Free Essay: Learning
Learning refers to a continuous process of acquiring new knowledge as long as they are alive. Learning is a vital part of human development. Several studies have been conducted on learning and they show that different ways of acquiring knowledge exist. Environments, books as well as experiences among others are at the center of learning. This paper aims at trying to comprehend learning, the involved concepts as well as to differentiate it from performance, contrasting and comparing conceptual approaches to learning study.
Concept of Learning
There are many ways of learning. As such, having a concise and clear learning definition is difficult. Generally, learning can be defined as a process via which knowledge is acquired through experiences (both present and past), education, personal teaching and observation. Illeris (2007) defines learning as a multi-sided and complex matter that includes the process that leads living organisms to a permanent change in capacity which is due to not just ageing or biological maturation (5). In simple terms and as put by Terry (2009), learning refers to knowledge acquisition and it can be said to be a permanent change of behavior or the behavior repertoire which is caused by experience (P.5). Therefore, learning can be referred to as a process that is aimed at introducing permanent change in living organisms. The change that comes from learning may be seen through behavior because the process is internal.
Depicting whether there has been any form of learning can be difficult until at a later time since actions and behaviors might not be the portrayal of learning until later when this is warranted by circumstances. For example, when an individual gets experience in providing first aid for signs of epilepsy, this may not indicate a learning behavior until when there is a case that relates to the learnt experience arises. When this happens, the person responds quickly to help the person before more help is availed. As such, learning entails demonstrating what is portrayed while testing some conditions (Terry, 2009 p. 7).
Thus, learning can be seen as a continuous or an ongoing process whose basis is human experience throughout their lives as well as the values, preferences and behavior that are portrayed by their actions. Learning brings psychological influences that include cognitive and emotional influences which include factors like the environmental influences among others which enhance skills and knowledge.
Performance and learning are related because performance can be dictated by behavior. Behavior may be categorized as excellent, good or poor. However, it is important to note that these attributes measure performance. Therefore, performance cannot assess underlying learning which it might represent (Terry, 2009 p. 10). To achieve learning, one has to obtain some information for some time. Performance refers to the actual or instant result of learning. As such, performance results from learning as shown in an individual’s behavior who acts on the basis of what he/she has learnt. While performance refers to a temporal undertaking, learning is permanent.
Learning can only be seen via behavior and it is usually intrinsic, immeasurable and unpredictable. It also requires one to go past competence zones. Learning is also a science and an art of mastering skills. Learning cannot be turned off if one does not need it. It also entails the creation of obstacles and overcoming them in order to enhance efficiency. On the other hand, performance is intrinsic. It entails doing well in instances where one is expected to or depicting positive acts and avoiding negative ones.
Various Conceptual Approaches to the Study of Learning
Experts define learning as a special process that occurs in a person’s nervous system leading to permanent alteration of behavior and attitudes. There are several conceptual approaches that have been brought up in an attempt to explain learning study. They include the Functional approach which entails the use of memory and learning to enhance survival. This is achieved via conditioning during which some abilities and learning are shared (Terry, 2009 p. 19).
Examining behavior makes understanding the behavioral approach possible and it depends on responses, stimuli and their effects (Carson, 2010). Cognitive approach shows that how a person receives and stores information depends on a specific internal process (Terry, 2009). As such, the focus of this approach is on the actual process of learning where information is taken by the brain, encoded, transformed, stored and retrieved via sensory modalities. Neuroscience approach considers biological changes which occur within the brain during the learning process (Terry, 2009 p. 21).
Similarities in the Approaches
Both neuroscience and cognitive approaches concur that learning refers to an internal process. Cognitive approach shows that learning takes place via human modalities such as olfaction audition and vision as well as other modalities which have a link with neurophysiology of human brain (Carson, 2010). As such, cognitive learning occurs subconsciously and consciously and it relies on the central nervous system. Damages or destruction of human brain impairs both behavioral and cognitive learning. Cognitive and behavioral learning affects human brain because they establish neuropath ways that lead to modification of behavior such as altering perception, planning and thinking (Carson, 2010). Cognitive and behavioral approaches occurs internally only and they do not operate beyond awareness since they require cognitive resources which other factors such as instructions, reasoning processes and rules might affect (Boaks, 2009).
Differences in the Approaches
A difference that can be noticed between cognitive and behavioral approaches is the fact that cognitive approach might be passive while response is required for behavioral approach. This implies that the focus of behaviorists is on the relationship that exists between stimuli, action and result on the basis of the present or past responses. On the other hand, cognitive learning is continuous and present. The central nervous system stores information as memories although no response or action is elicited. Simply put, an individual can learn by observing without showing knowledge till when a punishment or reward is awarded.
According to behavioral approach’s advocates, conscious effort of the learner is required for the process of learning to start. Nevertheless, decision making or reasoning is not required for cognitive approach because information that is collected via sensory modalities is stored after processing.
Brooks, R. (2009). Learning without thinking. Behavioral and brain sciences. 32(2), 202-203
Carlson, N. (2010). Physiology of behavior 10th edition. Boston MA: Pearsoon education.
Illeris, K. (2007). How we learn: Learning and non-learning in school and beyond. Routledge.
Terry, W. S. (2009). Learning and memory: Basic principles, processes, and procedures. Boston:
Would you like us to assist you write an academic paper like the one above? Get in touch with us today and we will help you. Visit our homepage here and see how else you can benefit from us. There so many academic papers you will find on this website. Peruse this blog for much more under the different categories.