Learning can be described as any perpetual behavioral alteration in individuals resulting from experience as well as practice. In other words, knowledge plays a critical role in ensuring lasting possible behaviors of individuals emanating from multifarious connections between persons and physical, social and cultural settings.
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In other words, learning processes changes the behaviors of individuals. In principle, learning in psychology entails lasting changes directly linked to experiences. Further, the learning processes involve changes in individual’s stimuli and responses. Therefore, the paper examines the major aspects of learning related to psychology.
Undeniably, learning process is anchored on the aspect of practice. In essence, according to several philosophers, the learning process depends on active participation of individuals the education process (Rao, 2002). In most cases, learning process has been understood to be the change in behavior and attitudes. In psychology, operant and classical conditionings as well as observational learning are the basic headings under which learning is incorporated.
Besides, behaviorism, cognitivist and self-regulated learning are some of the theories, which explain how the learning process operates (Mangal, 2007). For instance, cognitive learning model allows learners to regulate their knowledge gaining processes. According to the views of various scholars, psychology is an investigational and unbiased discipline (Coon & Mitterer, 2008). As such, interior mental progressions are not considered in learning psychology since such processes cannot be measured and experimented openly.
Classical learning entails impulse provocation response to non-natural stimuli that often yield the reaction. Through experiment with dogs, Ivan Pavlov found out the occurrence of classical conditioning (Pavlov, 2003). In other words, classical conditioning can be described as a learning process that takes place because of conjoined response resulting from Conditioned Stimulus (CS) with Unconditioned Stimulus (US). Most importantly, the CS often involves non-aligned inducement.
Specifically, the sound made by a tweaking fork is an example of the CS. On the other hand, unconditioned response is purely persuasive (Pavlov, 2003). For example, the taste of food is biologically potent. Besides, pairing unconditioned response to the unconditioned stimulus leads to unlearned reflex. Indeed, a classic experiment conducted by Pavlov shows the processes involved in classical conditioning.
In the experiment, unconditioned response such as salivation occurs when the unconditioned stimulus, meat powder, is placed in the mouth of a dog (Pavlov, 2003). In the test, Pavlov undertook a conditioned stimulus, which entailed ringing a bell before offering the meat to the dog. Actually, after repeating the pairing of the meat and the sound of the bell, salivating became the conditioned response whenever the bell was ringed.
In essence, the sound of the bell is considered a neutral stimulus because the dog fails to salivate when the bell is rang. However, during conditioning, the bell is reverberated before the meat is offered to the dog (Pavlov, 2003). When the food was presented to the dog, the puppy salivated due to unconditioned response.
After recurrent pairings between the bell and the food, the sound of the bell caused the dog to salivate even without food. In this regard, the sound produced by the bell is the habituated inducement. On the other hand, salivation because of the sound produced by the bell is the acclimatized reaction. The learning process is referred to as the classical conditioning (Pavlov, 2003).
Theorists hypothesize that during the conditioning process, the conditioned stimulus precedes the unconditioned stimulus. Besides, the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus often come closer together. In fact, the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus are only some seconds away from each other.
Additionally, in order for conditioning to occur, abundant and recurrent combinations of conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus have to be undertaken. Further, the conditioned stimulus is distinctive and prominent regarding other opposing stimuli.
Classical conditioning can occur in the form of vicarious habituation and accustomed taste aversion. The former is a classical conditioning resulting from an impulse reaction as well as emotions due to observing the reactions of another individual.
The latter occurs due to the development of aversive reactions to specific tastes resulting from stomach affronts caused by the taste in the past (Henton & Iversen, 2011). Pavlov postulates that conditioning encompasses the inclined reactions to new provocations in timeworn behaviors (Pavlov, 2003). Essentially, the conditioned stimulus acts as an alternative to the unconditioned stimulus in inducing impulsive reactions.
Occurrences in Classical Conditioning
In classical conditioning, the elimination as well as nonappearance of unconditional stimulus often leads to the disappearance and fading of a learned response. In other words, when then experimenter presents the conditioned response, the learned behavior normally vanishes.
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Stimulus Generalization and Stimulus Discrimination
Stimulus generalization can be described as the inclined reaction to a stimulus, which is only comparable to the original CS and CR. In essence, in classical conditioning, when a specific conditioned stimulus excites a habituated response and the other experimental inducement prompts the same conditioned reaction, stimulus generalization occurs (Weiten, 2012). On the other hand, stimulus discrimination takes place when a specific inducement prompts an explicit conditioned response.
Conditioned suppression is critical in assessing the strong point of learning during classical conditioning. For example, operant conditioning permits the rat to examine carefully the methods and practices entailed in pressing the knob.
However, when a rat is subjected to a conditioned stimulus including a light or noise, then subsequently an unconditioned inducement such as a trivial plug-in shockwave, the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus progress a relationship where the rat discontinues pressing the lever when the conditioned stimulus is introduced (Weiten, 2012).
In this regard, the intensity of pressing occurring during the conditioned stimulus indicates the strength of classical conditioning. For instance, slower rate of pressing designates that the rat has reservations about the conditioned response.
Recovery from Extinction
Pavlov came up with a number of processes indicating that the extinction procedure fails to exclude conditioning effects. Specifically, through spontaneous recovery, learned response rematerializes subsequently after the occurrence of extinction. In other words, conditioned stimulus often prompts a conditioned response when tested after conditioning. Besides, pairing a strong CS with a neutral stimulus causes the neutral stimulus to turn into a subsequent CS through higher-order conditioning (Rao, 2002).
Operant conditioning is a learning method that involves recompenses and reprimands for behavior. In other words, the method incorporates the learning of deliberate conduct through the effects of agreeable and spiteful penalties to reactions (Henton & Iversen, 2011). The theorists remembered for the development of operant conditioning include Skinner, Watson and Thorndike.
According to Thorndike’s law of effect, reactions that are accompanied by pleasant values are often recurrent. Conversely, responses that are followed by disagreeable consequences are unlikely to be continual. On the same note, Skinner contended that the happenings subsequent to the response form the core of the learning process.
Components of Operant Conditioning
Happenings that augment the conduct and performances followed by such occurrences are described as reinforcement. Reinforcement occurs in terms of primary support and secondary emphasis. The former entails any supporter that is naturally strengthening by meeting elementary natural prerequisite including hunger, thirst and touch. On the other hand, the latter refers to the supporting strength that subsequently develops reinforcing after pairing with primary emphasis.
For instance, praise, tokens and gold stars are examples of secondary supporters. Additionally, an increase in remuneration is a positive reinforcement of a response to great performance. On the other hand, eliminating unpleasant stimulus such as threats and torture is a negative reinforcement (Pavlov, 2003). Reinforcement occurs in different schedules including partial reinforcement effect and continuous reinforcement.
Punishment is a situation where an event following a response makes the probability of that reaction to reoccur in dismal patterns. Punishments can be both positive and negative. Positive punishment involves adding unfriendly inducement to castigate a response (Pavlov, 2003).
On the other hand, negative punishment entails the castigation of a response via the elimination of a stimulus. Besides, in order to ensure effective punishment, uniformity of the chastisement must be ensured. Further, punishment of the erroneous conduct should be paired with the reinforcement of the right behavior (Chance, 2008).
Bringing about the desired changes in behavior involves the utilization of the token economy and time-out (Weiten, 2012). In reality, when individuals receive tokens for the expected conduct and utilize such tokens in trading for the activities and items desired, the behavior is transformed. Additionally, the use of time-out places misbehaving children under special areas away from attention from others. As such, time-out shapes the children’s behaviors.
Observational learning takes place via seeing how other people behave (Chance, 2008). In other words, observational learning often takes the form of shaping and modeling as well as vicarious reinforcement. According to Bandura’s social learning theory, infants are capable of replicating facial expressions and mouth movements of adults (Chance, 2008). Additionally, the theory recognizes that there is increased probability of emulating individuals who receive rewards for behavior and people from higher social status.
Indeed, observational learning is a significant method of gaining knowledge regarding the inspiration of positive behaviors (Chance, 2008). For instance, through observing programs on the televisions talking about averting the diffusion of HIV/AIDS and decreasing pollution, good behaviors among children have been augmented across the world (Chance, 2008). This indicates how knowledge can be acquired and used appropriately. In other words, learning causes a slow change in an individual behavior
The perpetual behavioral alteration in individuals resulting from experience as well as practice forms the foundation on which learning is anchored. In other words, the learning process is instigated by response to a given stimuli. In most cases, the learning process is incremental. Besides, the learning process depends on active participation of individuals in the education process.
As mentioned, in psychology, operant and Pavlovian conditionings as well as observational learning are the basic headings under which learning is incorporated. Besides, behaviorism and self-regulated learning are some of the learning theories, which explain how the learning process operates. Moreover, interior mental progressions are not considered in learning psychology since such processes cannot be measured and experimented openly.
Chance, P. (2008). Learning and behavior. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. (2008). Introduction to psychology: gateways to mind and behavior. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Henton, W.W., & Iversen, I.H. (2011). Classical conditioning and operant conditioning. New York: Springer.
Mangal, S. K. (2007). Essentials of educational psychology. Delhi: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.
Pavlov, I. P. (2003). Conditioned reflexes. Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications.
Rao, S. N. (2002). Educational psychology. New Delhi: New Age International.
Weiten, W. (2012). Psychology: themes and variations. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.