid transfer of learning better than segregated facts. This theory believes in Gestalt, an assertion which views learning from a whole or complete form rather than in isolated form. For example, the theory of generalization indicates that a learnt experience should be useful in other day-to-day related activities.