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In our day to day lives, learning is already a usual routine. We learn new things everyday and most often than not, we are unaware that we are actually learning things. In cognitive psychology, learning is simply defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior. Meaning, learning is a continuous process. What we have learned today might be overcome by what we may learn in the future. Simply, learning never ceases to occur and happen in our minds.
The process of learning has become an important field of study in the area of psychology. Many theorists have tried and are still trying to expand the knowledge with regards to this complex behavior of man. Over the past years, learning have been extensively studied and successfully, we have several theories in terms of the explaining how learning occurs inside our brain.
How Learning Starts
Suppose a four year old toddler enters nursery or preparatory school. Obviously, this child has a relatively little amount of schemas inside him considering his age and comparing it to adults’. As soon as his teacher starts introducing new things to him, he starts learning, as well. What he has seen is retained to his memory, and persists to remain by several memory techniques applied by the teacher or even the child himself.
If the lesson is about shapes, then the teacher is supposed to show him objects which resembles a shape and relates that figure with how that shape called. Basically, that is how learning occurs. A child, through his or her senses, acquires schemas or representations, stores it in his brain and remains there through several techniques. As he grows older or as he learns further, he comes to associate it with objects he sees or perceive.
Learning Theories and Memory Techniques
Learning, as a continuously growing discipline of study has several theories which were developed over time and the most common theories are behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Behaviorism refers to the idea that learning occurs by observational technique, meaning a person learns to think about or do something by some models which he or she has acquired knowledge from. Cognitivism holds on to the idea that knowledge is a mental symbolic constructs which are being retained into mind by the process called learning. On one hand, constructivism stands by the idea that learning occurs experientially (Driscoll, 2000)- that persons come to realize by themselves things which they haven’t known before.
These theories are really important in the creation of instructional materials and methods which we are using today (Siemens, 2004). They also served as the foundations of several memory recall techniques which have been proven to be effective by many.
As what have been mentioned earlier, learning entails a practice by which it could be retained in the mind and memory. This process of memory retention is done through several techniques which have been proven effective over time. Actually, we have unknowingly used some of these techniques earlier in our life or even until today.
One of the most effective methods of learning and memory retention is through repetition. By repetition, a person becomes familiar with a certain idea, stimulus or scheme. Repetition is an effective form of practice because it conditions the mind and makes the brain adapted to that certain perception of a stimulus. Actually, repetition has been used by several founders of psychology when trying to elicit a certain response from their subjects.
In the example stated earlier, a teacher, by repetitiously allowing the kid to perceive that certain shape and resemble it with an object can help in retaining that information inside the child’s mind. That is how simple repetition works. What is more about repetition is that it can be used by people of all ages.
Another example of memory technique is through association. Association can be parallel to repetition, only that in association, a person uses a certain object or objects by which he preserves the idea or learning in it. For example, a child associates the color red to an object which is apple. By this technique, once a child sees an apple, he associates it with the color red and vice versa. This is one principle considered why visual aids are considered more effective teaching tools.
Mnemonics is another very useful tool in retaining a certain idea or concept in mind. Its effectiveness makes it widely used and incorporated in several self learning books or modules. In this method of memory recall, ideas are organized into something easier to memorize such as using rhymes, making acronyms or making sentences out of the beginning letters of a series of complicated and hard to memorize words.
Presently, studies about learning are still being conducted and one growing discipline is about the study of implicit learning which focuses on how persons learn unconsciously and indirectly (Georgetown University, n.d.). These studies about learning process are indeed important becomes they make clearer and more comprehensible the things which are unanswerable earlier in time.
Learning new information is basically a simple process but how it could become retained for a longer span of time is what is in great debate and studies today. Whatever the outcomes are, it will all be to the advantage of people because in the long run, we would be getting the benefits of the on-going studies on how we can make healthier our cognitive beings and how we can improve our memory skills.
Driscoll, M. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham Heights, MA, Allyn & Bacon.
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Georgetown University Research. (n.d.). Implicit Learning: A New Frontier in Cognitive Psychology. Web.
Siemens, George. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Web.